Dr. Frieja Mendrik - Plastic Free July

In light of Plastic Free July, we would like to introduce an ambassador of ours, Dr Freija Mendrik. Working closely in marine conservation, Freija shares her views on plastic and what we can do to make a positive impact.
Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people be a part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities. With this at the forefront of our minds, we continue to spread awareness for our Know Your Locals Campaign by turning ugly harmful plastic into beautiful things that can be recycled again and again. 50% of all sales from this collection will be donated directly to Surfers Against Sewage, to support all the amazing work that they do for the planet and people.
Introducing Dr. Freija Mendrik...
Q1: Can you tell us a little bit about you and the work you do?
Hello! I’m Dr. Freija Mendrik, I’m a marine biologist and National Geographic explorer based in the UK. My research is all about microplastic pollution - so really tiny pieces of plastic- and trying to help us understand where it’s ending up and the full impacts it’s having. My current project is all about how microplastic pollution is impacting coral reefs in Vietnam.
Q2: Tell us about your experience as an ocean advocate.
I’m really passionate about marine conservation and I believe that science is for everyone! I express my research and advocacy through art, social media, and film. The ocean is so important for everyone, but we often forget this in our busy lives. Many people have lost, or never had, a connection with the ocean. I try to share ocean research and news in as many different ways as possible in the hope that it will get more and more people excited and interested in the ocean and therefore will want to help protect it! I really love doing it and have met so many brilliant people working to make a difference. Some of my favourite experiences of outreach are doing beach cleans with families. The kids are so switched on to environmental issues and have so many great questions and want to help make a difference! I also lead expeditions with Sail Britain, an organisation working to promote ocean literacy through exploration and education.
Q3. How can we all work together to make a positive impact?
It can feel really overwhelming when trying to make a difference with these big environmental issues like plastic pollution and climate change. I always suggest that people start small: what small swaps can you make in your everyday lives? From getting a reusable coffee cup to eating less meat. It might not seem like it will make a difference but it all adds up. And this is just a start, join local organisations like a beach cleaning group or help start one! Support each other as much as possible. Remember we don’t need perfection! Everyone is from different backgrounds and circumstances and will be able to do different things for the environment but it all counts! It’s not a competition.
Q4. What message do you hope to send to consumers through your work as an ambassador for the "Know Your Locals" collection?
I really love this campaign and what it stands for. “Know your locals” implies companionship and reconnecting with our local habitats. We need this more than ever - we are a part of nature after all! I hope to share this message as much as possible and help educate people about our local wildlife because it is more important than ever.
Q5: What do you think sets the "Know Your Locals" collection apart from other sustainable products?
First, turning waste (and potentially very harmful waste) into something beautiful that should last a lifetime is brilliant. I really love that it is plastic collected from the UK and that the beads are also made in the UK by Brothers Make. Also, that this is in collaboration with Surfers Against Sewage is great. It’s not just about using recycled materials from across the world. The campaign is supporting local initiatives and working with local communities with the profits going into helping protect ocean spaces here in the UK which is really special.
Q6: Is there any final message you’d like to share?
It can be really hard to remain positive with all the doom and gloom, but I remain stubbornly optimistic that we can have a thriving ocean again. There are so many brilliant people, organisations, and campaigns like this one that is working tirelessly to make sure it happens!
If you would like to share your support with our Know Your Locals Campaign, shop here.