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Ocean Hero: Ava on why it’s never too early to start living sustainably

Ocean Heroes features stories of people from all around the world who deeply care about our nature, our health, and our planet's future. Down-to-earth people who decided to change the way they do laundry not because it's easier but because filtering microplastics is the right thing to do. 

Meet Ava, a 16 year-old Ocean Hero. While originally from England, Ava has been living on the Balearic Islands for the last five years. And, for a nature lover like her, there could hardly be a better place to be.

Ava loves spending time outdoors. She also loves horses and spends as much time as possible riding and caring for them. She also helps with the Plastic Ocean’s social media and blog (the Spanish branch). That’s how we got to meet her.

PlanetCare: Why have you decided to live sustainably?

Ava: I try as much as I can to be sustainable. I decided to go down this path because I saw what is happening to our planet and I just wanted to help in any way that I could. As I looked into things and started researching a little bit, I found that just by making tiny little changes I could help quite a lot. So, I started to do that and eventually I was changing more and more things. Now, you can hardly find plastic in our house.

PlanetCare: What do you do to lower your environmental impact?

Ava: The biggest thing is that my dad installed a filter, a separate tap. Because here in Spain you cannot drink tap water and you need to buy it bottled. When I saw just how many bottles we were throwing away each week … It was shocking. Now we have a filter and we can drink tap water and all the plastic bottles are gone. It really makes a huge difference.

I recycle habitually, use a shampoo bar, and beeswax wraps for my lunch.

Ava, Ocean Hero

We also wanted to stop buying fizzy water in plastic bottles, so we invested in a soda stream. Besides the fact that you eliminate the plastic waste, it also tastes better from the soda stream. It’s a win-win situation.

I also recycle habitually, use a shampoo bar, and beeswax wraps for my lunch. I don’t wrap anything in plastic and I use more food boxes rather than just wrapping things up.

I’m also encouraging others to do ditch plastic as much as possible and am making sure that the people I meet are aware about the problem of plastic waste.

PlanetCare: How did you find out about the microplastics pollution problem?

Ava: When I was 13, I started my Instagram account and I started learning more about plastic pollution. And as you learn more, you realise that there’s plastic in the ocean that you actually cannot see. That became a big problem for me. I investigated it more and found that millions are being released into the sea and rivers, lakes.

I then posted about it on my account and followed other accounts - just to make sure I was more aware, really. I think it was about a year after I learned about plastic pollution, that I learned about microplastic too.

PlanetCare: What are you doing to stop microfiber pollution?

Ava: To be completely honest, I was totally clueless about how I could help. Because with bigger pieces of plastic it’s very straight-forward; like don’t buy bottled water. But with micropladtic, I just didn’t know how I could do something.

And then I realised it’s coming from our clothes in the washing machines and was adamant to try to stop it. At first, I bought a bag to wash my clothes in. But it proved unpractical for a family of 4.

Then, I found out about PlanetCare, which just makes it easy. It sits there and you swap the cartridge when needed but otherwise it doesn’t change your laundry routine.

As far as looking at the materials from which my clothes are made of, that’s something I am working on. I do like shopping and I have to say it is easy to forget that you are essentially buying plastic clothes.

But since I got aware this is the case, I am paying more attention to which materials my clothes are made of and am trying to stay away from synthetic fabrics. I am now also avoiding fast fashion retailers and support local shops instead.

I also know that microplastics is being added to cosmetics but I am still learning more about this and am trying to get information about the cosmetics I do use. That’s my next step on the microplastics journey.

PlanetCare: Besides using a microfiber filter, what else is in your sustainable laundry routine?

Ava: When I first found out about the laundry issues, my first thought was ‘Where does all the detergent go?’ That then got me thinking about how we get our detergent – in massive plastic bottles. I then asked my parents to get washing strips instead. They did and the strips seem to work really well, so that’s really great.

We then also found a bio detergent that does come in a plastic bottle but we can refill it in a store over and over again, so that’s cool. As a rule, all the detergents we use are natural.

We also don’t use the tumble dryer because it really just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever to do so here. It is quicker to dry clothes outside, in the sun.

I am paying more attention to which materials my clothes are made of and am trying to stay away from synthetic fabrics.

Ava, Ocean Hero

PlanetCare: What's your advice for someone who is just starting to live sustainably?

Ava: Do your very best and don’t feel as though you’re not doing enough. Because every little change that you’re making counts. You’d be surprised how much you’re really doing to help.

And spread the word. Because the more people we have on this mission, the more will get done.

Lastly - don’t worry about not being completely sustainable at first. It will take time, so do it gradually, one swap after another.

PlanetCare: Is there something else you'd like to say?

Ava: Anyone can be sustainable no matter how old they are, where they live or what kind of lifestyle they have. We can all make one small change for our planet.

And I’d also just like to say a massive thank you to Plastic Ocean for making me more aware of the problem and with providing me with so many opportunities. And also thank you to PlanetCare for giving me the chance to share my story.

Follow Ava on Instagram at @ava.environmental

Photo credit: Ava and @ava.environmental

Masa Sprajcar-Rancic
Masa Sprajcar-Rancic
Masa spends a significant chunk of time on empowering people to live more sustainably by merging her knowledge of environmental sciences with behaviour change insights. When not at work she loves spending time outdoors, so you’ll most likely find her on her bike or at her allotment.

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