While shooting Discover Channel’s #1 show Naked and Afraid in the Maldives, I was shocked by the overwhelming amount of plastic trash covering the uninhabited, picturesque island. This was only one island. I couldn’t bear to imagine what the other 1,200 islands looked like, covered in trash. To leave the island we actually made a raft out of bottles. As we paddled to our rescue boat, I swore I would come back and do something about the plastic pollution.
Alison Teal, a female version of “Indiana Jones,” journeys into ancient cultures with her camera and pink eco surfboard to share global secrets of survival, sustainability, health and happiness through her comedic and inspirational film and blog series: Alison’s Adventures.
With Alison’s fearless passion for life, and comedic timing, she dives into communities living off the beaten path to unearth customs and curious traditions, investigate ancient myths and legends, and entertain audiences through storytelling that captures the mystery and intrigue of the cultures Alison grew up in.
Alison’s goal with Alison’s Adventures is to inspire and educate the kid in everyone through humorous entertainment that leads to action!
After returning from “everest of survival challenges” living with NOTHING for 21 days, I devoured a chocolate bar, took a much needed shower and my first thought was: How can I help transform plastic waste around the world into usable items? The scariest thought was that only a portion of the plastic trash was coming from the inhabited islands, it was also coming to the island chain from other countries brought by the ocean currents.
Over a year later I returned to the Maldives, hosted by Shaahina Ali and accompanied by photographers / videographers Sarah Lee and Mark Tipple. Together we set off on a wild adventure back to “my island” wearing all clothing made from recycled plastic bottles from a company called Repreve that transforms plastic into usable thread for world renowned brands like Patagonia, Odina, Teeki, Volcom, and Roxy – and of course my surfboards are Sustainable Surf-approved Eco Boards made from recycled styrofoam and sunglasses from Zeal Optics.
An international icon of natural beauty, my experience in the Maldives presents an opportunity to tell a crucial story about plastic waste and recycling that fits into my “Surf Survive Sustain” mission, of living a non-invasive existence as environmentally responsible as possible.
While there, I collected trash in an to effort save the highly threatened biosphere and then retuned to my Naked and Afraid island to do a beach clean up with a team of amazing volunteers. In only half an hour covering about 50 feet of beach, we gathered all the bottles in the photo below. The villagers took great pride in making sure I was no longer “naked” but “clothed” in plastic fashion.
All trash collected in the Maldives is taken to “Trash Island”, or Thilafushi, an island landfill made entirely of waste that stands as a sort of eerie, beautiful apocalyptic art piece.Instead of looking at this wasteland as horrific, I see it as an opportunity to make a lot of pink bikinis!
I would love to see plastic disappear from this world all together – particularly single use plastic such as bottles, straws, and plastic bags, but in the meantime, I would rather see it in bikinis, jackets, and eyewear than strewn across the beautiful beaches of the Maldives, and other beaches around the world – with bottles that have drifted all the way from US!