Images // Tim Nunn

Longtime Approaching Lines friend and contributor Tim Nunn has spent a life travelling and shooting surf, in the early years film, then as editor of Wavelength Surfing magazine and most recently roaming the colder ends of the planet with fellow feral nomad Ian Battrick. But his journey has taken a new direction, especially when it comes to state of the environment in these remote places. We caught up with Tim to talk about The Plastic Project and using the power of photography, surfing and adventure to inspire the world to do something about this rubbish problem.

So Tim how did The Plastic Project come about?

It has happened pretty organically over the last year and has just gained momentum. I started doing talks about my book Numb and the adventures Ian Battrick and myself had, and along the way I’d talk about some of the environmental aspects. 

I started looking at old shots from trips I’d been on and realised the problem of marine litter wasn’t just in obvious places, but was affecting every coast I went to. It didn’t matter how remote, how far from population centres, the problem was everywhere. So I started talking about it in slideshows, and realised that the images I was taking were really engaging people, no science, no stats, just a little explanation of how the rubbish was getting here… It’s a very visual world we live in and if we want to get people to change the way they live, then we have to approach problems in this way.

Tim Nunn Photography // The Plastic Project

I was gutted at this place, it’s so remote, and there is no major population for hundreds of miles. I walked the beach and there was no litter, only to cross the storm ridge to find plastic and oil drums everywhere.

How is the project coming together?

Originally the whole project was due to run over about a year, it’s grown a lot bigger than that, and what was going to be a few talks and a website has grown into creating a visual map of the North Atlantic, produced not just by me but by other photographers, professionals and just people who are out there cleaning beaches who want to raise awareness about their areas.  I have people in Northern Norway, Shetland, Iceland and Greenland as well as over in the States.

I’m doing a number of expeditions myself, combing surf and adventure with this environmental angle. I am under no illusions, if I went to a load of places and took shots of rubbish on beaches the level of engagement would be a lot less than if it is included within adventure, surfing and showing people what an incredible world we live in. This will hopefully inspire them to experience it themselves and inspire them just to make a couple of differences in their life which will help change things. 

So from presenting everything online, in articles, at talks, we’re working on a full length documentary. With the help of experts, researchers and everyday people doing their part it’s going to make for an interesting film. We will be shooting from now onwards, I’ll be giving a couple of big mid way presentations along the way, firstly in London in August, at The London Surf / Film Festival in October and then The Royal Geographic Society in November to mention just a few. So it’s a modern social exploration, with web, print, film and face to face presentations to get the message over. 

Tim Nunn Photography // The Plastic Project

We’re currently in the process of filming a feature length documentary about the project.

So what do you hope will change?

We have to reach as many people as possible and try and make them change little pieces of their lives to end this pollution. I’m not anti plastic, it’s an essential part of life, I am anti unnecessary plastic and packaging, and not recycling what we do have to use.

There are little things that can make huge differences and they have to become natural to us: don’t buy your morning coffee in a one use cup, always recycle everything you can, if there is a product you’re buying which has a crazy un-needed amount of packaging, don’t buy it, and complain to the company about it, don’t use plastic bags…

We can blame big corporations, and think they should be doing more themselves, but we have the power to change this. I don’t want future generations thinking that our short term vision on life and consumerism screwed the oceans for them, I’m sure none of us do, so we have to make a change. 

Things like beach cleans, and just picking up a handful of rubbish every time you’re at the beach is incredibly important, but the only long term way we change this massive problem is by stopping litter entering the oceans, and that is the responsibility of every human on the planet. Reaching these people is the goal, and it starts here in Europe.

There are a number of ways you can support this awesome endeavour from spreading the word to snagging one of the gorgeous limited edition Plastic Project coffee table books full of photos, stories and findings from Norway, Greenland, Iceland, Scotland, Orkney, Shetland, Newfoundland, Russia, the Faroes, Ireland and beyond. For details hit the LINK

Details: Follow the project over the next year on Instagram and on The Plastic Project website