Friday, 20 December 2013

Seasons Greetings from Sea-Changers

In the final part of our Seasonal Blogs I wanted to share with you a series of images that have been especially designed for us by designer, Andy Wainwright. The images are designed with one aim...to challenge us all to actions that will help our oceans this Christmas.

Sea-Changers is a charity with a simple philosophy - small actions or donations, by people who love the sea, can create big sea-change. These powerful images call us all to take some small action: from stopping buying water in plastic bottles and reviewing our plactic use, to making a small donation to Sea-Changers to fund UK marine conservation projects. ...or simply sharing these images more widely.

If these images imspire you to create sea-change please visit our website which contains loads of ideas about how you can do just that. Or get in touch with Sea-Changers at : info@sea-changers.org.uk and talk to us about getting involved.








We Wish You a Waste Free Christmas - Seasons Greetings Part 3



So one of my major concerns about Christmas is waste...food, paper and packing, cards, unwanted presents etc. I find myself a little conflicted though. I'm not a baahh humbug. I like to buy presents, I like sending cards to contact people I haven't had chance to touch base with during the year, I like to look around the house and know it is Christmas. I do like to do Christmas. But I also worry there is so much waste around Christmas time: wasted wrapping paper, wasted cards, wasted food.
I know there are solutions and this year I have tried  to apply some of them to make my Christmas more green and sea-friendly....whilst retaining some Christmas sparkle. Let me know what you think.

Christmas cards
I have sent more E cards, & bought some cards made of recycled card. And I have also made some cards. But I have also reviewed my card list and downsized it. There are some people on my card list that I haven't seen in a long long time. So I have made a pledge...if I am not going to see people on my list again the I need to remove them from the list and not send a card.

Presents
So my thoughts on what to buy was in part one of the blog so I won't cover that again. But I am going to think about wrapping presents. I want my pressies to look good but the reality is that whatever I wrap presents in ends up in the bin. So I am planning to wrap presents in recycled paper or reusable gift bags or magazine pages. 
But what about using a pair of old curtains?....okay so I am not sure about this but I had an idea that I could use some cool cloth that could be used again and again and also looks a bit more fancy.

Food
Easy one this. In order to avoid buying too much food and ending up throwing food away I am going to plan my food menus so I buy only what I need....or alternatively I am going to buy no food at all and invite myself around to friends and family all Christmas and eat their food instead. This will ensure they don't have a surplus, save me a load of money and also ensure I don't have any food waste...way to go :)

Avoid buying products packed in plastic
I am also working hard to avoid plastic packaging in my supermarket shop. Here's how:
Taking Onya food bags to put my veggies in instead of taking plastic bags available
Buying drinks etc in glass bottles rather than plastic ones
Making different choices of products so I am avoiding products with lots of plastic.

Going Crackers
I dont buy crackers but I wanted to share with you a wesbites I came across that make and sell reusble crackers.A cool way to avoid waste and still have the fun of he cracker on Christmas Day. Any you can fill them with gifts that people may actually want or use again.

I am sure there is loads more I could be doing. So if youhave other ideas,please let me know and help me to have 'a Very Waste Free Christmas' ...the same to you.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Sea-Changing and Seasonal Greetings Part Two



This is a really short blog. I have been thinking about great books and DVDs that you could buy to either spread a bit of ocean love, or to raise a bit of ocean awareness and fit in the Christmas Stocking of a loved one. It is simply a list off the top of my head of things I have come across so do feel free to add your own ideas and suggestions:

Books
Roz Savage - Stop Drifting, Start Rowing - an adventure story with a difference as Roz reflects on how her solo row across three oceans brought her a personal perspective on the need for active  engagement with the environment.
Callum Roberts - Oceans of Life -  If you want a book to summarise what's up with our seas...and what we need to do about it, this is the one.
Helen Scales - Poseidon's Steed.-This gorgeous book tells the story of seahorses through time and geography. Wonderful.  
Maya Plass - The RSPB Handbook of the Seashore - Explore your coastline with wide eyes and take this invaluable and beautiful handbook to inform you. You will never look at a rockpool in the same way again. 
Matt Rigney - In Pursuit of Giants. Never thought I would've interested in a book about fishing for big fish but this book is fab. Opened my eyes to the passion of those involved in this sport and the marine conservation issues involved....exciting, and thought provoking 
Todd Mcleish - Narwals. Todd’s book engages readers in an exciting examination of the many questions and curiosities that surround the sea unicorn.


