What do you get when you distill the passion of three individuals with a common disdain for plastic-marine pollution -- Take 3! Established in 2009 by Amanda Marechal, Roberta Dixon-Valk and Tim Silverwood, Take 3 is an Australian not-for-profit organisation with a simple message: Take three pieces of rubbish with you when you leave the beach, waterway or...anywhere, and you have made a difference.
Our aim is to reduce the impacts of plastic pollution through education and participation.
Take 3 is achieving growing global success through its simple, empowering messages of personal responsibility for the growing problem of plastic pollution in our oceans, waterways and broader environment.
The reason for this is we have a massive problem! And it is an ever-growing problem.
Plastic Marine Pollution
We share this planet with approximately 7.3 billion people and counting (http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/), with all of us producing waste. A large percentage of this is waste is plastic -- non-biodegradable packaging which may take 20-1000 years to fully break down (http://www.cleanup.org.au/au/Campaigns/plastic-bag-facts.html). Humans are the only living species on this planet that produces waste that nature can't break down. A recent study in the journal Science estimates we are putting in 8.8 million tonnes of plastic into our world oceans every year. This is the same amount of tuna that is caught and taken out of the ocean annually.
Plastic pollution can cause injury or death to millions of animals annually through entanglement or starvation (following ingestion). When plastic gets into the ocean, it breaks up but doesn't biodegrade -- creating a plastic soup that is choking our marine life, including protected species of birds, sharks, turtles, fish and marine mammals.
Take 3 empowers everyone, everyday to make a positive change and remove plastic pollution. It provides a proactive way to engage everyone on this growing global issue and it also encourages everyone to critically assess his or her own plastic footprint. We can all do better!
Take 3's major turning point was winning the Taronga Conservation Society Inaugural Green Grant in 2011. This gave us the opportunity to start a website, build our profile and develop our educational programs. It has also given us an ongoing relationship with Taronga Zoo, including alignments with Taronga Education.
Take 3 works directly with local councils, government departments, businesses, schools (pre-school, primary and secondary), surf-lifesaving clubs and community/environmental/recreational groups to increase awareness of plastic pollution, reduce waste and prevent sources of pollution.
Our educational programs have been instrumental in creating a groundswell of support in Australia.
· The Take 3 Early Childhood Program included the development of resources and workshops to assist early childhood educators engage pre-schoolers and their families.
· In the past three years, Take 3 has visited more than 100,000 students in Australian Primary and Secondary schools. Students are provided with a clear, engaging outline of the impact human-made trash on the marine environment, and are then challenged to develop their own strategies to make a positive difference within their local community or school campus. The results of these student-led initiatives constantly amaze!
· In 2014, Take 3 was implemented into the University of Newcastle, Central Coast Campus Teaching Scientific Literacy program, where students are able to gain the understanding and information to write lesson plans around this waste issue and are able to take this to schools after graduating.
· Australia is renowned for its active surf-lifesaving community. Funding from NSW Environmental Trust has enabled the development of the Take 3 Surf Life Saving program -- educating thousands of young beach-loving Aussies.
For the success of any program, it is important to first look at the interests of the demographic you wish to engage and give some ownership to stakeholders. When people are given an understanding of an issue and some role in being part of the solution, the chances are you will have better results.
The use of social media, specifically Instagram and Facebook, has been a key element in engaging people interested in the marine-debris issue. It's a vehicle for sharing stories, information, events, facts and posts from other individuals/organisations who are tackling the marine-debris issue. The ongoing validation of people's actions through social media creates a huge momentum and is a key to solving this complex problem.
The beauty of social media is that we can instantly see when and where someone has used the #Take3fortheSea hashtag -- and understand our global reach.
Having our Ambassador Program has been essential to the growth of our social media and in attracting new audiences. High-profile skaters, surfers, fishers, photographers, musicians and artists attract the respect and add to community connections and increase media profile.
Take 3 now has supporters all over the world, including chapters in Hawaii, Ireland, UK, Scotland, USA, Costa Rica and Portugal. The next step is developing an App to accurately collect data on the common types of plastic marine pollution, to further understand the issue and solutions.
For more information, head to:
www.instagram.com/take3cleanbeach (@take3cleanbeach) Facebook.com/take3.a.clean.beach.initiative
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in partnership with Ocean Unite, an initiative to unite and activate powerful voices for ocean-conservation action. The series is being produced to coincide with World Oceans Day (June 8), as part of HuffPost's "What's Working" initiative, putting a spotlight on initiatives around the world that are solutions oriented. To read all the posts in the series, read here.