When a community rallies around environmental causes, good things happen.

Case in point: UK’s Surfers Against Sewage campaigned for the government for a Deposit Return System to help save our oceans, which are choking on plastic.

In part because of the collective actions of SAS members, the European Union overwhelmingly approved a complete ban on single-use plastics such as drinking straws and disposable cutlery.

The legislation, which still must be approved by the European Council of government members, calls for direct bans on single-use plastic items such as “plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks or cotton buds” by 2021.

Allard PPC’s founder, Ross, saw the results of a community commitment to clean oceans during a recent trip to Europe and his home country of Great Britain.

Polluted waters here in Southwest Florida, caused by freshwater and saltwater algal blooms, have taken a toll on tourism. Meanwhile in the United Kingdom, SAS pushed for clean-water initiatives that have had a measurable impact.

When the environmental group was formed in 1990, only 27 percent of beaches in the UK would have passed current, stricter standards. Today, 98.5 percent of “bathing waters” or beaches are classified as excellent, good or sufficient, according the SAS’s recent Pipeline magazine. One group pushing for change can make a difference.

Overseas, there is no argument about climate change. It is recognized as a real threat, and governments and corporations are taking science-based steps to mitigate the impacts of this environmental crisis.

As the Guardian noted in February, an alarming heatwave in the sunless winter Arctic is causing blizzards in Europe and forcing scientists to reconsider even their most pessimistic forecasts of climate change. Meanwhile, Canada is building more ships, because warmer oceans could open up commercial traffic in northern waters.

The world is changing and we are all connected globally. If other countries can effect environment change, so can we.

Red tide and blue-green algae crises have fouled Florida waters this summer, causing many new and longtime residents to ask: “What can I do to help?”

As SAS noted in its recent Pipeline publication: “It’s hugely empowering to know you’re not alone and that you’re conquering the issue with the strength of your village, town or city by your side. Working as communities shows that we have the power to create real change and the idea that anyone can help has proved a great motivation for communities to form one big team.”

Kirstie Edwards, head of the SAS Plastic Free Communities, said: “Building relationships between local groups, councils and businesses can do nothing but good for any community.”

That’s a vital message, especially for residents of Florida who have seen the toll that polluted waters can take.

A recent Sarasota Herald-Tribune editorial lauded the formation of the Red Tide Institute at Mote Marine Laboratory funded by $1 million donation from the Andrew and Judith Economos Charitable Foundation, along with a $2.2 million grant from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Only a sustained effort to fight red tide will work, the newspaper said:

“The challenge for Mote, environmental organizations, business interests and the public is to leverage the outrage that emerged during the current outbreak to fuel continued research to pinpoint cost-effective strategies for minimizing red tide’s effects. …

“The winds of change in red-tide research have shifted for the good. Whether they become sustained will depend on how the public responds once the current red tide, like many others before it, disappears.” If WE don’t make the change, who on Earth will?

Community-based solutions embody the spirit of collaboration that Allard PPC champions.

So that’s our story. How are you telling your story? At Allard PPC, we specialize in Strategic Solutions for Business, Community and Planet. Contact us online or at 941-244-4866.

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