Blue Planet II is arguably the most popular show on British television, racking up 17 million viewers in 2017 and beating both the X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing in the ratings war. What better medium, then, to teach the nation about the critical problem our planet faces when it comes to plastic pollution. The program showed how plastic is polluting our oceans and affecting our wildlife. It was so harrowing in fact that environment secretary Michael Gove said he was 'haunted' by it and has come up with an action plan to promote wider recycling and reduce waste.
You may be shocked to learn that less than 50% of the 480 billion plastic bottles sold in 2016 were collected for recycling. This means that in excess of 240 billion plastic bottles became plastic waste and began polluting our already fragile ecosystem. This is a global problem on an enormous scale and is causing irreversible damage to our planet.
The good news is that there are ways to combat this pollution epidemic and there are things you can do on a personal level to help. Companies like Sundried are turning this waste into treasure by recycling the plastic bottles and giving them a new lease of life. With a sportswear range made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, they are helping to clean up the global excess of plastic bottles which would otherwise take thousands or even millions of years to decompose naturally. By recycling plastic and turning it into useful products like sportswear, brands like Sundried are not only reducing plastic waste but are also reducing harmful emissions and water waste used to create new textiles.
Sundried also work with charities like Surfers Against Sewage who undertake the biggest and most impactful plastic clean ups on beaches across the UK. Their Big Spring Beach Clean helped to remove an enormous 55 tonnes of plastic waste in 2016. You can help by volunteering to help clean up your local beach, or find other charities who may do work closer to home for you. There are lots of ways we can all help this global issue and help to make our planet a better place to live for everyone.
What better way is there to spend your Sunday lunchtime encased in a world of pain for an hour or more?
To be honest, other than Yorkshire puddings and roasties, I'm sure you'll agree not much beats a Sprint Triathlon (right?)
Southend-on-Sea provided a great location for the first Sundried Triathlon. The town really welcomed the event and a whopping 2500 people came out to support the 300 athletes, many of whom were competing in their first triathlon.
The swim took place in the Thames Estuary with a refreshing midday start, due to the tide times. 1 hour before the start all we could see was mud flats for miles. I'm familiar with a non-wetsuit swim, but a non-water swim? That would be a first.
There was no need to worry. A mini tsunami came in as scheduled and the bay rapidly filled with clean salt water. We flip-flopped our way 500m along the sea front to the start, (flip-flops were then deposited back at the start for us), and the swim was simply point-to-point parallel with the beach: great for nervous swimmers who didn't have to venture far out their depth, and nice for spectators who could walk along and see the race unfold.
After failing to hold the fast feet of the lead man who set off beside me, I found another set, then decided to have a go on my own and make it hurt. The speed that is easy in a draft becomes really hard when in front, and I probably should have stayed where I was, but as this was a training race there was no need for energy conservation!
A smooth transition and we were quickly on to the fast, flat but quite technical bike course. The organisers are talking about a closed-road multi-lap affair for next year which I think would really draw the crowds in further and give it the buzz of a French Grand Prix tri: something the UK scene could really benefit from. I lost one place to another fast boy through the 20km bike leg, finishing up that bit in 4th; feeling rather power-deprived throughout. Some days you're the firework, some, the damp squib.
The run was out and back along the sea-front where people out for their Sunday stroll probably wondered why all these lycra-loving lovelies were self-flagellating themselves upon this Day of Rest, but they were giving great words of encouragement and seemed really into the spirit of the event: Southend seems to be a perfect match for a triathlon.
So, back to the run. 2.5k in a straight line does seem a long way, and to turn around and repeat the feat was another painful prospect, especially when you could see the Sundried finish banner over a mile away in the distance, not getting any closer...
Coming into a shorter triathlon as a longer distance athlete, you have visions of it 'being over quickly' and being 'no big deal' but I tell you what, Sprint is long and Sprint is hard! And I could only seem to muster limited speed anyway, but it was hurting as much as I could make it, so will hopefully prove an excellent training session as part of my preparation for the European 70.3 champs in 3 weeks’ time.
Coming to the finish, I didn't have much time to celebrate the female win and 3rd place overall as I was very aware of the clock ticking close to 60 minutes, and I always enjoy dipping under an hour in a Sprint. Sadly, I was 25 seconds too fat, but this will come in the next few weeks as I start to sharpen up for my first peak of the season. A couple of kilos makes a lot of difference to speed!
