SAS 250 Club Members + interview

We are super proud to announce our Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) 250 Club membership!

Although we have been members for some time now, we were waiting to announce it with an interview with SAS all about the incredible work they have been doing since their formation in 1990 in response to awful sewage problems here in the UK.  Since then they have done some incredible work and really ramped up their scope and audience in recent years to help solve plastic pollution and be part of the the fight for the planet's survival. 

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the last twenty-one years you’ll know who Surfers Against Sewage are. Originally set up in 1990 by a community of surfers who were fed up of chronic sewage pollution infecting the ocean, they are still protecting our oceans today. Although SAS started out as a single-issue campaign group (which as a result of their campaigning forced massive investment and changes in sewage infrastructure in the UK) they’ve now grown to take on a myriad of emerging issues and representing voices of people who demand huge changes to protect our planet. Surfers Against Sewage are now calling on people like you and me to help clean up our environment in response to the pandemic. The Million Mile Clean aims to inspire, empower and support 100,000 volunteers walking ten miles whilst cleaning the places they love. We caught up with Surfers Against Sewage to find out more about the clean and more.

Thanks for joining us SAS. So, how bad is the sewage problem in the UK?

SAS: Despite the progress we have made, with much to be celebrated, there is still vital work to do to protect and restore rivers and the ocean from the impact of sewage and agricultural and urban runoff.  Last year, transparency in water quality information has become even more important with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and potential transmission risk for viruses in sewage. However, data from our Safer Seas Service (SSS) shows water companies are still discharging sewage at alarming rates, polluting the environment, and risking our health. Between 1st October 2019 and 30th September 2020, a total of 2,941 Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) discharge notifications were issued through the SSS, which is based on information we access from water companies.

1,195 of these were issued during the official Bathing Season in England and Wales (May 15th – September 30th) and a further 1,746 were issued out of season by the water companies willing to issue year-round data, in response to the need for more transparency and accountability.

More info found in our water quality report: SAS Water Quality Report

Who are the main culprits on our shores when it comes to plastic pollution?

SAS: Our 2020 Return To Offender campaign revealed that just 12 big brands are responsible for all plastic pollution. A massive 56% of all plastic pollution spotted by the public during the 2020 campaign came from the dirty dozen. Coca cola came out on top, contributing a massive 15% of plastic pollution. You can read more here: SAS Return to Offender Express Issue

You can also find a more detailed break down of the plastic pollution culprits in our 2019 Brand Audit: Analysis of Branded Items found on UK Beaches

Why doesn't the government step in to change laws around plastics?

SAS: The pace of change can seem very frustrating but it is happening – slowly but surely. Here are a couple of big changes:

- The plastic bag charge will be extended to all retailers and increased to 10p: Plastic bag charge in England

- The Government has officially banned plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds in England https://www.sas.org.uk/campaign-win

- The Government has committed to implemented a Deposit Return Scheme thanks to the public’s campaign support. WE just need to make sure they choose an ‘ALL IN’ system. https://www.sas.org.uk/news/breaking-news-deposit-return-scheme-delayed-until-2024/  

What can individuals do to change the current situation?

SAS: Replace one item from your household with a re-usable and sustainable option. That first step to a sustainable future has so much impact. By owning a re-usable bottle, you’re less likely to purchase a single-use plastic one when you’re out. Around 2.5bn coffee cups are thrown away every year in the UK alone – that’s seven million a day. Less than 1% of these can be recycled, meaning most spend up to 50 years in landfill, after lasting just minutes in your hand. These very simple changes really do add up and can make such a difference.  

What do you need to bring to a million mile beach clean?

SAS: Just yourselves! All we ask for is your time and energy. The team at SAS provide all equipment to the beach clean leader so they’ll be plenty to go around. If you wanted to, feel free to bring your own gloves and rubble bags and always wear appropriate footwear! Find out more on how to get involved here: https://beachcleans.org.uk/  

How can people get involved with surfers against sewage?

SAS: There are so many ways to get involved with Surfers Against Sewage.

- Become a rep: https://www.sas.org.uk/become-a-rep/

- Become a member: https://www.sas.org.uk/donate/ Join our business membership scheme: https://www.sas.org.uk/take-action/corporate-support/sas-250-club/

- Lead a Plastic Free Community: https://plasticfree.org.uk/get-involved/lead-a-community/

- Join our Plastic Free Schools: https://plasticfreeschools.org.uk/

- Or simple donate to our cause: https://www.sas.org.uk/donate/