Let’s Talk Ocean

Do you make sustainable life choices? This week, in honour of World Ocean Day, we're highlighting some amazing women who are passionate about our oceans, rivers and lakes, and intent on preserving them for future generations

By Alison Root

As our world faces increasingly urgent environment challenges, the importance of making sustainable choices in our lives cannot be overstated and that’s why this week, in honour of World Ocean Day and beyond, we want our story drop to raise awareness about the importance of the ocean and its conservation, and how best we can adopt environmentally friendly choices to help preserve our oceans, lakes and rivers for generations to come.

Surfers Beth Leighfield and Emma Fraser-Bell cannot imagine life without their salty playground. Photography by Megan Hemsworth

It’s worth reflecting on the question: How many of us actually make sustainable life choices? Many individuals understand the urgent need to address sustainability concerns but find it difficult to implement changes in their lives due to various reasons such as convenience, affordability, or a lack of knowledge about alternatives. To be honest, I have learnt a lot from this week’s stories, which have raised my awareness of the additional steps that myself and others can take to contribute towards a more sustainable future.

Summer is here, so thoughts turn to heading to the beach to enjoy the sun and sea, but do you realise the negative impact your swimwear can have on the ocean? Traditional swimwear often contains synthetic materials like nylon and polyester, which are derived from non-renewable resources and have a high environmental cost, so instead, opt for swimwear made from sustainable fabrics such as recycled polyester or nylon, regenerated nylon (Econyl), or organic cotton. Also, forget fleeting fashion trends, choose timeless swimwear styles that can be worn for multiple seasons. By embracing a “buy less, choose well” mentality, you not only reduce waste, but you’ll also save money in the long run!

Gilly McArthur is a fearless open water swimmer. Photography by Scott Salt

Our Glorious shoot with Sweaty Betty highlights this leading activewear company as an advocate for planet-friendly and long-lasting collections, and features two Cornish water-women who are passionate about the ocean and how best they can preserve it because they cannot imagine life without their salty playground.

The amazing open water swimmer Gilly McArthur reinforces the same message in our interview: “Making small changes can make a huge difference – like buying Yulex instead of Neoprene wetsuits, supporting brands who actually make decent kit and have a solid and authentic environmental strategy so you only buy once and buy well.”


Kendra Nelson: "Plastic pollution isn’t the only type of pollution, but chemical pollutants are a rampant threat as well."


One area where sustainable choices are particularly crucial is in reducing plastic waste. While numerous campaigns and initiatives have highlighted the detrimental effects of single-use plastics, their usage remains prevalent. It is estimated that only a small percentage of plastic waste is recycled, with the majority ending up in landfills or finding its way into our oceans. By reducing our dependence on single-use plastics and opting for reusable alternatives, we can significantly reduce plastic waste and its impact on aquatic ecosystems. To make a positive difference, this can be as easy as carrying a reusable water bottle, bringing your own shopping bags, and saying no to plastic straws to make a positive difference.

Alenka Artnik is a record-breaking diver

We all love going on holiday to explore and find the best photo opportunities but remind yourself to respect the local ecosystems and wildlife. As Gilly adds, “People need to be aware of the impact they have and take steps to preserve these environments, such as not swimming in rivers with fish spawning grounds or checking and cleaning gear to prevent the spread of invasive species. It all helps our wildlife.” We should also remember to use reef-safe sunscreen that protects the skin without harming marine life.

On the subject of coral reefs, highly-acclaimed underwater photographer Zena Holloway says, “Today scientists report that all coral reefs will be virtually gone in 30 years, caused by CO2 and global warming. The coral reefs are the rainforests of the ocean and they support 25% of all marine life – so if you take away the reefs, what happens? It seems we’re thundering towards an ominous tipping point. This isn’t just about saving a few corals on top of diving reefs any longer; this is about saving whole eco-systems, and possibly us with it.”  The visibility of pollution through Zena’s camera lens led her to act and she is now also famed for her pioneering techniques of revolutionising the concept of growing fashion, sculpture, and wearables from grass roots, which are truly amazing.

It’s fair to say that significant efforts have been made in recent years to raise awareness about environment issues. Even the new release of the film The Little Mermaid intertwines the themes of ocean conservation, plastic pollution, and climate change to engage with a younger audience and plant the seed for them to start acting now. However, as we all know, the translation of that awareness is where the challenge lies.

This week we also meet Kendra Nelson, who dedicates her time to advocating for conservation on social media and in-person, and she is a testament to the power of individual action and the importance of protecting our oceans for future generations.

The fate of our oceans, lakes and rivers rests in our hands, but by making sustainable choices in our daily lives means that collectively we can make an impact, so the next time you head out, give a second thought to whether or not you have made the right choices!

Underwater photographer Zena Holloway creates sculptures and sustainable fashion from grass roots
Beth Leighfield and Emma Fraser-Bell relax in Sweaty Betty's new planet-friendly swimwear. Photography by Megan Hemsworth

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