Q: Why and when did you get involved with the Surfrider Foundation?
Marlo: I grew up on a Barrier Island in North Carolina called the Outer Banks, so the ocean is truly in my blood and a part of me. In 1994, post-college, I joined the Outer Banks Chapter because I was witnessing irresponsible development on the little island I called home. My neighborhood growing up was surrounded by wetlands and the maritime forest, but in the 1990’s - development was booming and no one seemed to care about what would happen if we filled in our marshes and removed all of our trees. So because I wanted to help make change at the local level, I found a group of people that cared about our unique coastal environment and the next thing I knew - I joined the OBX chapter. I then moved away for a number of years, (inland - which was painful) but I knew that one day I would return to my coastal southern roots - so in 2016 I relocated to Charleston and became involved with the Charleston Chapter, helping to fight plastic pollution and offshore development.
Olivia: I got involved with the Charleston Chapter three years ago because I wanted to be part of a network that makes an environmental difference locally, nationally and globally. I have been swimming since the age of two and couldn’t imagine a life without clean and healthy waters to enjoy. Joining the Charleston Surfrider Chapter has given me the opportunity to protect what I love, meet amazing people and has given me a voice that community leaders respect. The work this chapter does spreads deeper than just picking up trash. It strengthens your connection to the natural world while growing and learning valuable life skills.
Q: What are some local issues that are affecting your ocean, waves and beaches?
Marlo: Plastic plastic pollution is an ongoing problem - especially single use plastics such as plastic bags, bottles, cups and straws, and we will always be involved with protecting our coast against offshore oil drilling and seismic testing.
Olivia: I second what Marlo says on this one. Locally, we have seen the negative effects of single use plastics on our wildlife and water quality. Our local data follows the same trend as global data with single-use plastics being the top five most common debris items found.
Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?
Marlo: Since becoming involved with the Charleston Chapter I have worked on a variety of programs and projects. Ocean Friendly Restaurants, Ocean Friendly Gardens, Plastic Pollution, and opposing offshore oil development.
Olivia: I have worked on all of the same programs and projects as Marlo.
Q: What has been the highlight of your Surfrider experience (i.e., campaign, program, victory)?
Marlo: Hands down the local plastics ordinances that have passed in 18 South Carolina towns and governments. We will continue to fight this battle and hopefully there will be a statewide ban on plastic bags.
Olivia: I have enjoyed most about learning the ins and outs of environmental policy and getting the opportunity to testify about the effects of single use plastics at our state house as well as in D.C. with Surfrider’s Hill Day.
Q: What is the most important thing you tell others about Surfrider?
Marlo: First - you do not have to surf to become a Surfrider volunteer or donor and second, getting involved with Surfrider is like being a part of a family. We support each other and we all share a common bond and passion - and that is caring about the ocean and the marine life that calls it home.
Olivia: The work Surfrider and all of the volunteers do truly make a difference. If you want to be part of this global change, get involved with a chapter near you.
Q: Why are you a Surfrider coastal defender (or why is being a Surfrider coastal defender important to you)?
Marlo: My answer to this is probably a bit different than most. I love animals and because of this, I want to protect the marine and coastal wildlife that live in our oceans and along our coast. I believe that they deserve to have someone be their voice, and I want to be that for them.
Olivia: My life would be incomplete without a clean ocean. I want to do everything in my tool box to help protect our beaches and waves. Being a Surfrider coastal defender gives me the resources to give back to the one thing that brings me pure happiness.
Q: Anything else?
Marlo: We should all do our part to protect what we love, and if you happen to love the ocean, then reach out to your local chapter and get involved. We need your help so remember to #protectwhereyoulive and #protectwhatyoulove
Olivia: NOW is the time to take action. Don’t wait for somebody else to protect what we all love. Get involved with any program that educates and protects our only home.