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Activist Spotlight: Clint Mack With the Pacific Rim Chapter

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

I believe it was the fall/winter of 2018 when I made my first appearance at a volunteer meetup in Tofino….I was aware of the Surfrider Foundation but wasn't at all familiar with the actions, programs, or people involved in the local Chapter, so I thought I’d check it out!  Even if it wasn’t my thing, at least there were snacks and smiling faces.

After learning what the local chapter was trying to do to address some of the issues the communities on the coast of Vancouver Island were (are) facing, I was blown away with the level of passion and knowledge of the people I had just met had.  It seemed like a great way to contribute some positive energy back into the coastline that I enjoy daily, while at the same time learning how we can improve our ongoing interaction with our habitat.

Before I knew it, I was dragging giant bags of marine debris across remote beaches to be collected and recycled, and never stopped snacking.

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

It may be one of the easiest issues to spot, but like so many beautiful coastal communities around the planet, we are a seasonal vacation destination.  Although this is not an issue in itself, (and tourism is a vital part of the sustainability of so many local businesses, employees and individuals who reside here), we are a remote destination who host thousands of visitors from thousands of different places, who may not be as aware or conscious of some of the issues we face, particularly in our waste stream.  Local groups, governments and businesses have come together to create improved methods to deal with our waste (which can eventually end up in our oceans) in a number of different ways over the years - everything from changing legislation to address single-use plastic take-away containers to tackling encapsulated foam docks that can leak styrofoam.  Visitors can sometimes come from places where these aren't even remotely considered local issues, and can unknowingly add to the problems (ie; bringing cases of bottled water from out-of-town big box stores when there are clean, fresh water refill stations throughout the communities).  There is a challenge where so many residents and businesses who are conscious about their waste, host visitors on vacation uneducated about sustainability, has an impact on the levels of avoidable local waste.  I feel anyone who wishes to visit and enjoy the spectacular area we live here on the Pacific Rim should.  Hopefully one day we can bridge the gap on how conscious we are about our waste - everywhere - and perhaps particularly in places we visit for leisure.

Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?

Aside from the occasional beach cleans, event support and some general “lifting heavy gross stuff onto trucks and boats”, the ‘project’ I have spent the most amount of time and energy on is leading the “Hold On To Your Butt” campaign.  It has been a bit of a passion project of mine, as cigarette butt waste is recyclable, and to remove it as a form of pollution and reform it into a resource (such as building materials) is a simple change in human behavior.  When smokers finish their cigarette, they are faced with an option of what to do with their butt - and these options usually end up with them not being in their hands anymore.  Why not ensure it goes into a receptacle where it can be sent to be recycled instead of one where it goes to landfill?  Just a small change in human behavior.

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

Going back to the “Hold On To Your Butt” program, we here on the wet west coast of Vancouver Island have passed the threshold of collecting One Million butts through the hard work of our local chapter’s staff and volunteers.  I wasn’t involved with the Chapter when the program was rolled out, but I have now spent over 2 years working with and watching incredible humans interact with local businesses and entities to try and eliminate cigarette butt waste from our communities through creative thinking and hard work, with noticeable results. 

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

To people who aren't familiar with the organization, I mainly stress how amazing the people who are involved and make up the organization are.  I still have so much to learn, but it’s incredible to see so many people from vastly different walks of life come together and share ideas, learn from each other, and work together to accomplish like-minded, common goals - on a mostly volunteer basis as well (our staff are next-level rock stars by the way).

Q: Why are you a Surfrider coastal defender? 

As a frequent surfer, beach walker, and ocean enthusiast, I feel that a small amount of effort and time to try and preserve and protect the place that has provided me with so much joy and education from the many beaches I've visited on Earth is more than a fair trade.  Giving back always feels good, and I’ve never regretted a day at the beach - even in the snow, sideways rain or howling onshore wind.  Healthy oceans promote healthy humanity, with all living (and non living) things in between, so I think it’s a responsibility to protect the things that are important to us, and doing so through Surfrider is a fun, educational and connected experience.

Q: Anything else? 

Just a huge thanks and appreciation to all the incredibly cool people I’ve come across throughout my Surfrider journey, from those on the beaches dragging stuff to a boat to the strangers I’ve shared a computer screen with on a zoom conference.  We are doing cool things, let's keep it up!