Essena O’Neill is an incredible young lady. At only 17 years of age, she is already inspiring girls across the globe with her message of self love and free thinking. Essena is also an ocean lover, and was kind enough to share her thoughts about the topic with us.
What role does the beach play in your everyday routine?
To me, an ocean swim is like a mini cleanse. Living so close to the beach now is such a privilege, one that I don’t intend to waste! I usually go for my jogs and walks along the beach right before sunrise.. ah witnessing the sun on the ocean is possibly the most visually energetic way to start the day. During summer and sometimes during winter I like to rinse off into the ocean after a hot run. I adore studying on the beach, relaxing with friends and even mediating early in the morning. The calm chaos of waves just gives me this unexplainable sense of serenity. Haha I guess the beach does play an enormous part in my everyday routine!
What is your understanding of the ocean as an ecosystem crucial to our survival?
To be honest, I am no expert when it comes to understanding the links… however I have always thought that our existence is dependent upon all ecosystems that occur often –silently to many- around us. I guess I believe in a cycle, a huge beautifully clean mechanical cycle that ensures our future health. Once you throw in dirty oil, rubbish and debris.. that cycle can no longer support us. I remember studying the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ when I was in Primary School. The stats are seriously too big to ignore. That definitely made me more aware of how much rubbish I was throwing out on a weekly basis.
How important do you believe the significance of the beach and the ocean is to the Australian lifestyle?
Have you ever seen a tourism ad that doesn’t feature our pristine beaches?! BEACH LIFE is Australia! Especially for me in sunny Queensland. Unfortunately the majority of our population are not aware of what our future will look like if we continue to consume like we are now..
You live a very natural, sustainable lifestyle, what simple things can we all do everyday to reduce our environmental footprint?
Well thank you, I will admit, living a ‘sustainable’ lifestyle can be difficult in our modern world.. I for one know I can improve immensely. However some really easy ways to cut down on plastic is to shop locally and organically! I tend to just use huge cardboard crates for my food! I keep the crate in my car and reuse and reuse until it starts to fall apart. We waste so much plastic doing weekly shops.. to me, just using recycle bags and crates is SUPER easy. I also try and use steel/glass water bottles for school and reusable containers for lunch. Obviously no plastic would be ideal, but taking small steps can go a HUGE way!
Have you seen a change in the health and condition of our beaches and environment in your lifetime?
Living on the coast, we actually studied beach health over the years! I can say a huge YES to the dramatic change in health.. and unfortunately it’s a bad change. The biggest factor is that more people buy more things that pollute more rubbish. I think that’s the biggest factor.. during summer the tourism really takes its toll on our local beaches. It’s funny, during winter our beaches are usually clean.. but as soon as the caravans and fancy cars pull in we are flooded with litter. Definitely awareness is the key!
How important is it for young people to appreciate and look after our planet and our local environment?
It’s our future. Our environment translates into our quality of life. Unfortunately mass media does not promote these ideas as ‘cool’.. But the more and more we educate by simply living our truth, I believe the more people will wake up and see the damage that is only going to damage our lives later on. It’s funny isn’t it, with all the technology and degrees we all keep bragging about, our natural environment has never ever been worse.