This month, we’re supporting our colleague, Jo Majithia, take on the Dip a Day challenge for Surfers Against Sewage, in which she’ll be plunging herself in freezing cold water every day this October.
Created by Surfers Against Sewage, the Dip a Day challenge is to dip in cold water every day throughout October, whether it’s a shower, paddling pool, lido, local beach or river, in order to raise funds to support their ocean-saving projects.
We interviewed Jo, learn raise awareness of her fundraiser, and learn more about why she got involved.
What is the Dip a Day challenge?
The Dip a Day challenge is to dip in cold water every day throughout October, this can be a cold shower, paddling pool, lido, river or the sea. It is to raise awareness and much-needed funds to support Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), a marine conservation charity working with communities to protect oceans, waves, beaches and marine life
What prompted you to get involved in the Dip a Day challenge? Why did you feel personally compelled to get involved in this cause?
The health of our seas and oceans and the restoration of marine ecosystems are fundamental to the health and well-being of society.
I live in Brighton and see first-hand how much people enjoy the beaches and sea. I swim throughout the year and personally gain a huge amount of joy from the freedom of being in the water, the beautiful sea and sky and the health benefits of cold water swimming. However, there are all too frequent sewage alerts along the south coast and the amount of litter and plastic waste left on the beach is shocking.
Of course, water pollution, sewage and plastic seems dirty and dangerous, but do you know of any specific problems they bring?
In 2019, 11 out of the 15 official indicators of ocean health failed, with ocean biodiversity declining every year due to poor water quality from sewage, agricultural and plastic pollution.
This has led to dramatic ocean warming, acidification and deoxygenation which impacts ecosystems and communities worldwide.
People frequently fall ill from swimming in polluted rivers and seas and, as a nutritionist, I know this can lead to long-term health issues even once the infection has passed.
Plastic and packaging pollution have been found all across the world. Birds, whales and turtles are killed when they mistake pollutants for food or when they get tangled in packaging. Pollution can also carry toxic chemicals, pathogens and invasive species across the ocean and into isolated and pristine marine habitats, harming wildlife.
Microplastics and microfibres from pollutants get broken up by the waves and enter the ocean food chain, causing unknown impact on wildlife and human health.
What are the causes of these problems?
Governments, water companies and corporations that created branded single-use plastic are the biggest culprits, but we all play a part.
What needs or can to be done to solve this problem? And is it achievable?
There are a few key ways we can reduce ocean pollution:
Water Quality: sewage and agricultural pollution still plague the rivers and ocean. SAS are calling for an end to sewage pollution to guarantee safe seas, all year round. Their ambition is to end sewage discharges into UK bathing waters by 2030.
Ocean & Climate: to reverse the ocean and climate crisis, an urgent and drastic reduction in carbon dioxide emissions as well as the rapid embracing of nature-based solutions to limit carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere is required. SAS’ ambition is for the UK to be net-zero by 2030.
Ocean Recovery: The UK’s seas host some of the most biodiverse life in the world. But increasing pressure from human activities has dramatically decreased marine biodiversity. SAS want 30% of the ocean and all UK Marine Protected Areas to be highly protected by 2030.
Plastic Pollution: ro solve the plastic pollution crisis, we must reduce the production and consumption of non-essential single-use, throwaway and polluting plastic. If we build a circular economy that ensures plastics are designed to be reused and repaired that will also help. SAS want to end single-use plastic pollution on UK beaches by 2030.
What is your fundraising target? And how can anyone who wishes to make a donation?
The target was set at £150 and I’ve reached that now but I would love to raise as much as possible. If you would like to donate, visit my facebook fundraising page!
Which organisation will the money go to - how will the raised money be spent?
Money will go to Surfers Against Sewage, the national marine conservation and campaigning charity, in their fight to protect oceans, beaches, waves and wildlife, not just from sewage but marine plastic pollution and for wider issues like coastal development.
Some people (like me!) may feel uncomfortable swimming in the sea in England? What would you say to us?
Start in the mid-late summer, when the sea is at its warmest and don’t stay in too long – build up the time spent gradually. Swim with a friend or join a group so you keep safe. In the summer there are lifeguards on many beaches who will warn if the sea is too dangerous to swim in. There are some useful apps like Safer Seas and Rivers Service (SSRS) which alerts you to water quality issues associated with sewer overflow discharges, heavy rainfall and other pollution incidents.
Whats it like plunging into freezing cold water?!
Well, I don’t actually plunge into freezing cold water – the sea is on average 15.9 C in Brighton in October and is currently a bit warmer. In winter and Spring, it can drop to 9 C so I don’t stay in so long or wear a wet suit and bobble hat when it’s that cold. I go in slowly, breathe, look at the sky and the waves and enjoy. It feels amazing and actually gets quite addictive!
How can we follow you on your challenge?
I post on Instagram @eat4wellbeing and on my facebook fundraiser.
More about Jo
As well as being a Regenerus Labs’ Clinical Support Specialist, Jo Majithia, is Registered Nutritional Therapist since 2003. Based in Brighton and Hove, Jo runs a busy online clinic called Eat4Wellbeing where she consults individuals with a wide range of health concerns including hormonal imbalances and digestive disorders.
More about Surfers Against Sewage
Surfers Against Sewage is a national marine conservation and campaigning charity that inspires, unites and empowers communities to take action to protect the ocean and our blue spaces.