Adventure to Conserve Fiji on a "Mermaid Retreat"
I would like to invite you to join me on something truly dear to my heart. An adventure with purpose. Designed after the travels that shaped my life in the most fulfilling way. A weeklong excursion that appeals due to the exotic location and is important because of the conservation efforts made. I welcome you to join me on a Mermaid Retreat in Fiji this July.
I spent the years after college with my closest girlfriends campaigning to ban disposable plastics, cleaning beaches as we adventured with our saved up pennies, & sharing solutions we learned as our awareness grew about the long-term, serious impact of plastic pollution. We founded SAVE THE MERMAIDS to educate our community, support legislation against plastic pollution, & increase awareness through communications campaigns.
After founding Save The Mermaids, a few of us friends adventured to Central and South America. I was inspired to the core with my mission to reduce my plastic impact to zero and exponentially multiply my awareness impact. I cleaned every beach I visited, presented about plastics at any school that would endure my broken spanish, painted educational murals, connected with any politician that would meet with me, and even painted a giant bed sheet with mermaids holding anti-plastic protest signs with holes for heads to create a portable photo opportunity. It was messy cleaning the beaches of these poor, paradisal places, but plastics are not cost-efficient to recycle like glass or metal. So, who would take this on?
The beaches, the creeks, and the countryside were similarly littered with plastic trash from country to country. The trash had English words, Western brand names. The trash was from products that had been imported and designed by wealthier nations. They sold billions of products packaged in disposable plastics, but never cared to set up recycling plants or waste management systems. So the packaging went where all packaging went. ON THE GROUND.
Traditionally, these cultures packaged things in banana leaves or something natural, so when you were finished, you could toss it in the bush and it would decompose. The idea that something would not break down in the environment was as foreign as these new fancy products.
Seeing this immense waste, lack of education, and lack of resources was upsetting. The emotion transformed into determination. We returned to California where we have plenty of resources and are considered an environmentally-progressive state. After years spent campaigning to ban single-use plastic bags, we were successful. Then the law was overturned. Finally it passed again in 2016. Politics work, but are too slow and with too many loopholes. I have also tried pitching PR strategies to corporations to become the eco-leaders, to team up with pro surfers and show their regard for the ocean. They are full of excuses. They cannot afford to alienate their customers who "rely on the convenience" of plastics. Hmm.
An analysis of my greatest impact took me back to my travels through Latin America. It brought me back to a core belief: the power of the ripple effect. It reminded me of the power of the individual. By sharing my passion with a few key individuals through epic adventures, meaningful conservation, & positive discussion we can shift the world. Gradually. As all social shifts occur.
CHANGE OCCURS SLOWLY. NOT ALL AT ONCE.
Last year, I was on a tourist visa in Australia and I had to leave the country to avoid overstaying my allotted time. I perused flights to nearby countries, all of which were magnificent tropical islands. Fiji had recently been struck by the devastating Cyclone Winston, resulting in cheap air travel.
I contacted a conservation colleague Adrian, of Ocean Ambassadors, a non-profit that has put in years of hard yards working with local communities, government, & commercial interests in Fiji to reduce plastic use & pollution. He invited me to stay on his catamaran. We cleaned beaches and used his very rare Plastic to Fuel Gasifier. This machine melted the beach trash into burnable fuel. Not an entirely clean process, it would not work on a large scale; however, it certainly transformed the beach trash into something useful.
Fiji is one of the most beautiful places on Earth and one of the top destinations for surf trips, honeymoons, and tropical getaways. Yet, plastic litters the beaches. The native Fijians still wrap things in banana leaves and weave baskets from pandanus palms, but of course they have incorporated plastic packaged foods into their diets and it is rare to have reliable trash systems in place beyond burning the plastic up creek. This leaks into the drinking water and the sea, which they rely on for fish. One piece of trash could kill a sea turtle, who should live to be 80 years old. Every piece of trash picked up is less trash a struggling village may have to deal with.
If we can alternate cleaning the beaches of paradise, with enjoying them, we will start to build the awareness I felt in my earlier travel days. Although the change must happen on a massive scale, it must happen first on an individual scale.
I want to return to FIJI with reinforcements. The country still needs the tourism dollars to rebuild. The country needs help cleaning beaches that are littered with trash. But most of all, we can have an incredible adventure rich with the goodies of a "retreat," such as yoga, meditation, snorkelling, & more whilst also GIVING BACK. Not only to the beaches we clean, the communities we volunteer in, or the local economies we support--but in our GLOBAL ripple.
SMALL CHANGES FROM A SMALL VOICE, MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
WHY RETREAT? It has long been my belief that the body & the earth are to be treated with a similar mindset, with similar care. I followed this instinct to train in Yoga, in meditation, and now Ayurvedic Medicine. All beautiful ancient Indian traditions, none of which require plastic, all of which recommend turning within and to nature for true happiness.
When we treat our body with love, kindness, and respect--we are far more capable of achieving the many other things that make us tick. I found yoga simply as a way to stay fit, however, the benefits emotionally, mentally, and spiritually took me by surprise. The daily practice and gradual evolution of openness in body and stillness in mind, have taught me a great deal about how to eventuate lasting change. It is not overnight. It is with commitment to small steps, and faith in the bigger picture.
So has my quest for reduced plastic pollution evolved. Initially I wanted change NOW! I had little patience for political systems or business bottom lines. Even now, I get frustrated by the red tape. However, I have changed where I place my faith. Instead of chipping away at big corporations or wishy-washy politicians, I invest in the individual.
When I was in Fiji, I would wake up with the sun, do a yoga session before the heat of the day, eat a fresh papaya, dive into the ocean with my mask and fin, all before Adrian would show up with our day's plan. I have designed our week together with a similar balance of activities, including daily sailing, yoga, snorkelling, and an element of conservation--whether cleaning beaches and visiting local communities or learning how to avoid plastic packaging by making our own products from simple ingredients.
This is a trip for the adventurous of spirit. For women who love the ocean. Who want to make a difference in the world, but perhaps don't know how yet. Who want to learn how to use their VOICE. This is a trip for yogis, for mermaids, for activists, for leaders, for conservationists, for change makers! And if you don't identify with any of those yet, then definitely come along. Let us embark on an adventure of a lifetime. Let me show you what being a "mermaid" means to me.
Join the plastic free lifestyle for your one, unique life and amplify your positive ripple.