I woke up this morning in a warm bed, with a roof over my head and my partner by my side (well actually Kitten Katie’s cat was in between us). We went downstairs and had breakfast and Katie cycled off to be a Doctor for the day (the cycling helps keep the stress levels down) whilst I walked round a wooded valley for 40 minutes. For most of us this, or something close is normality… but we’re the lucky ones. For many people on the planet this is not the case, over a billion people live on less than a dollar a day, millions are hungry, homeless and in some cases, don’t even have a country they can call home, and these luxuries that are all too easy to take for granted are, for them, probably something that will only ever be a distant dream. Therefore I believe that there is a fundamental deal: We get this relatively easy and comfortable life on this amazing planet and therefore we give something back, we try to be a bit M.A.D., we try to Make A Difference.
Of course there is very little absolute original thought and this kind of thinking is succinctly put by the Author and activist Alice Walker: “Activism is the rent I pay for living on the planet.” (Note to self and to others: Don’t beat yourself up that someone else has put it better. She’s an author and works in words!).
Now I am also lucky in that I was at the right place at the right time and helped set up an amazing organisation called Surfers Against Sewage. For ten years I worked tirelessly (once to the point of burn out! – lessons learnt there!) and helped build an organisation that ended up making a massive difference to the coastal waters of the UK and beyond. With a sense of “righteous outrage” we took the sewage-contaminated beaches to the corridors of power and we won. Well to be fair we helped win. The Government committed the country to spend £5.5 billion on the coastal clean up and today there are no continuous discharges of crude untreated sewage around the UK coastline. And the team I worked with in the 1990s left a legacy not only in quality of the water but also an organisation that currently tops the charts of ocean plastic campaigning groups and has even been recognised as one of the seven charities that will receive donations at the Royal Wedding between Prince Harry and Megan Markel.
But it never started out like that. It started because we were fed up with the state of the water and we wanted to change it, we wanted to Make A Difference.
I strongly believe that we can all do this, every day. This can be in our personal lives and our work lives and we can do it on a small or big scale. Every bit of positive change does make a difference, to the planet, to a person or both. Some of this is just down to simple little decisions. Our use of single plastics is a classic example. A friend, well he’s become one, Martin Dorey started a campaign called 2 Minute Beach Clean. A simple idea that we all have 2 minutes spare and should just litter pick for 2 minutes. It’s an idea that is catching on fast (in 2 minute bites) and has now spread to inland and across the world and been morphed and renamed and bastardised by many but the spirit and ethos remain: Do a little bit and I’m going to do a little bit for Martin. On Thursday the 3rd of May he launches his cracking little book No More Plastic, What you can do make a difference (there it is again) and he has a hash tag 2 Minute Solutions. As an example, we can all on a personal level, buy a reusable coffee cup and for those of us running a business we can buy the team a reusable coffee cup each. It’s that simple and all of those changes set a change mode in the team, in society, in the environment. And its infectious, tackling and overcoming problems is part of the DNA of the human species (note I do not say ManKind – I’ll explain that in my talk at The SHE Show South), that’s how we evolved.
I recently spent two days talking to over a thousand pupils/students at an international school in Geneva. I was blown away by their interest and commitment in the future. I hope and trust that we can help them create that future.
Sometimes you’ve got to be a bit edgy, a bit passionate and a bit of a pain in the backside.
The world is our oyster, but sometimes you have to put in A Grain of Sand to create that pearl!
I look forward to bringing a few grains of that sand to The SHE Show South on the 22nd of May 2018.
Written by Chris Hines MBE Hon.D.Sc.
Chris was a Co-founder and then Director of Surfers Against Sewage from 1990 till 2000. Regarded as “some of the Government’s most sophisticated environmental critics” by the BBC and “Britain’s coolest pressure group.” By the Independent, the SAS helped deliver massive environmental improvements. Chris was then Sustainability Director at the Eden Project for 5 years. This included conceiving and delivering “Waste Neutral”, an early version of the circular economy and helping embed the triple bottom line of sustainable business practice throughout the organisation. He’s been campaigning against ocean plastics since 1990! He’s given evidence to the UK parliament, the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, the European Commission, briefed the President of the European Parliament, been a special advisor to the Minister for the Environment and appeared on a wide range of media from BBC World Service and Panorama to CNN.
In 2008 he was awarded an MBE for “services to the environment” in the Queen’s Birthday Honours and an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Plymouth. Surfers Path Inaugural Green Wave Award winner (a global award).
Has given presentations to a wide range of groups and organisations from BMW Guggenheim Future Lab to the Dutch Tax Office, Bombay Sapphire, Lonely Planet, the National Grid and the Global Surf Cities Conference.
He now aims to deliver positive change by working with clients with a shared vision, including sitting on the BBC’s Sustainability Advisory Group.
Chris works on strategic planning, communications, leadership and embedding sustainability principles as part of a profitable business, and strongly believes that business can be a force for good in a challenging world.
Oh and he still gets plenty of surfing in!
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*Please note, the views expressed by the original article author are theirs alone and do not necessarily represent those of Washingtondowling Associates Ltd or The SHE Show and therefore we take no responsibility for the content or accuracy of this post.