White beaches, deep blue water, perfect waves – and a lot of plastic trash in between.

Sad, but true: What sounds like a bad dream, is already reality at surfspots all over the world. Especially as surfers and nature lovers, we feel this negative trend and the desire, to work against it. Even with small daily decisions like not using a plastic straw or by spending just a little amount of time (five minute beach clean up!), we can take responsibility for what we love.

But what is the next step?

When it comes to great ideas regarding the huge plastic problem, there are some inspiring people out there – such as Marie and Maxi.

Marie, who is not just one of our ambassadors, but also the founder of Surfers Collective and inspiring in any way, works together with her (like she calls it) ‘sister-from-another-mister’ Maxi on their blog Salt in my hair. Not just as research for their blog, but also as part of their lifestyle as surfers, the two of them started a great mission this summer: For three weeks Marie and Maxi went on a surftrip and tried their best to completely avoid single-use plastic and travel plastic free.

We talked to them and they told us about all the great things, small victories and inspiring moments and people on their journey, but also about the difficulties and challenges on this trip.

Hey Marie and Maxi, you did something pretty impressive this summer: a #missionplasticfree roadtrip from Portugal via Spain to France! What inspired you to go on this mission?

Marie: Maxi and I had two different occasions when we thought “F*#&, we need to change something.

Maxi: I was collecting plastic straws in Lombok. We made a little challenge: How many straws can you collect within 2 minutes. The result? More than 40 straws!! I called Marie and told her, we have to change something in our life. Marie was up for a mission, she watched the movie PLASTIC OCEAN before and was so shocked to see what’s going on and that we knew so little. We both wanted to learn more about the topic, as we live most of the year next to the ocean and so we decided to go on a three week surf roadtrip, without using plastic.

How much did you have to prepare in order to travel plastic free?

‘We didn’t prepare too much, as we really wanted to see how the plastic-free life affects us. But of course we did our research and came across some great products and brands that helped us with our plastic free trip, such as Bamboo toothbrushes, reusable water bottles, bee wrap to keep our veggies and fruits fresh, organic surf wax, …’

What were the biggest challenges that you faced during your roadtrip?

‘Well, the first thing we realized was a week before we started our trip. We called our trip ZERO PLASTIC ROADTRIP – but we realized we still need our car, our cameras and phones to document the journey, charging cables, our surfboards,… we soon started to feel a bit frustrated, as the list was growing: sunglasses, hair brush, sun cream, … But instead of getting frustrated we decided to rename our project to #missionplasticfree with the aim to not generate plastic waste by single-use-plastic items anymore.

But apart from our first big dilemma we didn’t face too many challenges and the biggest problems were more the daily struggles. Finding shelter from the rain, as it was raining non-stop and we were in a tiny car. Trying to find surfable waves – in three weeks we only had two memorable surfing sessions. Spending 24/7 together – especially as I (Marie) am super chaotic and am loosing the car key probably 10 times a day.

But some of our main struggles relating to plastic were the following:

1. Finding water – in Spain the water tasted like chlorine and we didn’t bring any filters. We often stared at our glass bottles filled with water and we simply couldn’t drink it. So we were a bit dehydrated while we were cruising through Spain. In France the tab water tasted much better, so that helped a lot.

2. Bags – we ALWAYS forgot our shopping bags when we went to the supermarket. So we ended up carrying piles of food with our hands. But we got better and in the end we really did a great job.

3. Straws & plastic spoons – Normally we cooked a lot on our own, but once in a while we had a drink or snack. And EVERY time we ordered a drink, we got it with a straw. Or when we bought some icecream, we ordered in a cone, but they still added the plastic spoon. Sometimes we simply didn’t expect it. But the trip really taught us to be more aware about those things.’

What tricks and habits will you resume in your everyday life?

‘This trip has been super eye-opening. I think the most important thing that we learnt is that we got more aware about how much plastic we consume and how we can change that, just with little tricks. Just a couple of days ago, my uncle was preparing an iced coffee for the whole family and was asking where the straws are. I told him to use a spoon instead and everyone was happy.

Here are some tricks:

Re-use – We re-used a lot of things. We bought, for example, a lot of food in glasses, such as beans, olives, joghurt and then we re-used them to store our things, to drink wine from it and we used it instead of food containers. Or we used old wrapping paper to build our own bins.

Always take your own bags to the supermarket – We got these really thin cotton bags, where we put all our fruits and veggies inside. And every time we went to the counter, they were surprised that there is an alternative to plastic bags

Slow down – we realized we are just lazy and convenient. If we go to the gym, we just grab a plastic bottle, even though it would be so easy to just refill a glass bottle

Alternatives – There are so many alternatives, e.g.Bamboo toothbrushes (e.g. Georganics or Hydrophil), toothpaste in glass containers (e.g. Georganics),  Bee Wax Wrapping Paper (e.g. Crimson goods), upcycled and sustainable clothing and footwear (e.g. Olas Ocean Tribe, Picture Organic Clothing or Indosole), Wooden things, such as surfboards (e.g. Kun_tiqi surfboards), reusable bottles (e.g. the Tropical Gypsy Bottle).

Do you have tips for everyone else to break the plastic habit?

1. Just try it! I think the most eye-opening situation for us was when we were collecting the plastic trash at the beach. After cleaning the beach every day for one week, we had three trash bags full of plastic stuff. After three weeks, we only collected a couple of straws and spoons. It’s such a good feeling – the changes were really drastic! And you’ll think twice about it.

2. Have fun! Make a mission out of it. Maxi and I really started to enjoy our grocery shopping. So much things are wrapped in plastic and we were celebrating small victories, such as finding cheese with a paper package or finding sparkling water in glass bottles (not easily found in Spain and Portugal). And in the end of the day we enjoyed to sip from our wine that we drunk out of re-used glass containers, while watching the sunset.

3. Sharing is caring! We realized that it’s super important to talk to other people. We met so many inspiring people along our journey, we had two presentations and we learnt for a lifetime. The most important thing is to be open. You do not need to be an expert to make a change!

Thanks Marie and Maxi for the interview and all the inspiring tips!

“And one last little note. When we were doing a beach clean up (which were part of our daily routine) a five-year old girl joined us and after 5 minutes she said “This is so boring. But I do it for the protection of nature. And if everyone takes a little bit, we have a clean beach very soon ”

Did you know?

- Because we love nature just as we love surfing so we do not use plastic packagings for our Zealous products: Every surf bikini and shirt you order comes in a biodegradable and environment-friendly packaging

- We regularly do beach clean ups at our home spot Berawa Beach/Bali (and some spontaneous beach clean ups, everywhere we travel)

- We are a 1% For The Planet member and donate 1% of our annual sales to support nonprofits focused on environmental issues