GUEST BLOG - Tread Lighter
Libby Bowles has been pedalling around NZ spreading an important message and luckily she found the time to write us a guest blog about how this all began. Libby lived in Queenstown for 4 years from 2007 - 2011, so it was very special to her to finish her trip here.
Here's her story:
After 6 years working in marine conservation, diving with the world’s largest rays, sharks and turtles, I was haunted by seeing numerous animals getting harmed and killed by nets, fishing lines and by ingesting plastic. So I decided to do something about it. I made a bamboo bicycle, at the Bamboo Bicycle Club in London, where I was voted bamboo bicycle maker of 2017. I am on a mission to cycle around the whole world, educating people about ocean plastics and single use plastic in particular. You know, because… dream BIG, right?!
I spent the past 5 months cycling around New Zealand doing talks in schools, surf clubs (anywhere really, actually!) to educate tomorrow’s superhero change-makers about the issues of plastic in the ocean. 75% of beach rubbish in New Zealand (stats from Sustainable Coastlines) is single use plastic. With an estimated 5 trillion pieces of plastic in the world’s oceans, it’s unlikely we can pick it all out of the sea, but if we can stop using single use plastic, that immediately makes a huge difference. I’ve spoken to over 7,000 kids and 600+ adults in 65 schools on the North and South Islands and Waiheke Island too!
So, you don’t need to go and clean beaches, parks, local gutters and drains to be awesome (although if you do, that is totally fantastic too!). Just be avoiding single use plastics, you are making a huge difference. Refuse to use! Plastic drinks bottles, straws, plastic bags, cling film / Glad Wrap and disposable coffee cups are a great place to start. And you can start today, right NOW. Just remember to say ‘no straw thanks’ when you order a drink, or ‘no plastic bag thanks’ next time you’re in the supermarket and how about beeswax wraps instead of cling film in your lunchbox?!
The journey so far has been nothing short of wonderful. I have been taken in by so many kind Kiwis, who have fed me, clothed me, advised me on the best routes and tracks and my heart has been filled with hope when I meet hundreds of children who want to change the world and make it a better place. I found the hills far too numerous and far too steep to start with, but I have come to gain some level of sick pleasure in knowing that the uphills get a bit easier. Each time you can make it a bit further before having to stop and catch your breath. I have grown to love singing to cows and sheep and see them as little cheerleaders, bleating and staring as their way of offering encouragement. The spectacular scenery keeps me energised and focused on what it is that we love and protect. All things considered, New Zealand turned out to be the perfect place to start my kaupapa; safe, friendly, helpful, challenging and beautiful. New Zealand continues to occupy a very large space in my heart.