NBP has gone the extra mile to keep plastic off our beaches by erecting filling stations for lifeguards and beachgoers who no longer need to cart along those single-use plastic water bottles.
Here’s a seven-question sampling of No Beach Plastic from the man behind the plan for a plastics-free future – a guy who happens to work in the beverage industry.
COAST IS CLEAR: So, what inspired you to form No Beach Plastics in 2014?
WILL ANDERSON: A couple of things. I’m a big surfer and beach enthusiast and I took notice of the amount of plastic waste all over the beaches I visited. It was taking a toll on me and the beaches – and I knew I had to do something.
CIC: What positive changes have you and your organization been able to accomplish over the past four years?
WA: We have provided water fill stations in Newport Beach. These multiple drinking water fill stations provide access to free drinking water which encourages and enables people who go to the beach to stay hydrated without having to purchase or bring single-use plastic water bottles.
We also provide the junior lifeguards – 1,200 a year at last count – with reusable water bottles and we gave them a fill station so they don’t need to bring single-use plastic bottles to the beach. We educate them on the effect single-use plastic has on the environment.
CIC: How can the average beachgoer help the cause and make a difference?
WA: I’m a realist. Everyone consumes single-use plastic. So we encourage people to be conscious of their plastic consumption and reduce where they can. There are a lot of times when you can use reusable water bottles and drinking straws and shopping bags – and if enough people do so we can cut the usage of single-use plastic in half.
As an aside, I was recently on a surf trip to Indonesia. I was on a boat with no cellphone service. It was the middle of nowhere and these beautiful islands were covered in plastic trash – items that had been consumed hundreds of miles away, had ended up in the ocean and had been carried hundreds of miles to these islands.
CIC: When it comes to plastics pollution, what popular items do you think are the worst offenders and what are our worst habits?
WA: Water bottles, straws, grocery bags and single-use coffee cup lids.
You can’t blame the manufacturers. A demand has been created and they’re just filling a need by providing such items. Consumer decisions can have the biggest impact. If we stop buying water bottles or using straws, restaurant and store owners will notice and buy or provide less. That, in turn, will trickle down to these manufacturers who will make less. It starts with the individuals. Collectively, we hold all the power! If we as a group make the decision to purchase less single-use plastic items across the board the result will be production of less. So, yes, it starts with the consumer.
CIC: What changes excite you and give you hope for a brighter tomorrow?
WA: There are a lot of individuals and groups – like COAST IS CLEAR and No Beach Plastic – reaching out to audiences. The key is education. We were never taught properly 25 years ago. Now we have plastics on the earth that will still be here 500 years from now. People need to understand the problem and the impact of what they do. We need to be conscious of our actions. We have the power and the ability to say no to single-use plastics and to use more sustainable options like reusable water bottles. It starts with education and there are a lot of good groups now educating the consumer.
CIC: What is the one thing people think of when they think of No Beach Plastic?
WA: Our reusable water bottle. We created a good product for people – a unique bottle to raise awareness. . It’s a mission and a cause. We seek to be a positive impact – one that helps make our name, No Beach Plastic, a reality.
CIC: What do you consider a perfect day at the beach and what are some of your favorite beaches?
WA: You rise early … watch the sunrise ... get to the beach … check the waves with friends … go for a surf… and then go get breakfast or coffee. You then come back to the beach and just spend time with family or friends … jump in and out of the water multiple times … do some bodysurfing or surfing – whatever the conditions allow.
My favorite beaches are Sumatra, Byron Bay in Australia and Nusa Lenbongan in Indonesia. I travel a lot and I work to be able to travel to remote places, where I spend time on remote beaches, find good waves and meet new people with similar interests.
Actually, it was one of my surf trips to Australia that I came across a water fill station – and that inspired me to create the framework for what I wanted to do with No Beach Plastic.