 DVDs
Blackfish - Blackfish tells the story of Tilikum, a performing killer whale that killed several people while in captivity. It examines the species' cruel treatment in captivity. 
Blue Planet - Can't go wrong with a bit of David Attenborough and the sea
Sharkwater - Shark saving adventure & true strory
Finding Nemo - Go on, you know you want to...
Hebrides - Islands on the Edge - The series introduces an unforgettable wild animal cast struggling to survive, on these magical islands.
Frozen Planet - the ultimate portrait of the earth's Polar regions.
End of the Line - an oldie but a still a ground breaking documentary about the threats ot our seas.

I am sure there is loads I have missed so fill in any gaps....and give me ideas of additional pressies I should have in my Christmas stocking :D Final thought. Most of the links here are from Amazon (other suppliers are available) But if you do shop at Amazon for these of any other gifts, you can raise money for us and no cost to you. Simply sign up to Give as you Live or Easyfundraising and see the money come rolling in.


Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Sea-Changing & Seasonal Greetings Part One



I sort of like Christmas. I say "sort of" because I have really mixed feelings about it. I love seeing family and spending time with friends, I love the feeling of nostalgia it evokes in me, I love the way it can bring people together and gives an opportunity to think of others, ....and so on. There's a "but" for me, as I suspect there is for many of us. I usually finish the festive season tired from staying up late and going out too much, a few pounds heavier from overindulgence; appalled at the amount of unnecessary expense and waste that Christmas creates and generally glad the commercial fest it has now become is all over for another year.  

So, this year I am going to try and think of some practical ways I can offset the impact of Christmas and make it a time where I can have some positive impact on the world around me. And, given that I love the ocean I am going to direct my efforts towards changing the seas for the better. This does not mean I am giving up Christmas....not at all. Nor does it mean I will be spending Christmas Day cleaning my favourite beach (although that does sound quite appealing). But it does mean I am going to try hard to build small sea-changing actions into my Christmas planning over the next few weeks. And I am going to share my ideas with you so you can join in if you want, or apply some of the ideas to the causes close to your hearts.

So, given that the last weekend was one of the biggest online shopping weekends of the year this is where I turn my attention to first....BUYING PRESENTS:

Buy Presents and Give to Charity Without it Costing a Penny
Christmas is expensive enough so I love ideas that help me raise money for Sea-Changers without costing me a penny. So how about these:

  • Raising money with every present idea search.  Through Easysearch I have raised money with every search for presents I have done.  This weekend, I made forty searches and raised 20p for Sea -Changers. Okay, so it's not big bucks on its own, but they were online searches I was going to make anyway. And if 100 of you did the same, the pennies soon become pounds...if 1,000 of you joined in we'd raise hundreds of pounds, and Sea-Changers could use that money for grants to grass roots marine conservation projects around the UK.
  • Raising money with every present bought online. There are a number of routes you can follow to do this but the principle is the same (we recommend either Give as You Live or Easyfundraising.) Loads of retailers will make a donation to your chosen charity when you make an online purchase. For example, Amazon will donate 1.5%,  John Lewis will donate 2% and Sports Direct will donate 2.75%. Over the last ten days I have spent £100 at a range of retail outlets online and through that I have donated around a fiver to Sea-Changers ....and it cost me nothing. And it is not just presents you can buy. I have bought train tickets, and  booked a hotel and both raised more money for Sea-Changers.
  • Making Sea-Changers a favourite on eBay. This one is more indirect, but I have decided to sell a few bits and bobs on eBay to raise cash for Sea-Changers (more later). Simply by making Sea-Changers my favourite charity I can potentially raise money because doing this gives all those who purchase from me on eBay a prompt to make a donation to Sea-Changers at the check out stage. Clearly not everyone will do this but some people will. So out of my ten sale items maybe a couple of people will donate....kerrrrrching, more money in the pot.

Buying cool stuff that helps the seas
Got to be careful what I say here because I don't want to spoil the surprises for nearest and dearest by disclosing my present list, but I have also be thinking long and hard about buying presents that are good for the seas as well as good for the recipients. I want people to be pleased with what they get and not open my gift with trepidation (wondering if it will be a bag of home spun knitted muesli) but here are a few ideas so far:


Make Stuff
Okay, so I  have cheated a bit on this one. The only presents I have made are jars of blackberry and redcurrant jam ("oh no, not another jar" I hear family members groan); but actually homemade stuff can be fun and just as welcome, if not more welcome than shop bought gifts. So whatever your talent is: crocheting, planting bulbs, baking a cake, throwing a pot: homemade presents are potentially cheaper, definitely more love-filled and environmentally friendly (therefore sea-loving) gifts.

That's all for now, more Christmas ideas soon. In the meantime, I am sure your ideas will be loads better than mine so post them below or, post them to a wider audience on our Facebook page and we will share and post to Twitter. I tell you what...best suggestion will receive a jar of my jam :D


Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Giving the Gift of Diving...and Helping Sea-Changers Along the Way.



