Surf spirit – Rising Above Plastics

Burleigh Heads accommodationFor Adam Feichtmann, Pastor at the Christ Church in Currumbin and keen surfer, saving our beautiful Gold Coast from plastics is a no-brainer.  And Burleigh is set to be the test precinct for the Rise Above Plastics campaign, selected for its environmentally friendly, close-knit and community-minded population.

“I was born and raised in southern California near Huntington Beach, which is known as surf city USA,” says Adam.  “I grew up constantly surrounded by the surf, my dad surfed, I surfed and eventually worked as a lifeguard in Hawaii for a year.  As long as I can remember I’ve been by the beach.”

Adam came to Australia with his wife in 2008 and is employed as a pastor at the Christ Church.  He has been an active and enthusiastic member of the Surfrider Foundation for years.

“The Surfrider Foundation is an international organisation which exists for the protection and enjoyment of oceans, ocean ways and beaches and we do this by caring for the environment with a combination of conservation, activism, research, and education.  So, in a sense, if anything fits under the umbrella of basically protecting or enjoying our ocean beaches and waves then it can fit in with Surfrider.

“We have a whole bunch of international campaigns and things that Surfrider is trying to push, such as water testing, beach protection, dune vegetation or the Rise Above Plastics campaign.  All are very important to us,” adds Adam.

“I grew up hearing about the foundation.  I think it started in the 80s, so it’s been around, at least in the States, for ages and has over 50,000 members.  It’s all volunteers but now it’s international.  I’ve been involved since 2006.”

The Rise Above Plastics campaign is a coming together of numerous environmental organizations from around the world including the Surfrider Foundation.  For the Gold Coast, and Burleigh Heads in particular, the local Surfrider Foundation is taking the stand against plastics and the detrimental effect they have on our environment.

The Surfrider Foundation also organises beach cleanups and dune care, among other things, to help care for our local environment.

 Reduce, reuse and recycle…

“For traditional recycling campaigns there’s always been the ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ aspect but for Rise Above Plastics we decided to throw in the R word ‘refuse’,” says Adam.

Burleigh Heads accommodation“A lot of people think, I won’t use the plastic bags in the supermarket, which is great as they are probably the biggest use of plastics in our consumer society, but then the person might buy five bottles of ‘spring’ water in plastic bottles, a coffee in a cup with a plastic lid, get cutlery in a restaurant that’s plastic or go into a takeaway and get food in plastic containers.

“So in this sense we’re basically saying let’s create an ideology or philosophy that says – I want to reduce plastics universally in my life and how can I do that? Hence the ‘Refuse’.”

The Rise Above Plastics campaign aims to get the ball rolling in terms of people thinking about how they can reduce plastics in their lives.  Plastics have a negative effect on the ocean by polluting beaches and damaging or killing marine life.  It is this message the Surfrider Foundation wants to strongly promote, as well as the fact that plastics last for years and years.

“Flip open your spring water bottle and you’ll see a symbol which means the bottle was only designed to be used once and thrown away,” says Adam. “It’s things like this we want people to recognise, and then that plastics last pretty much forever.  So, even if you say I use a plastic container, for example, again and again, you will still chuck it away eventually and then it’s going to sit around for a very long time.


Spinner Dolphin by Magnus Kjaergaard

The Surfrider Foundation on the Gold Coast has definitely been busy in its campaign, and you are welcome to join in!

Early September there will be fun Monster sightings around Burleigh Heads and at the Swell Sculpture Festival plus screenings of the Life Changing documentaries.

Oct 4 –  Screening of ‘Bag It: Is life Too Plastic” with surf film “Melali” at Pointbreak Bar and Grill, Burleigh Heads.

Oct 23 – Rise Above Plastics Burleigh Heads Rally (stayed tuned!!!)

November – Burleigh Heads official launch of Rise Above Plastics for businesses.

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