Chasing Coral... Catching community vibes

What can we do to save coral reefs?

We’ve seen the film and we know the gravity of the situation; now its time to act. It’s also super important to remember that you’re not alone. The SO Manly community, who watched the film with you, has reinvigorated their pledge to reduce their ecological footprint. Keep the conversation going with everyone and we’ll keep connecting you to the community so that your inspiration stays alive!

Outdoor screening of Chasing Coral as we say farewell to Manly Sea Life Sanctuary

Outdoor screening of Chasing Coral as we say farewell to Manly Sea Life Sanctuary

1.  Make Clean Energy Unstoppable

The great transformation is already underway- but we need to keep stoking the movement. Ask our local Mayor, State Premier and the Prime Minister what are they doing to support clean energy and clean jobs. Specifically, you can ask when will Northern Beaches Council join the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy.

Join the fight of our times to Stop Adani. Burning the coal from Galilee Basin would cancel out Australia's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, leading to more extreme weather events and future coral bleaching.

2. Support a Sydney Marine Park

A Sydney Marine Park will enable comprehensive management of the marine estate from Newcastle to Wollongong, including Sydney's corals. Sanctuary zones within marine parks lead to increased biodiversity and resilience to impacts such as climate change. Sign to support here or business here!

Sharnie Connell calls for a Sydney Marine Park to protect biodiversity including Sydney's coral

Sharnie Connell calls for a Sydney Marine Park to protect biodiversity including Sydney's coral

3. Commit to Individual Actions

You’ve made a pledge to reduce your footprint, but what more can you do once you’ve achieved that goal? Celebrate your success and move on to the next one! Here’s a list of actions that you can take. Pop some in the calendar for a few months time so that you remember to set a new goal, one at a time, just keep swimming.

  • Switch to LEDs and switch off when not in use
  • Set air conditioner to 18 in winter and 26 in summer
  • Install a solar hot water system
  • Look for the Energy Star rating for new appliances
  • Use cold water when washing clothes & dry them on the line
  • Consider solar panels and buy renewable energy credits
  • Save on fuel- get an electric car, use public transport, ride your bike or carpool
  • Reduce your flight travel- use video calls for meetings
  • Buy local, sustainable and organic produce
  • Eat less meat (or go vego!)
  • Say NO to wasteful packaging, plastic bags, bottled water, straws and coffee cups
  • Put food scraps in a worm farm, bokashi bucket or compost

This year, 1 Million Women will be launching an app to guide you through the lifestyle revolution. Its an ongoing journey, so we need to make a plan to transition to a zero-carbon lifestyle. Sign up to be notified when the app is launched and in the meantime read some awesome life-hacks to get you started.

4. Share the film with everyone you know

On Saturday, we said farewell to Manly Sea Life Sanctuary and created a fun event to engage our community. You can do the same with your local community, school or sport group. The team at Chasing Coral have wonderful resources to help you and the team at SO Manly can also guide you in the local area.

5. Support the Coral Crew

You can donate your time or money to organisations that are working to protect coral reefs for future generations. Every Saturday this summer, we’re running OPERATION STRAW, where you can go for a STRAWkle (that’s a snorkel to collect straws) at Manly Cove. A recent report showed that plastic trash is making coral reefs sick, so it’s never been a more important time to rethink our plastic use. Also, check out these local and global groups to find out how you can get involved: Manly Food Co-op, Boomerang Bags, Coral Reef Alliance, Surfrider Foundation, Reef Environmental Education Foundation, Reef Check, 50 Reefs, Project AWARE, Sea Shepherd and

6. Check your sunscreen

Make sure your sunscreen does NOT contain oxybenzone or nano particles. These chemicals have been shown to damage coral reefs. The best choices are those that contain (non-nano) zinc. Cover up where you can to avoid being sunburnt and minimize your use of sunscreens altogether. Lets be like Hawaii and start our own petition to call for a ban on harmful sunscreens.

