After implementing the first plastic bottle free International Freediving Competition at Liverpool’s Aquatic Centre in March this year and thereby reducing the event's plastic waste to practically zero, I noticed the total lack of recycling bins for the public - while 6 vending machines are producing a constant flow of plastic trash. This urged me to take further action so I wrote to Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson and received a friendly reply with the promise to work on a solution (see post from April 2015).
So now here we are: for those who think they really need to buy bottled water or any other plastic wrapped scam product, at least there is the opoortunity to dispose of the waste in a more responsible manner.
Thank you Joe Anderson!
I am tempted to ask if Lifestyles would sell the TidyTide bottle to offer customers a sustainable and healthy alternative while promoting British tap water and supporting safe water world wide?
Take the short Water & Plastic Quiz to enter the draw:
Looks like I'll have to brave the cold and get my fin wet in the great British outdoors very soon!
Made up! :D
Over 220 participants have participated in the challenge and created some very inspiring content, highlighting the impact each individual had to fight this important issue our world faces. As you all know, William & the ORA are giving out several unique prizes to the participants who received the most likes on their submissions. Moreover, William handpicked one specific participant based on his/her commitment and creativity to the fight against seaborne plastic. Without further ado, here William's challenge recap and winner announcement:
"It has been humbling, awe-inspiring, and extremely motivating to read all the contributions and comments, and look at the many pictures of people's efforts in tackling this critical problem. Not only has it given me more ideas for how I can effect change myself, but it has encouraged me to see that there is a movement of people who are concerned, and acting on that concern. Thank you to everyone who has contributed in any way - and congratulations to all the prize-winners. It was very difficult to choose an overall winner, as there were so many worthy candidates.
In the end I chose a contribution that expressed great depth in the way that change is being effected. Major and time-consuming personal lifestyle changes that set an example for us all, a product that reduces plastic use while simultaneously raising funds for an organisation that targets water-borne plastic, instilling healthy behaviour in others via practices at events and venues, and petitioning for legislative change. Meike H. I applaud your actions and your example! Special mention must go to Sara H. for the novel ideas and great vision of her contribution. I truly hope you continue with your project, and get all the support you need, as it stands to play an important part in understanding the nature of the problem we are dealing with. I'm wishing you oceans of strength and patience in that campaign, and any others you may join it with."
It took a month of patience but I kept thinking that maybe the positive visualisation in my badly photoshopped April Fool's day post on Facebook (see image) would help somehow...?
Now I finally got a reply from the Mayor's office answering (some of) my questions and explaining steps they will take to provide recycling solutions in public premises, well, in Liverpool Leisure Centres at least. Which is a good start.
You can read our full conversation here.
I will be closely watching the developments, it will be interesting to see who will ultimately take responsibilty for making sure that plastics get at least recycled.
So far I haven't even mentioned the idea of banning plastic bottles, promoting tap water quality, and installing drinking water fountains in public places (as it used to be), maybe I need to establish some good relationships with 'people in power' first - and in reality...;)
I am happy to see that I am not the only one with these kind of thoughts, there are already two petitions set up by some concerned and clever people:
Ban the sale of plastic water bottles in Liverpool.
Liverpool drinking water fountains: We demand the restoration of public drinking water fountains in the city of Liverpool.
It would be good to see these petitions take off, so spare a minute and sign please - or do I have to set up another one? Le me know your thoughts - email me any time.
Liverpool’s Aquatic Centre sees many grand events, swimming galas and international competitions, but at the Great Northern International Freediving Competition on the weekend of 28th/29th March 2015 there was a big difference.
While records are being broken and medals being won, rubbish usually starts piling up, sometimes hundreds of disposable plastic bottles, food wrappings, cups and cutlery – up to 20 large bin bags on a single day, as reported by centre staff.
But all that was left after the Great Northern was half a bin bag of ‘general waste’, a few recyclable cardboard cups - and a small amount of organic waste.
Photo by Daan Verhoeven
Initiated by Meike Holzmann, a Liverpool based musician, teacher and water lover, who herself took 2nd place in the no fins discipline in 2011 and came overall 3rd in 2012, international freedivers united on a mission to leave no trace, or at least, as little as possible.
Meike, who set up the TidyTide campaign for clean and safe water by reducing plastic pollution and supporting WaterAid in 2014, raised concerns about the competition’s plastic footprint with the organizer, Steve Millard from Apneists UK, and they agreed that that it should be possible to run the 2-day event without commercial bottled water and plastic or foam cups.
Freedivers are known for their environmental awareness and ethical, healthy lifestyles, so a short pre-event appeal to all participants and helpers was enough to ensure that almost everybody brought their personal drinks bottles and was happily refilling from the designated drinking water taps at the Aquatics Centre.
Liverpool is supplied with high quality tap water from beautiful North Wales, and the taste of the water from the Aquatics Centre drinking taps has been described by regular users as “tasteless – the way it should be”.
For those who preferred some flavour, a freediver-friendly natural selection was provided at the TidyTide Hydration Station: fresh lemons, ginger and mint, with the lemons proving to be especially popular.
Most people carried BPA free sports bottles, but for people who wanted to go 100% non-toxic while supporting WaterAid, the stainless steel and bamboo TidyTide bottle was on special sale – getting the fundraising level of the TidyTide campaign to the 23% mark.
The TidyTide Hydration Station also featured a collection of private mugs and spoons, a small washbasin and a rinsing bucket, a scrounger, (a very small amount of) ecological washing liquid, and recyclable card board cups.
Due to the relatively small number of ceramic mugs people had to resort to cardboard cups at times, but only about 30 were used and collected for recycling, while the ceramic cups were simply washed and dried immediately after use.
With these few simple steps the Great Northern Freediving Competition left almost no waste, a huge success so easily achieved.
All in all, this initiative showed that a little effort can go a long way and Meike has high hopes for more event organizers to join forces and follow the Great Northern example - not just raising awareness but putting simple, ethical and healthy solutions into practice.
Meike passionately shares the Mayor’s vision for a cleaner, greener and healthier Liverpool and hopes it will eventually follow San Francisco’s example by putting a ban on the distribution of disposable plastic bottles and investing in drinking water fountains in all public areas.
That surely would help making Liverpool one of the greenest cities in Europe.