Stab Magazine | What Can The Royal Wedding And Surfing Possibly Have In Common?

What Can The Royal Wedding And Surfing Possibly Have In Common?

An unexpected wedding donation is making monetary waves for the ‘Surfers Against Sewage’ organisation in the UK

news // Jun 21, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

I doubt anyone who reads Stab watched, nor cared about the Royal Wedding – unless your monarchastic better half was around. But it turns out the world’s most exuberant engagement made a noticeable splash for a bunch of eco-minded surfers.

Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) was founded back in 1990 when a bunch of Cornwall surfers were literally sick of untreated shit floating around the lineup – no I’m not talking about longboarders. 

“We were specifically campaigning to stop the release of untreated sewage into the ocean. We were directly experiencing the impacts of sewage release as it would come around the headland to where we were surfing.” Ben Newell, a UNSW psychology Professor told Stab.

Now, since the sewage systems of the 90’s are sorted, SAS are less concerned with lurking turds and are more focused on slightly less filthy, but far greater reaching issues facing our oceans and humanity.

You guessed it, single use plastics: the link to your ice-coffee, the bag for your groceries and even those water bottles building up in the backseat of car right now.  

Surprisingly though, the biggest boost to SAS’s plastic-less agenda right now isn’t a bunch of bearded, left-leaning city slickers, nor is it through hemp-twiddling tokers, instead, the boost is courtesy of the almost always conservative Royal Family.  

You see, Surfers Against Sewage were one of the seven organisations which received wedding gift donations from the Royal couple after the wedding.  

“We’re thrilled that the couple care about protecting beaches and tackling plastic pollution, and have chosen to use their special day to help promote and support our work to safeguard the UK coastline. We’d like to say a huge thank you to Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle, and we wish them all the best for the future.”

“Suddenly, people realise we’re a really serious marine conservation charity. The global interest is phenomenal. We have never reached that many people in all of our history, ever.” Hugo Tagholm, SAS’s chief executive told The Guardian about the impact of the wedding gift.  

Since the Royal Wedding’s public donation, SAS has received four-times more than its normal donations for this period and also a hefty spike in website traffic.  

Surfers Against Sewage keeps its overheads low by relying on a mere 12 full-time staff* and is mostly dependent upon those who donate and volunteer their time for clean-ups – of which SAS organised 1200 of last year alone.

And don’t go slipping on your nihilist cap claiming ‘that these little efforts don’t make a difference’, or ‘it’s all mere virtue signalling’, because their efforts have already made a positive impact.    

SAS introduced the ‘Plastic Free Parliament’ initiative, the ‘Protect Our Waves’ parliamentary group and have worked alongside 350 individual communities in their attempts to achieve a ‘plastic free’ status.

Oh, and don’t worry, they still look at toxicity levels and the role that surfers play in antibiotic resistance too just to keep their name relevant – it just requires a quick voluntary ‘rectal swab’.

The Royals have always backed surfing – even before they went bald.

Surfers Against Sewage aren’t deluded on the impacts of their initiatives though; while beach clean-ups might temporarily rid the sand of plastic and raise public awareness, they’re far from a viable long term solution to plastic pollution.  

Currently, 8 million pieces of microscopic plastics weasel their way into the ocean every day, and no amount of men on the ground are ever going to successfully combat that.  

Therefore, plastic usage, and more importantly plastic production, needs to be stemmed at the source.

“We can’t pick our way out of this one.” Tagholm told The Guardian “[We need] brave legislation. Plastic is the one pollutant that has truly galvanised every part of society.”

They’re not quite saving the world, but they’re doing a smidge more than the rest of the slacktivist contingent. 

*Some might argue that getting paid to work for a charity is hypocritical, but permitting it’s not for profit, what’s the harm in paying a few staff to work towards goals which, in the long run, result in positive outcomes in the world. It’s more noble than climbing the corporate ladder, or slinging shit in the Disqus forum, don’t ya think?  


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