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Ocean Conservation with Love Island's Laura Crane!

📸 Hannah Anderson

Quick fire questions...

ConCon: Favourite animal?

LC: Dolphin. I think they are one of the only larger animals in the water that are beautiful but not scary! I remember the first time I ever saw dolphins, it was in the UK - they would come towards you in the waves and then as you duck-dived towards them they would split last minute. It was like playing with them.

ConCon: Favourite country to surf?

LC: Portugal. I think after everywhere I have travelled, I love being so close to home and the quality of waves and how clean the ocean is there.

ConCon: Next ideal travel destination

LC: I really want to go to the Philippines. I want to live there for a while. There are a few new waves that have just been found there that are not super crowded yet, so that would be cool.

ConCon: What do you see as the largest conservation issue to do with the ocean?

LC: Plastic pollution. It is super sad and for sure the number 1.

📸 Bo Eide

Main questions...

ConCon: Best and worst encounter with a marine animal whilst surfing?

LC: They are probably both the same. I was in Hawaii, no older than around 16 (we used to spend a month out there every November, it was the last leg of the tour). We knew there were a lot of sharks and shark attacks in the region, so it is something that played on your mind the entire month. We were always thinking of sharks because the channels are really deep there, and they were always around. It was the last day and it was a really big day.

I paddled out through the channels, the deeper parts where the sharks hang out, and I caught my first wave and it was way bigger than anything I had ever surfed before so I was a bit like ‘Oh shit, maybe I’ll just chill and let a few waves come through’. There were 5 other guys out on the water, the boys were a bit older than me and so they were sitting a bit further out and there was a set of waves that came through which they caught in and I was there pretty much alone for like 5 minutes and all I was thinking was ‘I hope I don’t see a shark right now’.

Then on the other side of the beach there was a place called Turtle Bay (because lots of turtles go there to lay their eggs at night) and as I was paddling out there was a guy paddling out from that beach and as we met he was shouting ‘Go in, go in, there is a tiger shark’, and I have never moved so fast! As much as it was super scary, it gives you that feeling that the sea is not our home, it isn’t ours. I love being in there and it has given me a lot of things, but it taught me that it is their home and when they are around you get out. It gives you a lot of respect for the ocean.

📸 Tomas Kotouc

ConCon: Who do you admire most in the world of conservation?

LC: I have a friend in Bali, an Indonesian, and he is about 4 years younger than me. He started this campaign to go to all of the schools in Indonesia and teach them about the ocean and plastic and how bad it is to be throwing trash in the rivers. When I lived in Bali, we used to do beach cleans every Sunday and we thought, ‘Beach cleans are trying to fix something that is too far gone, we have to fix it at the source’. So, he set up this whole thing to go around to all the schools, and I did a few with him, to explain to them why it is bad and hopefully they will go home and tell their parents. So, for me, he is the person I admire most. He is called Arti.

ConCon: How/why did you become interested in conservation?

LC: My main passion is surfing and so for me the ocean has given me everything that I love and care about, and it was a natural thing when I started to hear about plastic pollution and how bad it was getting, I had to give something back. I have this platform where I can really make a difference and maybe help my ocean and at least try and stop it from getting even worse. I had to help.

📸 Hannah Anderson

ConCon: Have you noticed differences since you began to surf?

LC: Yes. I lived in Bali for 2 years and I think that was the first time I had ever been face to face with it. I would paddle and literally have pieces of plastic in my hand. After that I came back to Europe and lived in Portugal for 2 years. Where I lived there was a nature reserve, so they really looked after their ocean, they really looked after their beaches and everyone was really conscious of it. It was crazy to see the two contrasts.

Then it was really interesting when I went to my parents house a few weekends ago and we all were walking along the beach and within 2 minutes of walking along the beach we filled up a black bag full of plastic. So, I put an advert on my Instagram to say let’s do a beach clean tomorrow if anyone is around. A few people came down. There were a couple of young girls who were about the same age I was when I moved from Bristol to Devon, which is where I learnt to surf, and they were picking up tiny pieces of plastics, and I said to my mum, “When I was this age and I was coming down, I don’t remember seeing this”. The plastic is now in everything – the girls were making sandcastles and it was all in there. It is crazy. It is visible now. So, for me that is the biggest one, my home beach, where I learnt to surf, where I spent so much time as a kid, even there it is so evident.

📸 Hannah Anderson

ConCon: You’ve been trying to cut down on plastic, what things have helped you to do this?

LC: Definitely having a keep cup for coffees. I drink a lot of coffee – need that! This eliminates at least 4 bits of plastic you don’t need a day. Using renewable water bottles is another one, it also means you drink more water than other drinks and cuts down on plastic. In terms of supermarkets – in the main big ones (e.g. Tesco’s, Sainsburys, Marks & Spencers), everything is covered in plastic that’s pointless, for example, fruit and vegetables, meat. If you are trying to cut down on plastic, shopping takes a little bit longer, you have to plan a bit more. You have to go to butchers to get your meat, and maybe take your own container to bring it home in. Or for fruit and veg you have to go to markets and get them there. I think you also end up helping local businesses and actually end up saving money. Imagine if you are just grabbing a work lunch at a supermarket, it is going to be covered in plastic, but if you prepare it at home and then take it in, there is no plastic and you end up saving money – but there is more organisation involved! You have to plan a bit more, for sure, it is hard.

