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Surfers Against Sewage

Surfers Against Sewage is a national marine conservation and campaigning charity that inspires, unites and empowers communities to take action to protect oceans, beaches, waves and wildlife.


Registered charity no. 1145877

Member since August 2019

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A Message from Hugo Tagholm, CEO of Surfers Against Sewage

A Message from Hugo Tagholm, CEO of Surfers Against Sewage

Surfers Against Sewage is proud to deliver campaigns that bring people together, empowering communities to create positive change for our ocean. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for being part of our movement of ocean activists, protecting our ocean and beaches for everyone to enjoy. Our shared experiences of the coastline are what bring us together. Our beaches are where we create experiences, draw inspiration and unite. They are also places we can seek solace, comfort and sea air during this time of global crisis.

The global pandemic means that we need to change the way we work for the time being. Rather than coming together, we need to work together in new ways, at distance. Social distancing doesn’t mean that we can’t stay connected. Our digital connections and actions will be more important than ever, to support each other, to share concerns, and to drive our campaigns forward for a safer and healthier Planet Ocean. We need each other more than ever before.

Our live activities are on hold at the moment to help keep you safe. Beach cleans, campaign actions, social meet-ups are on hold until further notice. We must all follow the advice of scientists to stay apart wherever we can. Your safety and well being is our priority. We also need to be conscious and support the most vulnerable in society at these challenging times.

We are taking the time to innovate and evolve our community campaigns and projects – finding new and improved ways to empower communities and drive change when we come through the crisis. In the meantime, below are a few actions that you can take with us from the comfort of your home or at a quiet beach.

We will come through this together and we look forward to seeing you back at the beach for an Autumn of Ocean Activism.

Remember to stay safe out there and look after each other.

Thank you for all your support.


His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales becomes Patron of Surfers Against Sewage as the Charity Celebrates its 30th Anniversary

His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales becomes Patron of Surfers Against Sewage as the Charity Celebrates its 30th Anniversary

National marine conservation and campaigning charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) is thrilled to announce His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, as its Patron. His Royal Highness holds the title of Duke of Cornwall and has very strong links with the county, where the charity was founded and still operates from today. This year the charity also celebrates its 30th anniversary and the Patronage is incredible recognition of the progress and achievements the organisation has made over the last three decades to protect our ocean.

His Royal Highness, The Duke of Cornwall attended Surfers Against Sewage’s special 30th anniversary event in Cornwall on Friday 6th March, held at the Skol Nansledan, Newquay where his patronage was officially announced. As part of the event, the His Royal Highness signed a unique surfboard, created from wood from his Highgrove Estate, to commemorate the anniversary.

The charity was founded in May 1990 in response to chronic and widespread sewage pollution of the UK coastline. At that time, only a quarter of UK beaches would have passed the minimum bathing water standards we now have in place. Today over 98% of UK beaches meet these standards, which is an amazing success story for our ocean, beaches and everyone that enjoys the country’s beautiful coastline for surfing, swimming, sailing and recreation in our great maritime nation. The charity’s work represents a powerful example of positive environmental activism leading to dramatic and tangible conservation success, and provides a powerful story of hope for some of the biggest issues our ocean faces today, from plastic pollution to climate change.

Surfers Against Sewage first worked with His Royal Highness in 2015, when it organised the Ocean Plastic Awareness Day in Newquay, Cornwall. The charity was delighted to welcome The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall to Fistral Beach during their annual summer visit to Cornwall to demonstrate how community action in the county was bringing together many thousands of people to help combat the menace of marine plastic pollution. The Ocean Plastics Awareness Day gave NGOs, local and national government and industry an opportunity to commit to exploring and delivering pilot schemes to prevent the flow of plastics to local beaches and recycle plastic waste removed by local beach cleans. The event also saw the launch of a Statement of Intent signed by participating NGOs, local government, academia and businesses to explore, develop and deliver plastic reduction and circular economy initiatives including deposit return schemes; refill initiatives and the recycling of marine plastics. These projects and behaviour change campaigns have grown dramatically since the event and have become firmly embedded in society’s expectations and behaviour.

His Royal Highness has been a longstanding advocate of Deposit Return Schemes as a way of reducing plastic bottle pollution, and the charity successfully spearheaded the call for the system to be introduced in the UK, which will start to come into force from 2021, in Scotland.

The team was honoured when Their Royal Highnesses visited their headquarters in the summer of 2018, for a follow up event promoting the solutions to plastic pollution, which highlighted just how much progress is being made across society by individuals, communities and businesses.

Hugo Tagholm, Chief Executive says: “We have been thrilled to work closely with His Royal Highness over the last few years, to highlight the plight of our ocean and to promote positive, sustainable solutions for a bluer future, where the ocean truly thrives again. I would like to welcome His Royal Highness as our first Patron in such an auspicious year for us where we celebrate 30 years of positive and hopeful activism that is delivering real change to protect our beaches, coastline and ocean for everyone.

As we start the new UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, Surfers Against Sewage is more committed than ever before to deliver a thriving ocean with our community of ocean activists right around the UK. We believe in a journey of radical hope for our seas, and to have the support of His Royal Highness will help us take our mission and impact to new levels in the coming years.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to His Royal Highness, not just for jumping on board with Surfers Against Sewage, but also for his longstanding and pioneering work on the environmental agenda, which is truly causing waves of change around the globe. His support for the charity since 2015 has helped us deliver so much more impact, and his Patronage will certainly help us deliver even more for Planet Ocean in the years to come.”

Surfers Against Sewage is proud to work with over 100,000 community volunteers around the UK, protecting our beaches for the future. The charity founded the Plastic Free Community movement, now active in 650 locations nationwide, and the Plastic Free Schools initiative which will reach 1.3 million school children in 2020. The charity will be rolling out an ambitious programme of marine conservation in 2020, and setting out a vision for the decade ahead, tackling issues including plastic pollution, climate change, habitat loss and water pollution.




Our Plastic Free Communities hold Mass Unwraps as part of their five-step plan to start freeing where they live from single-use … so we thought we’d share some of their top moments to inspire this year’s National Week of Action. Details on how to organize your own Mass Unwrap are at the end of this article. First up …


The team at Plastic Free Nantwich can’t get enough of Mass Unwraps and are among a band of communities including Totnes, Wandsworth and Lincoln who hold regular events. These are great ways for our Plastic Free Communities to raise awareness and get everyone involved in their local campaigns. Now it’s time for some coordinated national action – where we will also collect shoppers’ top pointless plastic pet hates to call for #LessPlasticPlease! Everyone who signs up to Mass Unwrap 2020 will get a Citizen Science Kit to help them record what they collect and customers’ demands over pointless packaging.


Plastic Free Uffculme did a great job of making sure everyone shopping at their local Co-Op knew exactly why they were there, on the day of their Mass Unwrap. They teamed up with the Amateur Dramatic Society ensemble, which performed a song called ‘DO IT NOW!’ Weeks later the community was awarded Plastic Free Communities Approved status for their great work on raising awareness and kick starting work in the community to reduce single-use plastic.


Another community making sure they get seen is Plastic Free Newquay. The team dressed up for their Mass Unwrap at Morrisons in the town, declaring ‘Single-Use is Bananas’. Plastic Free Newquay were instrumental in drawing up the SAS Mass Unwrap Toolkit, having piloted the Mass Unwrap in Cornwall on Earth Day 2018. Seven locations took part, paving the way for a new movement.