Small Steps to a Greater Future by Shannon Serrano
“All of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean…and when we go back to the sea…we are going back from where we came.” – John Kennedy.
I wonder if John Kennedy thought we would systematically destroy where we came from, our home. If I looked at the content of the ocean today I would not lovingly refer to it as a clean home, or be proud to show it off to my friends and family. I go out into the water because I am a water lover and I enjoy spending time in it. However, I do not love the thought of becoming sick from being in the water. I do not enjoy the thought of a dying environment. It is deceiving to untrained eyes, as our beaches are beautiful. But when you look a little closer you can see the bits of Styrofoam mixed in the sand and rocks on shore. Maybe you noticed a plastic bottle floating on the surface when you paddled out at your home break or felt the plastic bag brush your leg as you went for a swim on a flat day. Better yet, maybe you bore witness to the oil that spilled from a boat washed up on the rocks or came across a dying bird on the beach with a belly full of plastic bits. These are devastating sights that allow me to never take for granted the time I spend in the water.
I am asked a myriad of questions on a near daily basis when I meet people and talk about my job. What will future generations face in the quality of their water? Will they look forward to getting sick regularly when they get in the water or maybe just once in awhile? What can I do to clean my home? What about the rest of the world?
It never seems cliché that my answer always starts something like, “every person doing just a little bit sets a trend for a greater change, bigger than themselves. “ I truly believe that the small act of picking up trash creates awareness in those around you on the beach or at the park, who are not picking up trash.
But there are lots of other ways to make a difference besides picking up trash. Volunteer and reach out to youth by leading a beach walk, a surf trip, or a beach cleanup. There is no better way to create a sense of ownership and responsibility in another generation than allowing them to learn to love the ocean. Or bring your own mug, take out dish, bag, silverware, etc. By creating less trash there will be less in our water. Get involved in local and state initiatives seeking to make a change to help protect and preserve the ocean. Travel consciously, promote awareness and continue to support and join groups like the Surfrider Foundation, who have a global reach in working to protect the world’s oceans. Remember to always, “Be the change you want to see in the world,” Gandhi.