Don’t forget, if you have any further questions for our scientist panel, Associate Professor David Suggett and PhD Candidate Sam Goyen will be presenting a talk at Manly library this Wednesday. RSVP here!

THANK YOU to all the wonderful supporters of our Chasing Coral Screening. We couldn’t have made this event work without you!

Manly Food Co-op, Ruby Lane, Surfrider Foundation, 4 Pines, Aloha Manly Style, The Source Bulkfoods Balgowlah, Portia Briana Music, Miska, Manly Sea Life Sanctuary, Sea Life Trust, Northern Beaches Council, University of Technology Sydney

Written by Alicia Lloyd, Project Manager of SO Manly.

Photos by Harriet Spark, Co-founder of SO Manly.

How You Can Help Ensure We Don’t Have A Plastic Ocean

Every piece of plastic created still exists somewhere.

It’s a scary thought and one that reminds us of how important it is to choose reusable over disposable.  It just doesn’t make sense that we use items just once that will last on the planet forever.

Every time we say no to a straw, bring our own bag or take our Keep Cup to the coffee shop we are avoiding using an item that will be on around longer than our children and our children’s children.  And that’s powerful.

Outdoor Movie Screening of A Plastic Ocean at Manly Cove

Outdoor Movie Screening of A Plastic Ocean at Manly Cove

Last Saturday, the Northern Beaches community gathered to clean Manly Cove, learn more about the marine animals that call our ocean home and watch the documentary, ‘A Plastic Ocean’ on an outdoor screen as the sunset. Hosted by SO Manly and the Northern Beaches Council, it was a celebration of our oceans and what we can do to help.

A beach clean of Manly Cove kicked off the evening. Volunteers collected more than 750 cigarette butts, 60 straws, 20 plastic bags and 36 plastic drink bottles and even a broken guitar.

Plastic bags are often mistaken for jellyfish by sea turtles

Plastic bags are often mistaken for jellyfish by sea turtles

More than fifty percent of plastic created is used just once and then tossed away. Eight million tons of different plastics make their way to the ocean on an annual basis. By 2050, every seabird on the planet will have ingested plastic and there’s predicted to be more plastic than fish in the sea.

Statistics like these are pretty overwhelming, and while the movie ‘A Plastic Ocean’ might have left you feeling inspired to act, the problem of plastic pollution is so immense that it can be hard to know where to begin. 

But, fortunately, there are plenty of reusable alternatives to disposable plastic items. Most of these are available online or at the Manly Food Co-op. Imagine the collective impact we could have if we all said a big, resounding NO to single-use plastic and made the following choices instead.

Reducing plastic in the kitchen

At the event on Saturday night, we were lucky enough to have wholesome treats provided by Burbury Wholefoods, whose ethos for sustainable food without plastic packaging is the foundations of their business.

Tash Burbury, founder of Burbury Wholefoods has a passion for sustainable food and likes to experiment with natives like wattle seed in her recipes, which are far better suited to our climate. Burbury Wholefoods offers catering services so they’re a great option for your next event.

BYO Jar when you shop to reduce plastic packaging

BYO Jar when you shop to reduce plastic packaging

When it comes to your own kitchen, you can avoid plastic food by shopping at a bulk food store. In Manly, we’re lucky enough to have a community run food co-op. Avoid plastic packaging on food by supporting this wonderful initiative. You can upcycle your glass jars and fill them with dry goods like pasta and rice.

If you’ve ever seen a single sweet potato wrapped in cling film on a plastic try, you’d know the frustration that comes with shopping for plastic-free produce at the supermarket. Every Sunday, Manly holds farmers markets where you can buy delicious fruit and veg without the extra packaging. Farmers markets are run everywhere, so check out your local area to see if there’s one nearby.

By choosing to shop at Farmers markets, you’re not only reducing your plastic footprint but also supporting local organic farmers who care about their practices. 