I am pleased to introduce a guest blog this month written by diver and Sea-Changer supporter, Iain Sharp. Iain got involved in our big fundraising SeaBay sale earlier this year by bidding for and winning a try dive session for some none diver friends. Iain has written a blog about the impact of his eBay purchase and it is great to read about his efforts to introduce others to the underwater world.. A big thanks to Iain for his purchase which raised money for UK marine conservation and great to hear the outcome of his support.

Iain wrote: 
 I have been interested in the work of Sea-Changers ever since I came across them earlier this year as I developed my own scuba-related website www.FiveMetreStop.Com

One of the ways that I was able to support Sea-Changers was via their numerous eBay sales that they ran to raise funds for the organisation. One of the sales that they undertook were some try-a-dive session, via a donation from Diveworld in Sheffield and being Yorkshire based myself, this got me really interested.

My wife and I have known Kathy & Bob since well before we were married and knowing my interest in diving, I’d often talk about my latest adventures, so I persuaded them to come and have a try-a-dive at some point. Sadly, for many reasons, all the previous efforts were thwarted in the past and the Sea-Changers sale seemed the perfect opportunity to finally get them to encounter the underwater world. I not only won a session for Kathy & Bob, but also the opportunity for their children Ruby and Arthur too.

Dates for the session were arranged with the Diveworld and they even allowed permission for me to sit at the bottom of the pool and ‘keep an eye’ on my friends.

Naturally, in the run up to the session, I tried to answer as many questions as I could to satisfy their curiosity, whilst not wanting to spoil the experience too much.

“What will it be like down there ?”
“Will it hurt ?”
“Will I get ‘the bends’ ?”

Upon arriving at the pool, in the suburbs just to the south of Sheffield, we all checked in. Whilst I have taught people to dive in the past, I wanted to give DIveworld enough space and latitude to conduct their own session without interruption.On the poolside, they gave Kathy, Bob and Ruby a briefing on the Discover Scuba session they were about to undertake and also made some arrangement for Arthur, who was too young to undergo the full programme.

The swimming pool session was an excellent opportunity for my to test some of my own equipment and an excellent excuse for me to assemble my kit well away from my friends briefing. After sorting out wetsuits, masks and other equipment for the whole group and ensuring that any last questions had been answered, it was time to get everyone in to the water. The instructors and dive masters with the school were really professional and ensured that everyone had the correct kit on, it was fitted properly and that they were ready for the session.

Then came the moment that anyone who has tried scuba diving will never forget, watching in turn as Bob, Ruby and Kathy popped their heads face down in the water and drew a breath from their regulator. Seeing and breathing underwater, without surfacing in a coughing panic for the first time is an eye-widening experience. It’s a fantastic experience and one I never tire of watching in learners. My friends were no exception, The session progressed by getting the small group to swim in the shallow part of the pool and experience the weightlessness that scuba diving brings you, neutrally buoyant so you neither float or sink in even that shallow part of the pool. The instructor formed a small semi-circle on the bottom of the pool and then proceeded to give a clear demonstration of what they wanted the group to do in turn. The first was to take the regulator out of the mouth and blow bubbles under the water, before replacing the mouthpiece and thanks to the clear demonstration, this is exactly what the entire group did.

The final part of the session was an exercise putting water to the mask and clearing it again. After a demonstration, the group had a go with varying degrees of success, but after teaching this skill myself, the reactions were not unexpected. The great thing is that by the end of the exercise, everyone had completed the task successfully.

Like many dives, time flew by and it was soon time to finish the session. Whist I was watching a short distance away, this was now time for me to swim over and see how my friends were feeling. Their eyes and reactions said it all afterwards and they were genuinely ‘blown away’ by the experience.

“That was amazing
“Fantastic ,,,,”

One final point, whilst little Arthur was unable to participate in the full session due to his age, the Dive School ensured that he had a great time with a mask and snorkel on in the pool
Both splashing away and watching what was going on under the water too and of course, just as soon as he is old enough, he wants to try scuba diving too.

Whilst I had fielded some questions before the session from my friends, there were plenty more questions afterwards as we were getting changed about what the next steps might be and they all seem keen about taking one of the numerous basic open water diver courses out there, at some point in the future.

They thanked me at the end of the session before heading home, but the real thanks should go to Sea-Changers for putting the eBay sale together in the first place and also to Diveworld Dive School for both donating the session to Sea-Changers in the first place and their professional efforts in briefing then teaching my friends first (hopefully of many ?) under water experiences. 

If you run a dive business checkout our website for lots of ideas about how you can get involved and help to raise vital funds for UK marine conservation projects.eBay is also a really easy way to raise money for Sea-Changers. If you buy or sell on eBay you can help us - just click here for more details.