Activist Spotlight
September 25 2018

Activist Spotlight: Christie Irps and David Nuss with the Texas Coastal Bend Chapter!

Christie Irps and David Nuss are tireless defenders of the Texas coastline. Through their work in protecting beach access and fighting single-use plastic pollution, they are showing their community how Surfrider chapters are not only raising awareness of critical issues, but actually protecting the coastline through direct action.  

Q: Why and when did you get involved with the Surfrider Foundation?

Christie: I became involved with the Surfrider Foundation after David Nuss invited me to their monthly meeting in August, 2017. While I was listening to the discussion of local topic issues, I knew that my love of the environment was aligned with theirs and that I wanted to be a part of the Surfrider Foundation's Texas Coastal Bend Chapter and their mission to protect the beaches and our beautiful Gulf of Mexico.

Q: What are some local issues that are affecting your ocean, waves and beaches?

Christie and David: Plastic pollution is a big problem on our beaches and in the water. Runoff from various sources sometimes pollutes our water here in Corpus Christi, which can create some really nasty algae blooms that contribute to red tides.

The Texas Open Beaches Act, which upholds the public's right to access the beach, is regularly threatened by developers. The coastline is also subject to significant erosion on portions of our beach that limits our ability to drive and park in certain narrow sections. We feel very fortunate that we have coastal access for miles and miles and work tirelessly to ensure it remains that way for everyone who visits Padre Island.

Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?

Christie and David: In September 2017 at the Adopt-A-Beach Clean Up, we were astonished that there was such a ridiculous amount of single-use plastic, as well as microplastics, littering the beach and were wondering what we could do to help address this problem. When Cliff Schlabach and Neil McQueen announced that the Surfrider Foundation had created an “Ocean Friendly Restaurants” program, we realized that would be our way!

We created our own Ocean Friendly Restaurants team with Holly Thomas on board and began reaching out to local restaurants to alleviate the single-use waste problem one restaurant at a time. Our chapter members also encourage establishments to visit the website when they are dining out and encourage them to sign up and join the movement to stop plastic pollution. This is a full team effort in a city where sustainable practices that reduce single-use plastics are fairly new.

Q: What has been the highlight of your Surfrider experience (i.e., campaign, program, victory)?

Christie and David: The highlight of the Ocean Friendly Restaurants program has really been to see that people do care about our environment and through the Surfrider Foundation, are becoming more aware of the impacts of plastic pollution and how they can make improvements to protect the ocean.

We are very proud of the restaurants who go the extra mile to change their business practices and protect our local coastline.

Q: What is the most important thing you tell others about Surfrider?

Christie and David: We tell others that without the tenacity, persistence and direct action of the Surfrider Foundation, we may not have access to our beautiful beaches or favorite surf breaks. 

Q: Why are you a Surfrider coastal defender (or why is being a Surfrider coastal defender important to you)?

Christie and David: We are Surfrider coastal defenders because we LOVE the beach, oceans and all that dwell within and want them to flourish forever.

Q: Anything else?

Christie and David: Texas has a ways to go before recycling and reducing single-use plastic waste becomes the norm statewide, but through the Surfrider Foundation Texas Chapters, people are becoming more aware and engaged on the issue and this is how we will create change.