Reducing plastic in the bathroom

Navigating plastic in our bathrooms is a tricky business- the majority of cosmetics and body products come swamped in plastic packaging. But the more this plastic-free movement grows, the more options that become available.

Did you know that 80% of a bottle of conditioner or shampoo is water? Ethique is a company that produces concentrated solid body bars, like deodorant, shampoo, and moisturizer. These bars last for a lot longer than your average bottle of shampoo, and best part – they come in biodegradable packaging.

If you got a spare hour or two up your sleeve, you can try making your own beauty products. Most tutorials use ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen cupboard. Check out 1 Million Women for some delicious recipes.

Reducing plastic out and about

Tackling plastic pollution is all about creating new habits. If you can keep your new habit up for a month, you’re on a roll and it will only get easier and easier!

Set yourself some ground rules, to begin with. Perhaps committing to only buying yourself a coffee if you have a reusable mug. Going one morning without caffeine because you forgot to pack your KeepCup will be enough of a reminder to pop your cup in your bag the next day!

It’s fantastic to see big retailers moving away from plastic bags, but it’s important to remember that these will be replaced with an alternative that will have some impact on our environment, which is why the best option is to BYO Bag. There are awesome tutorials online about how to line your bin with newspaper if you’re worried about what to do now supermarkets aren’t offering plastic bags.

452 straws were collected at Manly Cove on 19 November 2017

452 straws were collected at Manly Cove on 19 November 2017

Last week Dive Centre Manly and SO Manly ran a clean up of Manly Cove. Volunteers collected more than 450 straws in a single area. 4 of these straws were being held hostage by an octopus.  This isn’t a unique story – hundreds of straws are found in Manly Cove on a regular basis.

Cue, Operation Straw. Operation Straw is a collaboration between Dive Center Manly, SO Manly and Grumpy Turtle Design that will foster a sense of stewardship over Manly Cove - a beloved dive site- while simultaneously collecting information on one of the most harmful plastic items; straws. You can find out more and get involved here.

Join a community group


Changed your own actions but are still hungry for more plastic-free goodness?

Along the Northern Beaches, there are so many dedicated groups and organisations targeting plastic pollution. A few are listed below if you’re interested in donating some time to a great cause.

Northern Beaches Clean Up Crew

Convenient For Who

Plastic Free Manly

The Green Team

Boomerang Bags

Surfrider Foundation Manly

Plastic pollution is a huge issue. It’s overwhelming. It’s scary. But it’s a man-made problem, with a man made solution – we are that solution. As cheesy as it sounds, we are the change our oceans need to see.

The outdoor screening of A Plastic Ocean was organised by Northern Beaches Council with the help of many community-minded folk. We'd just like to show our gratitude for the support of everyone involved including SEA LIFE Trust, Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary, KALOF, Plastic Free Manly, Burbury Wholefoods, Berkelo Bakery, The Butcher & Chef, Suzy Spoon Vegetarian Butcher. Let's do it all again soon!

Written by Harriet Spark, Co-founder of SO Manly |  Follow Harriet on Instagram


Thanks to everyone that came along to the film screening of Straws last Sunday at 4 Pines Truck Bar in Brookvale. If you couldn’t make it on the night here is a little recap and some actions that you can do to keep our sea plastic straw free!


Straws is a wonderful documentary that covers all you need to know about the history of straws, the impact of plastic straws in the oceans, the cost of plastic straws in the hospitality waste-stream and the benefits of going plastic-free. There were some wonderful interviews, including The Last Plastic Straw founder, Jackie Nunez and the turtle researchers that pulled a straw out of a turtle’s nostril, Nathan Robinson and Christine Figgener. But the highlight for me was the inspiration school student Max Muchum who started the #nostrawchallenge (#sinpajillaporfavor) in Costa Rica. His call to action was just so simple- he can’t do this alone. In the movie, as he is making bamboo straws for local restaurants, he realizes that he can’t possibly talk to every venue in Costa Rica. Just like I can’t reach every restaurant, bar and café on the Northern Beaches. That’s where we need your help!


