Redefining Plastic Activism With A Passion for Change
Working across the likes of Djibouti, South Africa, Cuba and the Bahamas, few organizations in Greece are likely to be able to make the claim to genuine global reach in the way that All For Blue can.
Founded by Katerina Topouzoglou in 2017, All For Blue is taking on the plastic pollution crisis by motivating the communities of the Aegean Islands to make a positive difference for the environment. Though All For Blue is a young organization, they have proven themselves to be key, proactive partners in the fight against oceanic pollution. Topouzoglou, and her team of enthusiastic volunteers, have remarkably conducted 300 coastal and underwater cleanup events, aspiring to restore the purity of the waters around Greece, and around the world.
All for Blue are among the newest European partners to join the BlueCommunities initiative, a growing body of over 40 environmental organizations that are using the collective power of local action, in over 35 locations, to create change worldwide. With values which align so closely to the global aims of the Plastic Oceans family, it is clear that their participation continues to strengthen the initiative and all of its members. Click HERE to view the BlueCommunities page for the Aegean Sea.
At the crux of All for Blue’s mission is the education of young people, which Andrea Torres Saa, Regional Director for Europe, says is at the heart of what makes them special: “We can make all the change we want,” she argues, “but unless we take future generations with us on this journey, we will end up finding ourselves right at the beginning again in a generation. We can’t afford that; the world can’t afford that.”
All for Blue’s approach with youth operates along two paths. The first is straightforward: more than anything, Topouzoglou wants children to be aware of the impact that their actions have on the health of the global oceans.
“Children are the future,” she says, “and they have to be conscious of their critical role in keeping our seas and oceans healthy and in balance.”
The second revolves around championing one of the most maligned predators in the natural world, the shark – and ensuring that people are aware of the importance of these most amazing of creatures to the marine ecosystem.
“We want to change people’s opinions on sharks,” says Topouzoglou, “and educate them about their critical role in keeping our seas and oceans healthy and in balance.”
All for Blue’s Shark Aware Seminars aim to halt persecution of the animal spurred by negative media portrayals – as a worst possible example think of a full six Sharknado films fuelling dubious perceptions of the marine apex predators.
Topouzoglou, in fact, is a trained shark handler, so she knows that as keystone predators, sharks are essential to the marine ecosystem. Without the presence of sharks, not only does the structure of the ecosystem deteriorate, but the grazing rate of herbivorous marine fauna makes it impossible for sea grasses and similar underwater plants to recover.
The work of All for Blue is certainly paying off. In a number of locations, small groups have sprung up after their cleanups and engagement activities. Both at home in Greece and in various locations internationally, there are currently 23 active groups, all of whom All For Blue collaborate with to support their community missions, and to encourage the creation of further clusters of people working to reduce marine deterioration.
Ultimately, at the heart of All For Blue’s work is a philosophy shared by BlueCommunities the world over; that a positive attitude is absolutely fundamental to generating meaningful change. As Topouzoglou puts it, “through education, collaboration, and dedication, we can help spread awareness; motivating and empowering communities everywhere to act for the environment and make a difference.”
All too often when striving for change, we wait for someone else to take the reins and chart a path. With the likes of the driven Topouzoglou, we have no excuses. She’s here, she’s working, and she’s showing us what is possible.
The BlueCommunities family just became much, much stronger.
Shannon Collins is lead environmental writer at Ninth Wave Global and covers the environment and southern Mexico for Mexico News Daily. She also writes feature pieces for a variety of international media platforms.