The Garbage Man
Text by Nikolai Schirmer
I wanted to be a surfer; to move under the folds of the mountains that roll through the sea, to see the sunlight break through the drops of water above me, to touch my hand to the otherwise shapeless drops of water held together during the wave's long journey from ocean to shore. As a 12-year-old, I was lucky enough to experience the living valleys of the Great Barrier Reef, deep underwater off the coast of Australia. I also surfed the entire east coast, and to my enormous joy discovered that I could continue surfing beside the snow-covered pebble beaches back home in Northern Norway.
But now my hand touches plastic, my snorkel gets blocked with microplastics, and the coral reefs are dying in seas that are becoming steadily more acidic with every tonne of CO2 they absorb. Pollution and emissions are not a new problem, but there has been a growing focus on waste in the sea in recent years, especially plastic waste. We are filling the seas with plastic, which breaks down incredibly slowly and fills the stomachs of whales and seabirds. Our footprint has never been bigger.
Next to giving someone a hug, clearing trash is probably the easiest thing you can do to make the world a little better. Even very young children can master this art. Norrøna ambassador Merrick Mordal dropped by last week with her two youngsters. On the way, they had personally picked up all sorts of plastic and paper trash, proudly tossing it all into the respective trash cans.
Beach cleanup days are organized every year by Hold Norge Rent; they usually take place in springtime and are a fun event for adults and children alike. If you follow enough environmental organizations on social media, you'll find out about at least two or three chances to join forces with the local community and clean up beaches. The one that I joined in fall 2018 even had a party afterwards!