Another thing is facewipes. This is something that when we were cleaning the beach back home, there were loads of them and they hardly break down at all (or just take ages). So, instead, I have used coconut oil for a while along with reusable pads (which are really cheap). Also, if you buy those make up wipes regularly, using one in the morning and one at night, they are expensive.

Tristan and I also use reusable bags. One day we were walking from the grocery store and we had forgotten our reusable bags, so we were walking down the street with all our groceries in our arms. These girls behind us said, “Have you heard of plastic bags?” and Tristan said back, “Yes I have but this saves the environment!”. Then later, they had followed us into a shop, and we heard them talking about it and thinking about it and asking us about our reusable bottles. It is just lack of education. Young people need to be incentivised and then they can make informed decisions as well.

ConCon: Can you recommend any tv shows or books that can help people learn about plastic and how to cut down?

LC: I watched the BBC’s Drowning in Plastic and that was also probably the first time I realised how much of an impact it has outside of just its presence in the ocean. For example, fish are dying because they were full of plastic [from eating it thinking it was food], and this can eventually pass on to us [though accumulation within the food chain] and we will find plastic in us – which is crazy. And it is all our fault. So, I think that documentary is incredible, it is simple to watch, you do not have to have any prior knowledge about it, and it is not super preachy (which sometimes scares people off) but it is really awesome.

ConCon: Beach cleans; do you do them through an organisation, what have you done and how can others get involved?

LC: They are amazing, really good. However, the plastic problem really needs to be combatted sooner on, before it gets to the beach. But as it is already there, beach cleans are great. Surfers Against Sewage do a lot of beach cleans, they are good. I am working with, which are one of the biggest charities doing ocean plastic conservation, so we are doing a few pretty big projects near the end of the year (WATCH OUT!). They are really nice, their focus is on ocean plastic alongside whales and dolphins.

📸 Tomas Kotouc

ConCon: What can we do as tourists to prevent plastic becoming a greater problem in developing countries?

LC: When you go on holiday, do the same as you do back home in trying to reduce plastic. So, if you use a keep cup at home, then there is no difference when you go away, use it abroad. Similarly, if you use a reusable bottle in London, take it away with you. If you do this, you can also inspire locals. When I was in Sri Lanka earlier this year, I made really good friends with one of the locals called Janika, he took me surfing everyday in the morning and he was asking me, “Why do you and your friend always have metal bottles?”. We explained it to him and we gave him one. He now uses it all the time and sends photos to our group chat. It is little things like this. He said, “My work is the ocean, because I always take people surfing, if the ocean gets ugly here with rubbish and plastic, no one is going to come surfing and I am going to lose my job.” It has a direct impact on the locals that rely on tourism for jobs. There is a part of me that doesn’t want to go back to Bali anymore because of how dirty it is, which is sad because that was my home for 2 and a half years.

ConCon: Vegetarian week; why did you do it?

LC: So, I have been posting a lot about being pro-anti-plastic on my Instagram for a while, and then I kept getting people saying “You’re such a hypocrite, the fact that you are doing anti-plastic but you are eating meat and fish”. So, I had to try it, as much for myself as for other people. When you have an audience like that you cannot be a hypocrite, because someone will come and tell you that you are doing it wrong, no matter if you are just trying to help. So, I wanted to try it because I’d never tried it before. I was pescatarian when I was in Bali, but the act of fishing contributes a lot to ocean plastic so if anything, fish was the main one I wanted to look to cut down on.

ConCon: …and how did you find it?

LC: I actually didn’t find it that hard. I found I had a lot more energy. I am not really into red meats, I can take it or leave it. So, I didn’t find that part hard at all. However, then I had a lot of emails from, for example wives of farmers, saying that I was wrong in what I was saying because I was saying that meat was bad for the environment. However, what I should have said was that meat sourced in the right way is good. It is the over production of meat that is the problem. It is about being more aware and making sure you know where your food is coming from. It is about being conscientious. For me personally, it is about helping the environment as much as you can.

ConCon: If you could change one thing, what would it be?

LC: I would make ALL schools give lessons on conservation and the environment. That should be within the curriculum because, with the new generations growing up, this is the only way you are going to solve these issues. We need to make sure that kids know, even if they don’t live near the ocean, that the plastic problem is going to impact them as well. I think this is the thing, many people do not think it is going to impact them because they hardly go to the beach. I think if you educate them about these issues then they will want to make changes.

ConCon: How do you think being on Love Island has helped you raise awareness of conservation issues?

LC: For me, the reason I went in there was to create a platform to be able to do good with. A lot of people coming out of these shows don’t, and I think it is crazy because you have around 600k people following you and many people just sit there and post about fashion brands. This is something I find hard. People ask why I didn’t do anything with fast fashion brands when I came out of Love Island, but for me that is against everything I believe in. The money would have been way better but it is against everything I believe in. I work with brands that I believe in and that I know are not ruining the planet even more.

📸 Hannah Anderson



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