During the last three months, the NGO I work with launched a new project in southern Brazil: raising awareness on the use of plastic and its effects in the ocean ecosystems. Having been an environmental activist for some time now, I couldn’t be happier to be part of this project, which in the end had a strong impact on tourists and locals. The first part of the project consisted in showing part of our oceanography museum on a stand at the beach (every week we worked at a different local beach), which allowed young scholars and kids to get involved in our work, learning about marine species and having the chance to experiment with our scientific methodology. They learned about the formation of winds, sand, and waves, the reason for high and low tights, the most prominent marine species and the effects of human actions on the environment. The second part of the project consisted of walking around the beach, distribute free bags to recollect trash, and talk to locals and tourists on the most urgent theme of any time: THE IMPACT OF PLASTIC IN OUR OCEANS. In order to call attention, we usually wore eye-catching clothes (mostly made of the waste we commonly find at the beach, including, but not limited to, cigarette butts, single-use plastics, and fishnets); we also carried slogans with current statistics and strong messages. Most of the people we talked to were very grateful for our work and happy to get information on such an urgent topic, however previously oblivious to them.
Many times I woke up at 7 am and felt very dizzy and unsure about continuing the project. Sometimes it was very hot, sometimes very far. However, I remember a small voice within me telling “you can make a difference”, every single day. It was that small voice that pushed me to the next level, that gave me the strength to talk to a bunch of tourists in Portuguese, to have a small (yet remarkably important) impact on individuals and strengthened my interest on environmental topics.
I will be forever grateful for this experience, which shaped me and made me a more conscious and aware human being.