Sport Diver Conversation Spotlight: Take 3

By Melissa Smith

Mission: “To reduce global plastic pollution through education and participation.”

HQ: Bateau Bay, New South Wales, Australia

Year Started: 2009

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The strength of Take 3’s message is its simplicity: Take three pieces of trash with you any time you leave a beach or waterway.

The initiative has caught on, prompting people to haul garbage from shorelines worldwide.

“From a simple idea dreamt up in my living room by Amanda Marechal and myself 9 years ago, Take 3 is now a movement recognized in 129 countries and followed by over 170,000 individuals,” says Roberta Dixon-Valk, Take 3 Co-founder and Head of Programs. “Who would have thought?”

marine debris cleanup
A #Take3fortheSea from a Take 3 cleanup with Ocean Alliance

How did they decide on the number of items?

“We started with 10 and quickly whittled it back to 5, Dixon-Valk says. “Mandy tried to imagine her 11-year-old son taking five pieces of plastic rubbish plus a surfboard, and we both concluded Take 3 was a much more ‘doable’ number.”

In addition to their cleanup initiative, Take 3 runs a series of educational programs to engage children in conservation.

“Connecting with passionate, inspired young people who are prepared to be the change that moves this planet toward a sustainable future is the biggest reward,” Dixon-Valk says. “The solutions that students identify to solve our plastic pollution crisis are often more direct, achievable and creative than many adults who are asked to address the same problem. Youth are not fixed in their thinking, and once they understand the problem, learn very quickly to change their plastic habits.”

Their educational programs are mostly conducted in Australia, but as plastic pollution is a global problem that requires an engaged global solution, Dixon-Valk says, they are working to create easily accessible virtual programs with an emphasis on downloadable video resources that can be used worldwide.

marine debris cleanup take 3
Take 3 clean up Sydney Harbour with Ocean Alliance

Get involved

1. Take 3
“Anyone can Take 3, any day, anytime, anywhere,” Dixon-Valk says. And that includes underwater.

“Divers should be more inspired than most to participate in Take 3, as we directly witness the impacts of plastic in the marine environment. Not only does plastic look disgusting when it is floating around our oceans, breaking up into smaller and smaller pieces — it kills,” Dixon-Valk says. “Plastic now exists in all trophic levels of our ocean, from plankton to whales.”

Collecting trash to help clean your favourite dive sites can add value to your time underwater. And three pieces are easy enough to carry through your dive or stuff into your BC pockets or the waistband of your BC or weight belt.

Champion freediver Julia Wheeler is a Take 3 Ambassador.

“Julia is our link to the dive community and is a passionate advocate for our oceans and keeping them free of plastic,” Dixon-Valk says.

She’s helped the organization reach a dive-centric audience, setting an example for those who spend as much time underwater as they do on beaches and using her platform to spread Take 3’s message to millions of people through videos and social media.

2. Share Your Haul
Now that you’ve picked up your three (or more) pieces of trash, post about it. Even if you’re not typically one to share on social media, showing your efforts to friends and followers spreads the word of the initiative and helps the Take 3 team track how much debris is removed.

“By sharing what we find on social media, we get a sense of how we are collectively contributing to the global effort to reduce plastic pollution,” Dixon-Valk says. “Through the photos uploaded from our Take 3 community, researchers have estimated we are collectively (and conservatively) removing around 10 million plastic items from the environment every year.”

Depending on where you are in the world, it can also help Take 3 make a lasting impact on local communities.

“By photographically documenting what is being found and where, we can also work with communities to identify the sources of items commonly found and then identify ways of tackling the source, i.e. source reduction,” Dixon-Valk says.

3. Donate
By donating to Take 3, you’re both empowering young people through education and advocating for water stewardship worldwide.

“All donations to Take 3 are allocated to our programs and program development to help us achieve our mission to reduce plastic pollution and promote the waste-free circular economy,” Dixon-Valk says.

And it doesn’t have to be a large donation to make a difference, she says. A $3 donation is enough to educate one person through a Take 3 program.

“Take 3 connects people to the planet,” she says. “Our plastic pollution crisis requires everyone to be aware and care about our future, and to make active choices against single-use plastic to achieve change.”

Take 3 Ambassador Julia Wheeler freediving. Image Credit Julia Wheeler

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Feature image – Julia Wheeler