We were inspired by Kiera Murphy, the sustainability lover at 4 Pines Brewery. She leads the way in using business as a force for good and shared the story of straws at 4 Pines. Although they are well known for their beers, they do have cocktails and sodas and these are all straw-free. There are paper straws on standby for those with medical reasons that absolutely need a straw but otherwise most drinks can be drunk without a straw. 4 Pines is also going to be partnering with community groups to help support clean-ups on the Northern Beaches so we are looking forward to using any supplies they can donate for our next beach clean!

We also heard from Farley MacDonald, founder of Convenient for Who and the straws petition on to Northern Beaches Council. She was selling Sprocket & Steel straws for another inspirational teenager, Kiara who started her own business after watching the documentary “Garbage Island”.

We were also lucky to hear from Harriet Spark, aka The Grumpy Turtle, about her love for the ocean and how she faces the overwhelming plastic problem every day. As a local beach cleaner who knows that straws are entering the water at an alarming rate every day, she proposed that we all “be the change” and keep going, because awareness is growing.


There are more than 1000 signatures on the petition and we added another 63 on the night. If you haven’t already signed the petition, please add your name here!


Metal, bamboo or paper!

Here are some places to get your hands on these alternatives: Sprocket & Steel, Greenpack.

This list is clearly not exhaustive and we’d like to set up a supplier list for all plastic alternatives, so if you want to be on the list, drop me a line.


Anyone can help our campaign! Next time you’re at your local café, bar or restaurant, ask for “No plastic straw please” and start the conversation. If you know a place that would like to raise awareness about straws and start the transition away from straws, we have “No Straw Thanks” posters that they can use. It can be downloaded from Plastic Free Manly soon or drop me a line to have this customized for your town. We also have “Proudly Plastic Straw Free” posters if it’s a venue that has already made the change.


We are lucky to receive funding from the legends at Sea Life Trust and Manly Sea Life Sanctuary, who also kindly donated a family pass to the aquarium for our raffle. Taronga Conservation Society also donated tickets for our raffle. We had some cool 4 Pines Brewery Tour and caps donated for the raffle. And a rad waterproof Patagonia bag that everyone was frothing over! Thanks so much to these supporters that helped raise money for our campaign through the raffle. These funds will go towards the screening rights for the movie and our plastic pollution campaigns.

We look forward to seeing you at the next event- a beach clean, aquarium tour and outdoor movie screening of A Plastic Ocean!

Written by Alicia Lloyd, Project Manager of SO Manly

International Coastal Cleanup

Thanks to all of the legends who joined us and Dive Centre Manly yesterday for International Coastal Clean Up day! We had a massive turn out and positive to see not as much plastic collected as usual. Could be also due to our pals at Surfrider Foundation Manly for their amazing clean up efforts throughout the week.

A big shout out and thanks to Convenient for who? for petitioning to reduce straws along the Northern Beaches Straw Petition (if you have not signed please jump on to the page now); Sprocket & Steel for their stainless steel straws and Czech NetBag for the oh so loved flexible cotton stringy reusable bags!

A huge thanks to Infinity Bakery for donating all of the fresh bread rolls; and Nonna's Gourmet Sausages & Deli and Suzy Spoon's Vegetarian Butcher for providing us with the delicious sausages.

It is wonderful working with organisations and individuals throughout the community towards reducing plastic waste. Anyone can make a positive impact!

Thanks to our supporters and collaborators: Plastic Free Manly SEA LIFE Trust ANZ Manly Sea Life Sanctuary

Tank the Turtle

What an enthusiastic and wonderful bunch of little Eco Warriors!! Thanks Brookvale Childrens Centre for having Tank and the team come to visit and talk about ways we can help reduce plastic.

If you would like Tank the Turtle to come and visit your school or pre-school please get in contact at with us at SO Manly or Plastic Free Manly.