Boosted by high-profile programmes such as Planet Earth, the issue of plastic pollution in our seas is one that has moved very much from the margins to the mainstream.
But although huge in scale, as one speaker at this year’s Peebles Outdoor Film Festival (January 25-27) will highlight with remarkable grit and determination, it’s an issue that can be tackled on an individual level.
In 2016, Cal Major, a passionate surfer and stand-up paddleboarder, founded Paddle Against Plastic as a means of reconnecting people with the ocean environment and nurturing a desire to protect it.
To do so, she has used truly epic stand-up paddleboard adventures to capture imaginations, highlight the issue of plastic pollution close to home and promote positive change through simple solutions that people can be proud to be a part of.
Cal’s adventures began in 2016 when she undertook a 300-mile voyage around the Cornish coast. She followed this in 2017 with a solo circumnavigation of the Isle of Skye, which spawned an award-winning film, Skye’s the Limit.
And last year, she went bigger still: completing a world-first paddle from Land’s End to John O’Groats – a journey of 1,000 miles that took 59 days to complete.
“It was an expedition I’d had in the back of my mind for years,” explained Cal. “It was a way to demonstrate that, wherever we are in the UK, we’re never too far from plastic pollution, but also to highlight all the amazing things happening to help tackle the problem.”
As well being a massive physical challenge – battling tidal races, huge swells, hypothermia and exhaustion – each adventure was designed to highlight the effects of plastic pollution on even our wildest stretches of coastline.
And the need for protection is great: “Some of the pollution, especially close to cities, was staggering,” added Cal.
As such, Paddle Against Plastic aims to offer positive solutions that we can all be a part of. “There is a lot to be done, but this can only be done collaboratively, with caring about the problem the first step to being part of the solution,” said Cal.
Cal Major will headline the Making Waves session at the Peebles Outdoor Film Festival on Friday, January 25 at 6.30pm.
Tickets £15 from www.eastgatearts.com or 01721 725777.