Anna Dawson is no stranger to Philippine coastlines, having lived and worked in the country since 2008. However, her next challenge will be one of the biggest yet. From September to December 2016, the New Zealander is cycling 2,000km along the coasts of Visayas and Luzon, advocating for reduction in ocean plastics, cleaning up beaches, and talking to school and university groups. She is undertaking the mission on a Bambike, handmade from Bamboo in the Philippines.
The project kicked off in Dumaguete, with students from Silliman University, Negros Oriental State University, local high schools, and Marine Conservation Philippines, taking part in a beach clean-up activity. Over 20 sacks of plastic waste were removed from Silliman beach by the enthusiastic team of beachgoers and divers.
The inspiration for this quest came when Anna and her husband sailed from their hometown of Auckland, New Zealand, to the Philippines. Along the way, they stopped in many beautiful remote islands. Sadly, these were often littered with plastic despite being largely uninhabited.
“Plastic pollution is a huge problem for the global community. The Philippines, due to its population and length of coastline, has been listed as the third biggest contributor to ocean plastic,” says Dawson. Further inspiration for this quest came in 2015 when Anna became a mom. “I really want to make sure my son swims in a clean ocean. I can’t bear to think that the ocean may one day be un-swimmable like some of the rivers we know today.”
Scientists predict that, by 2050, there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish. Plastic, made from oil, never properly break down, and institutes like the 5gyres are finding a lot of micro-plastic in oceans around the world. This gets into the food chain, killing marine and bird life.
Anna is very keen to connect with any volunteers passionate about the environment who might like to join her for beach clean up events along the way. Anna’s route map is displayed below. She is supported by Farmhouse Hotel and Café in Nueva Ecija, which reduces their carbon footprint by sourcing food locally, as well as New Zealand Brands Ethique, Go Bamboo, and The Green Collective. Please support her by linking to her campaign’s Facebook page Plastic Free Philippines.
Abigail Aguilar is the Detox Campaigner at Greenpeace Philippines. She’s been sober from soda drinks for three years.