Almost all seabirds have plastic in their stomachs; fish and turtles get entangled in it and die en masse. Nano plastics are even found in the wombs of pregnant women. The problem of plastic soup exists on such a large-scale that it seems hard to imagine doing anything about it as an individual that goes further than recycling one’s own plastics.
But trying to reduce plastic soup on a larger scale is exactly what biologist and artist a.k.a. Plastic Soup Surfer Merijn Tinga is set on doing. Merijn’s journey in the fight against plastic started with a simple idea: if he could bring attention to the problem, then people would start to care.
In 2014, Merijn built a surfboard using washed-up plastics and surfed it along the Dutch coast, earning him the nickname Plastic Soup Surfer. But he figured that awareness alone is not enough for change. Since then, he has started focusing his campaigns on policy makers and companies. With his organization, he advocates for better regulations, such as on deposits and recycling, and puts pressure on companies to take responsibility for the litter their products produce.
Merijn’s campaigns and expeditions have influenced political resolutions and product bans. During this lecture, he shares his approach and hopes to inspire you to make a difference yourself, as small changes can indeed lead to big shifts.