Inspirefest snapshot: The waverider working to clean up the ocean

25 May 2018

Dr Easkey Britton. Image: Jelle Mul

Inspirefest 2018 speaker Dr Easkey Britton is a waveriding scientist determined to make us aware of the damage that plastic is doing to our oceans.

If you haven’t noticed, there has been a sea change – quite literally – in the world’s attitude towards the plastic waste we produce and the possibly irreparable damage brought to the world’s oceans.

Even in just the past few months, we have been inundated with examples of mass pollution caused by plastic waste, most notably the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, believed to be larger than the state of Texas and containing 1.8trn pieces of non-biodegradable plastic, much of which is microplastics.

Future Human

While it will take a concerted effort from the whole world to clean up our act, Inspirefest 2018 speaker Dr Easkey Britton is one of those working to raise awareness of this reality. Britton is a scientist and artist who has spent almost her entire life by the ocean, due in large part to her passion for surfing.

Not only is she a five-time Irish national surf champion with a PhD in marine environment and society, but she also has time to promote a healthy relationship between people and the sea in an effort to spark social change, as seen in the example of our need to drastically curb our plastic use.

Perhaps one of her most notable works was featuring in the incredible 2013 documentary Into the Sea, which followed Britton as she introduced the sport of surfing to women and local communities in Iran.

Importance of wellbeing

On the science side of things, she is part of the Nature and Environment to Attain and Restore (NEAR) Health project being undertaken at NUI Galway, aiming to connect people with blue and green nature spaces.

More generally, the NEAR Health project is to design and pilot inclusive nature-based solutions to assist communities in valuing a healthy environment, maintaining healthy lifestyles, and promoting and restoring wellbeing.

In today’s modern age, the topic of wellness is certainly one to not take lightly, with Britton set to highlight to Inspirefest attendees how surfing helps her get through the tough times.

Speaking in April, she said: “It’s been essential in how I balance work and play in my life.

“The reason I’ve been able to do what I’ve done career-wise and with academia; I couldn’t have done it without surfing to go to.”

For inspiration from extraordinary thinkers, catch Dr Easkey Britton and more at Inspirefest in Dublin on 21 and 22 June. Get your tickets now.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic