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Make 2019 count - Introducing the challenge

by Gael Pawson 31 Jan 22:00 NZDT
The amount of plastic Gael collected on a small section of Witterings Beach © Gael Pawson

"It's just one cup..." but if every one of us reduces our plastic waste consumption by just one item every day it will make a huge impact. So how about we all take one step towards a more sustainable sailing life, every month this year and make 2019 a true year of change? Each month we'll be looking at a specific area where YOU can make a difference... here's the why and how.

Being a sailor gives you a real appreciation for the power of nature, of its complexities and its unpredictable nature. You soon have to accept, however great your skill, however deep your pockets, the breeze has its own mind about what it wants to do which is no respecter of age, class or nationality, and sometimes that's simply not in your favour. It is one of the reasons, I believe, why sailors are generally a pretty awesome bunch. And while we may have manmade sailing machines in which we enjoy our sport, it is the wind and the waves that make our sport possible, the very natural elements and resources that are also so threatened by human activity.

The fact that we both love and respect those elements, is perhaps why many sailors have become high profile advocates for a more responsible, more respectful and considerate approach to life. Look at Ellen MacArthur who gave up her professional sailing career to focus on changing our economic model to a more sustainable one. Look at Dee Caffari's "Turn the Tide on Plastic" Volvo Ocean Race entry, and Phil Sharp's Energy Challenge - just a couple of examples of sailors trying to make a difference. Ben Ainslie may have been criticised for embracing his environmentally-unfriendly new sponsor, but his team did a lot of work on sustainability during the last America's Cup. Meanwhile, the 11th Hour racing movement aims to drive sustainable practices on and off the water, with a number of high profile sailors working to lead by example. But it's not just about the stars of our sport, every single one of us has a role to play.

Join the effort to make 2019 count

Remember, every piece of plastic we have used in our life is still cluttering up our world. As Ellen MacArthur points out, our linear economy, our linear lifestyle, where we consume and simply discard our waste, is not sustainable (see a video of Ellen talking about the circular economy below). To change our lifestyles to a more circular, sustainable model is a huge leap, but we can make that transition.

While the changes that we can make as individuals may seem small, the knock-on effect they can have to inspire others certainly has the potential to make a huge impact and the sailing community has the ability to set a great example. It starts with every one of us. So why not join us here at YachtsandYachting.com in making 2019 the year in which we do something about reducing our negative impact on the environment, step by step.

The challenge to become sustainable sailors

Our challenge is to do something new every month in an effort to alter our behaviour, reduce plastic use and environmentally unfriendly practices and reach the end of the year with a wonderful season of sailing behind us and a real sense of achievement in permanently reducing our impact on the world.

An added bonus of many of the changes we will suggest to try and inspire you over the coming months is that they will generally save you money and many have other positive advantages as well including health benefits for ourselves as well as helping to improve the world for future generations.

Phil Sharp explains that his project is about "setting an example to the polluting maritime sector. We need to start embracing these technologies and we need to do this now." Meanwhile, "If we have added to the momentum that is encouraging people to reduce or eliminate single use plastic, then we can walk away with our heads held high," says Dee Caffari of her "Turn the Tide on Plastic" Volvo campaign. Well, here at YachtsandYachting.com we're aiming to encourage you to join us to reduce plastic and move our lives towards a more sustainable model; every little bit we do is positive progress to helping protect our wonderful playground the sea, and our world that sustains us all.

Aside from any other New Year's Resolutions you may have made this year, this is one resolution you can keep even if you just incorporate a few of our suggestions into your daily life you will do a bit to start to turn that tide.

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