Donning snorkelling gear, grabbing your surfboard and your surf buddies, jumping in local boats, descending on beaches, hauling sacs full of plastic that are almost the same size as you, and greeting resort managers and staff with a “We are here on a clean-up mission and we will be back!” are some of the diverse skills that ALF Mentawai students have been developing and deploying in our SENSE programmes.
Taking a holistic approach to the plastic problem that provides students with a wide array of skills and knowledge, ALF local staff tackle plastic pollution from underwater, on the water, on land, with the community, with local businesses and visiting surfers. And most importantly as a team. Developing an emotive relationship with the ocean through surfing and snorkelling is balanced by knowledge-based classes. The former have the added facet of increasing self-belief, meaning students are confident to stand up for what they believe in. Thus the plastic pollution is attacked from the heart and the head and by an ever-growing number of these. A powerful combination.
In April students collected 165 kilograms of plastic. This was taken to Manalu, along with plastic from the community drop-off points we have set up, who sorts and sends plastic to be recycled in Padang.