As she swam out into the ocean to catch a wave, pro-surfer Lucy Campbell’s hand hit something very familiar.
Then it happened again. And again. And again.
‘Every stroke I took, my hand would be full of soft plastic,’ remembers the 26-year-old of her trip to Africa a few years ago. ‘Bottles, carrier bags, wrappers. It makes your heart sink.’
It wasn’t the first time Cornwall-based Lucy had seen the extent of the problem – spending her life in the ocean has made her acutely aware of the damage we are doing to our planet.
Lucy Campbell, 26, is a British surfing champion who’s working with NIVEA to raise awareness of the problem of plastic pollution around the world
And it’s why she’s signed up to become NIVEA’s sustainability ambassador, so she can raise awareness of the crisis.
British Women’s surfing champion Lucy explains: ‘I’m going in the ocean every day and that’s when you notice changes and differences over time.
‘When I started surfing aged nine or ten, plastic was around – I remember tins of paint floating past me and thinking it was weird. But it’s definitely got more noticeable in the past six to eight years.
‘I see all spells. It depends where you are. In Cornwall, plastic bottles are common as are little pieces of plastic that have been broken down and washed up. And nurdles.’
Nurdles are tiny, lentil-sized pieces of plastic that should go on to be melted down and turned into objects we recognize. But as they are transported across the world, many are spill and get into our waterways, where they are eaten by marine wildlife that mistakes them for food.
‘They’re washed off ships and they’re everywhere,’ Lucy says. ‘If you visit a beach, you’ll spot them on the tideline – sadly they’re easy to find.’
Lucy says the problem of plastic in our oceans is so widespread, it makes her feel hopeless
It’s a problem the world over, as Lucy’s witnessed. ‘You see what you think is a perfect island yet it’s knee-deep in plastic. The tideline is littered with debris and wildlife is trying to live among it.
‘It stays with you, you feel helpless – you can’t take a bin bag and fill it up because one bag won’t even make a dent in it.
‘Seeing it day in, day out has made me passionate about letting people know what I see.’
SMALL CHANGES – BIG EFFECT
Oceans are essential to the future of our planet as they provide half the oxygen we breathe and absorb nearly a third of our carbon emissions.
Yet they’re being choked by plastic pollution. Every year between nine and 14m tons of the stuff enter our waters, reducing their ability to help us fight climate change and threatening 40pc of marine mammals with extinction.
It’s why the UK’s number 1 skincare company NIVEA has committed to a ‘Plastic Pledge’ to introduce 100pc refillable, reusable or recyclable packaging by 2025.
And, as less than half of UK adults recycle bathroom products, they’ve put together plenty of simple, low-cost tips to help us all make our bathing routines greener.
‘We want to help out but it’s daunting and overwhelming,’ says Lucy. ‘However, the changes we can make are quite small – it doesn’t take much time to remember to rinse a bottle and pop it in the recycling. And why not have a recycling bin in your bathroom?
‘When I’m at home, I reuse things, pop to the refill store where I can and recycle. I’ve looked at where my main plastic use was and changed to shampoo bars and face wash bars to cut out the plastic.
‘One of the biggest changes has been using things up before I buy new products. It’s easy to see a new face cream and think, ‘I want to slather that over my face’, but now I use up what I’ve got before trying something new.’
TAKING THE PLASTIC PLEDGE
With their Plastic Pledge, NIVEA has been trying to do a lot of the hard work for their customers.
‘From the products I’ve seen, I’m really impressed,’ says Lucy, whose next surfing challenge is the World Qualifying Series in July. ‘They’ve gone back to the drawing board and put so much research into new products.
‘Most of their bottles – things like shower gel – are 97pc post-consumer plastic which means by people putting bottles into the recycling, it’s making new bottles which is incredible.
Lucy says we can all do our bit by recycling not just in the kitchen, but in the bathroom too
‘They’ve got a refillable hand soap that comes with tablets – you fill it up with water, pop in the tablet and it becomes soap. There’s no plastic in the packaging, it’s reusable and it will last for years.
‘They’ve made it affordable and doable – it’s what we all need. They’re proving they can do it and not leaving room for excuses from other brands.’
She wants everyone to get on board to reduce the plastic threat in our seas.
‘If everyone takes a little step, we’re one step closer to saving our oceans,’ she says.
PRODUCTS THAT CARE FOR YOU… AND THE PLANET
NIVEA knows that to have a healthy skin we need a healthy environment. That’s why they’re committed to producing climate-conscious products with a reduced carbon footprint.
Here are a couple we love!
Ecorefill Hand Soap
Loved by Lucy Campbell, this eco-friendly hand soap comes in three beautiful scents: lemongrass, cotton flower and hibiscus & honeysuckle.
The bottle is made of recycled material, as is the packaging (which can also be recycled) while the soap is dermatologically approved, biodegradable and made from naturally derived ingredients.
Once you’ve finished the bottle, simply fill it with warm water, add the refill tab that comes with it, shake for 30 seconds and – hey presto – you’ve ready to go again.
And you can keep buying tabs for an environmentally friendly way to wash your hands.
The NIVEA eco refill hand soap comes in three delicious scents, and looks good, too
Plastic free, vegan and made from 99pc natural origin products, this is the first of the NIVEA range to have achieved the Ecocert® Cosmos Natural certification that guarantees environmentally friendly production.
Choose from the Radiance Cleansing Bar with rose extract and vitamin E for a natural glow, the Refreshing Face Cleansing Bar with almond oil and blueberry for rejuvenated skin, or the Exfoliating Face Scrub with active charcoal for a deep cleanse, knowing you’re helping protect our planet.
The NIVEA WonderBAR contains rose extract and vitamin E for a natural glow
*For tips on simple and low-cost ways to reduce, reuse and recycle bathroom plastic, go to nivea.co.uk/sustainability #cutbackonplasticpollution