April 23rd, 2019
Never underestimate the impact one person can have on many lives. All it takes is someone to “Be the Change”. After an encounter in 2016 with Charlie Enright, Volvo Ocean Skipper for Team Alvamedica, I knew that I had to do something. His vivid pictures of mountains of ocean plastic and dead birds with plastic pieces in their stomach that they mistook for fish eggs were shocking. Actually, shocking was an understatement.
Not much time had passed when I learned about “Sailors for the Sea” and how those on the water can do something. I decided to start local. In 2017, I asked Lake Townsend Yacht Club Commodore Nancy Collins if I could run with the green theme and little by little start educating the members about sustainability and our impact on the environment. I called it “Going Green” at LTYC. Early in the year, we started to remind sailors to bring their reusable water bottles and coffee cups. If someone forgot to bring their reusable bottle, empty one liter containers of soda water were refilled with water from our five gallon jug and handed out.
Having developed a state-wide “Women On the Water” program to introduce females to the sport of sailing, I decided this was another avenue to provide education to mothers and young females. After finding some like-minded females, we developed a Green Team, registered with “Sailors for the Sea” as a “Clean Regatta” and achieved Gold status in 2017 and 2018. Word spread and more people asked how they could help. I started mentoring folks how to set up a “Clean Regatta” along with the aspects involved so they could “Pay It Forward” with their knowledge.
Next, I took my show on the road and started educating yacht clubs and sailors during a ten minute multimedia presentation which is forever evolving. As a result, Sarasota Sailing Squadron has embraced this theme with signs at the bar that plastic straws are not available, giving reusable items as regatta awards and flying their Clean Regattas flag from their flagpole. After educating Fort Walton Yacht Club members at the 2018 US Multihull Championship, they ask for reusable metal straws every time I’m back at the club. One of the changes they’ve made is that all bartenders ask if a member wants a straw instead of giving one every time they serve a beverage. Baby steps!
LTYC Green team member, Nancy Collins continues to walk the walk and utilized her creativity to help her daughter build an ocean plastic monster for a puppet show. In addition, she carries her reusable straws, coffee cup and water bottle in the car. After a few times, it becomes a habit.
There are simple things that you and your family can do. Stop buying cases of bottled water. Instead, use your refillable water bottle. By doing this a family of five would stop about 850 water bottles from having to be produced. Another action item is to pack your lunch in containers and ditch the Ziploc baggie. Think twice before purchasing a single use plastic item. What habits can you change to reduce your plastic usage?
Charlie Enright was the reason I decided to “Be the Change”. Will you join me?
By Stephanie Taylor
US Weta Ambassador
Some members of the Green Team
Green Team Junior Sailors, Aubrey Bews and Jack Clodfelter
Nancy Collins and the Ocean Plastic Monster