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The Plastic Project

One Photographer’s Mission to Use Surf and Adventure to inspire generations to change.

Tim Nunn is a photographer, writer, editor and filmmaker from Suffolk in the UK. He’s one of the most travelled surf photographers in Europe and spent an inordinate amount of time in the last fifteen years exploring the colder waters of Northern Europe.

On this journey into what has been labelled as ‘cold water surfing’ the Geography/Environmental Science graduate, made some startling discoveries whilst making his acclaimed book Numb.

“I was going to all of these really remote places, miles from civilisation, and every year I’d go more and more remote and the amount of rubbish on beaches would grow.”

After touring with his book Numb he found that by combining surf and adventure with an environmental message he was able to engage and present the realities of how bad marine litter was getting beyond the normal areas we see.

“I’ve been really privileged that my job has taken me to some of the wildest places in the Northern Hemisphere. When I started, twenty odd years ago, these places had some rubbish, but really not much; fishing debris here and there at most.

But in twenty years some beaches have become rubbish dumps, we’re talking incredibly remote beaches, beaches that no one else will see. My reaction has been to set out to show people how beautiful our planet is, how we can all go on adventures and get to know this place we call home. I go to places and find rubbish, plastic that has travelled miles to be there, dead seabirds wrapped in beer can holders, whole dune systems anchored by fishing nets, the vast amount of waste from the oil industry, the list goes on.

The reason why I’m doing this now is to help to inspire people to make a daily change in their lifestyle. We can all do this, for it’s this unseen effect of rubbish in the sea which I want to point out to people of all ages across the world in order to help affect something of a shift before we choke our planet.”

Using a library of over twenty years of photography Tim is able to give people an insight into the impact we are having on remote and otherwise pristine coastlines. Through talks, slideshow and film evenings more and more people are becoming aware of this issue. Events in educational establishments as well as film festivals and associations is having the effect of the whole project snowballing and reaching further into both the surfing and the non surfing world.

The ocean makes for an incredible subject to shoot, but its beauty belies the problems that are found beneath.

What attracts a photographer to the Arctic to surf and shoot are incredible light and mind blowing scenery. Here surfer Micah Lester provides the subject, but beneath the surface even this remote stretch of Norway is covered in rubbish.

We take the ocean for granted, yet we all have a connection to it; spiritually, culturally, for leisure, for work and for food.

“On a personal note, I want my son to be able to go on an adventure to Iceland or Norway in twenty years time like I did when I was younger and find it untouched by human rubbish, because right now it would be a struggle.”

The Plastic Project is part of a growing movement, one that has been pioneered by pressure groups like Surfers Against Sewage right down to local beach cleaning collectives, all involved are vital in promoting a change at government, corporate and personal levels.

You can follow and support the plastic project through www.theplastic-project.com as Tim heads off to more and more remote coastlines.

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