When I started out writing this post I assumed it would be a straightforward - top X beach accessories and how they relate to our Turkish Towels etc etc ... as it evolved I realised how truly different beach life was and the contrast in how the beach is used by society today - not earth shattering granted - but what might beach culture look like for the next generation? In order to really see how things changed I looked back, in particular to our own beach Bondi's history, and I've found some interesting people / entrepreneurs / opportunists creating products inspired by (or interact with) the beach, for today and the future.
The beach is synonymous with an Australian way of life - right? It’s how we've marketed ourselves to the outside world for a while now, a country where 3 of the great oceans of the world meet (Pacific, Southern and Indian Oceans) home to 10,685 beaches [based on University of Sydney's Coastal Studies Unit] and the majority of our population is located in two main coastal regions. So it only seems natural that this whole beach thing comes easy to us, well that wasn't always the case.
In the 19th century our concept of “a beach way of life” was essentially imported from Britain. On many of the Sydney beaches it was not uncommon to see amusement style theme parks and aquariums - entertainment basically. One of Australia's most iconic beaches - Bondi - was until 1882 privately owned and for most of the 19th century swimming and bathing in public view was banned during daylight hours, how on earth do you expect me to get rid of those tan lines?!!
Fast forward through the years and with help from Henry Alexander Wylie, Charles Perkins, Annette Kellerman, Speedos, Slip Slop Slap, Turn Back the Tide and Surf Life Saving Australia to name but a few, the beach and bathing culture we know today is very different from that of only a few generations ago. Without people like these who challenged the ideologies of the day we wouldn't have the culture which many of us take for granted.
So where to next? well these guys are doing some pretty interesting things that could in some way, shape or form impact what you do at the beach.
1. shadow wifi
Ok this one has me divided. Shadow wi-fi “provides beach-goers Internet access in the safety of the shade to help prevent skin cancer” “A physical, looming blue structure provides free Wi-Fi access in its shade. A directional antenna ensures that the Wi-Fi is only delivered to the shadow area. A sensor tracks the movements of the sun throughout the day, changing the rotation of the Wi-Fi antenna. When the sun moves and the shade shifts, so must Wi-Fi seekers” . I mean why do you need to be on your phone that much when you’re at the beach - surely there is time to unplug your life and the beach is the perfect place. The fact is however that people are addicted to their smartphones and that “Two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70” and “between 95 and 99% of skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun” (in Australia) it only makes sense to try and educate and curb the rate at which skin cancer is increasing at the same time.
2. sponge suit
The Sponge Suit “aims to transform the swimming experience into an eco-friendly activity, by helping clean seas while swimming, one stroke at a time” . With the undeniable rise is wearable tech in our everyday life it's completely feasible that taking a swim can be combined with cleaning up the nasty bits in our ocean in the very near future.
3. plastic bank
Initially dismayed when finding that many of the beaches encountered on their global travels often had more plastic than sand on them (particularly in the poorer parts of the world), Vancouver based entrepreneurs David Katz and Shaun Frankson started Plastic bank. They aim “to use plastic as a form of currency that people living in poverty can gather and trade in to recycling centers located in impoverished areas with a lot of plastic waste. Then the centers, operated by Plastic Bank, would recycle the material on-site or ship it to a plant somewhere else where the plastics would be separated and recycled.” With the end goal of on-selling the recycled plastic to like minded business or using their own 3d printing technology to allow the collectors to create a product ie. water filters with recycled plastics and sell back to the community in turn creating more entrepreneurs.
For beach goers across England and Wales safer seas service is a real time water quality app that helps alerts users to poor quality water and pollution often resulting from untreated sewage and waste water discharge that greatly impacts the quality of their favourite beach.
Using beacon technology built right into the sunglass frame, Tzukuri have developed what they're calling the world's first unloseable sunglasses. We’ve all lost a pair, and some several (Nil ;) ) so this seems a perfect idea to pack in your beach bag.
iSwimband is worn as either a headband or wristband and uses a built-in sensor to detect when it has been submerged for a user-definable length of time. Whilst this doesn't appear to be for beach use yet, with 20% of drowning occurring at the beach in Australia it’s something that could easily be modified to make it safer for all, kids especially.
“Ooho! is a new kind of packaging made from seaweed that proposes an alternative to plastic bottles. Our spherical water container is easy and cheap to make, strong, hygienic, biodegradable, and can even be eaten.” what might seem down right weird concept from the outset, just realise that millions of tonnes of plastic enters the oceans each year, and Australians alone buy 600 million litres of bottled water a year , if I can reduce my impact on marine life by eating my own water bottle then I say hell yeah! where do I start.
Initiated by a Brazilian suncream company, tattoo artists all over Brazil are being trained by doctors to look for skin cancer. Thats pretty amazing me thinks. check this video.
9. Surf Sauna
Some might argue that surfing in winter is the best time. Regular strong swell and less crowds help put the chaos of a summer in Bondi behind you, the only downside is well… the cold. Creating bespoke size saunas that can be attached to your car trailer Surf Sauna created “custom built adventure mobile exactly how you like it. The price includes surf racks, a wood fired stove, the aluminum brim, and brass hatch.” Now where is your excuse not to go for a winter surf?