Despite the roster of exciting happenings by the beach, the coast was clear (literally!) during the Free the Sea Movement event, and all of the attendees went home happy and with a deeper awareness on how to take care of the planet.
The Free the Sea Movement or FTSM is an annual coastal cleanup and surf clinic organized by Reef Philippines, a surf-lifestyle brand. However, the alluring tropical getaway isn’t what defines FTSM; it’s their objective to create an eco-friendly event where people can enjoy themselves and be inspired to be environmentally-conscious at the same time.
Last year, the FTSM 2 was held at Baler, Aurora, while its third installment last October 19-21 was held at San Juan, La Union where the shindig was bigger than ever.
Just to be perfectly clear, I already think a lot about how I can avoid polluting the world with my actions. However, it does get tedious at times because it’s much more convenient to just go about your day without thinking about the consequences of said actions.
Thanks to FTSM 3, I learned three things that opened my eyes about being environmentally friendly.
3 Things I Learned by Joining a Coastal Cleanup in La Union
The Philippines is the 3rd highest plastic pollutant country in the world.
At one of the talks during the FTSM 3, one thing left a real impact on me: the statistical report that the Philippines is the third highest plastic pollutant country in the world after China and Indonesia. Knowing this shameful truth made me realize that this problem is bigger than I imagined. Sometimes, all it takes to want to change is a harsh truth and I was ready to learn about how I could make things better.
The beach cleanup on the beloved shore of San Juan also opened the eyes of everyone to be more mindful about their use and disposal of plastic. We collected and segregated six tonnes of garbage – an amount not to be proud of! It was an unpleasant sight.
We need to compromise convenience for cleanliness.
The convenience of plastic seems to be getting the best of us. If we really want to make a change and make our country and our world, for that matter, a cleaner place; we need to exert more effort.
Nothing good comes easy. It may be simple to say “Just bring a tumbler and metal straw for your drinks” or “Bring a Tupperware and utensils for your food”, but actually doing it is a whole different thing. Yes, it can be dragging to bring those things with you all the time, but you have to. There are other people doing it; there are even NGOs lobbying for plastic-less commercial establishments and converting plastic to eco-bricks. If those people are doing their best to support the eradication of plastic, so should everyone else.
We should all encourage one another.
Creating this movement isn’t easy. As such, it is nice to know that WWF is launching a campaign called #AyokoNgPlastik to encourage everyone to dismiss the use of plastic altogether. With an event like FTSM 3, things definitely became more motivating for me. It helps to see a group of people doing the same thing. That way, you’ll see concrete progress, amping you up to continue the good deed.
If you don’t have a community yet, you can start by asking your friends to do the same. If you’re in it together, it’ll be a more fun routine to do.
Reef Philippines hopes to bring the next FTSM to the next level next year. Their head, Marnelli Gaerlan, says, “Free the Sea Movement gets bigger every year! We’ll definitely have more bands and activities and we’ll try to invite more NGOs to do talks about the environment. The coastal cleanup and surfing clinics will always be the core of FTSM, so that’s sure to stay.”
If we want to maintain the beauty of our local destinations, a little effort goes a long way. Join the #AyokoNgPlastik movement, attend next year’s FTSM, and you’ll surely learn a lot. You’ll see you can still have a moment for the books while making a positive impact on the world.