I would like to thank Sundried for their support of me as a pro triathlete this year, providing great PR opportunities as well as beautifully crafted clothing, and now adding another string to their bow: by producing a fantastic first event. Sundried really does stand for quality through and through. I look forward to seeing how the Southend Triathlon develops in years to come, and will definitely be back for that sub 1 hour in the future!
About the author: Alice Hector is a prolific elite professional triathlete, having already won the Volcano Triathlon in Lanzarote earlier this year. She is also a professional fitness model and has done lots of work with Sundried as an athlete ambassador.
Photo Courtesy of Surfers Against Sewage
The Big Spring Beach Clean is the largest and most impactful volunteer beach cleaning project in the UK. Across the UK, almost 17,000 volunteers have joined Surfers Against Sewage at 475 beaches and river banks to remove 55 tonnes of plastic pollution.
The single-use plastic drinks bottle was, once again, one of the most commonly found items (with over 17,000 being removed and recycled with Ecover). The poster child for our ‘throwaway’ society, the plastic bottle perfectly demonstrates the need to both refuse single-use plastic and to ensure that we trap the plastic that we have to use in a circular economy, preventing it ever escaping into our environment. Whilst they remain committed to tackling plastic pollution on their beaches for as long as it takes, each and every SAS beach clean volunteer longs for a day when beach clean are nothing but a fond memory and we truly have plastic free coastlines. SAS has been blown away by the response to the Big Spring Beach Clean this year and, together with their Beach Clean volunteers, they will continue to work towards a day where plastic-free coastlines have become a reality.
SAS Rep for Scarborough, Steve Crawford, said it best, "My hope for the future? Is going down to a beach clean and realising there’s nothing to do, no plastic, nothing and all there is to do is sit and look at the sea. You go there and that beach is pristine. That’s the dream, the end goal. And there are lots of ways we can do it”.
Sundried have a strong ethos of recycling plastic bottles and we do so by turning them into clothing. Read more about Sundried's recycled clothing here.
Photo Courtesy of Surfers Against Sewage
Top 10 Big Spring Beach Clean 2017 Stats
- 475 – SAS Big Spring Beach Cleans took place across all regions of the UK
- 16,944 – SAS Big Spring Beach Clean volunteers
- 55,541kg – Of marine litter removed from the UK’s coastline
- 74,000 hours – Donated by SAS Big Spring Beach Clean volunteers
- 17,000+ – Single-use plastic bottles removed and recycled with Ecover
- Weird, Old and Wonderful – A broken open safe, terrapin shell, two 7.62 rifle bullets and a cider can from the 1960’s to name just a few of the surprising items found
- Longest Litter Journey – A Cornwall Council recycling bin found washed up on The Isle of Skye!
- Government Representation – From DEFRA Environment Minister Dr Therese Coffey to Tynemouth’s Young Persons Mayor, Oscar Daniels more than 10 MPs, MSPs, Mayors and local councillors volunteered
- Dawn ‘Till Dusk Big Spring Beach Clean 6am – 6pm cleaning 5 beaches around Bude with The Plastic Movement engaging 200 people and removing 835kg!
- 91 Years YOUNG – Oldest Big Spring Beach Clean Volunteer (Freshwater West, Wales)
If you've been inspired and would like more information on how to get involved with Surfers Against Sewage, especially as they work closely within the community in Southend and Thorpe Bay, follow the below links to their social accounts:
You can also get involved by doing your own #MiniBeachClean and letting the SAS Beach Clean Team know at email@example.com and sharing @surfersagainstsewage.
Sundried are very excited to be launching our pilot collection very soon! Our new collection features men's and women's training leggings which are perfect for running, gym training, and various other types of training. We will also be launching men's and women's training t-shirts and vests, all of which are stylish and comfortable and coordinate with each other so that you can mix and match our hot new pieces.
We also have a sports bra in two colours and men's sleeveless training vest. All of the products in our new collection feature sweat-wicking technology and premium Portuguese fabrics which provide superior comfort and will perform as well as you do!
Sundried are a premium, ethical activewear brand with the ethos of keeping our carbon down with the help of the Low Carbon Innovation Fund and giving back to charity with our donations to Water For Kids. Fore more information on any of our charity work or our ethical ethos, be sure to browse the website!