This is probably a different kind of blog to the one you’re used to on IAATO.org, but certainly no less important.
I want to talk about my friend Sarah.
An inspiration to me and others around the world Sarah Auffret was the epitome of Antarctic Ambassadorship and her passion and enthusiasm for our planet left everyone she met enthralled.
During her working life, Sarah was an assistant and then base leader at the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, an Expedition Leader at G Adventures leading safe and environmentally responsible expeditions to the Antarctic and the Arctic, and latterly Environmental Agent for the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) where she spearheaded its joint UN Clean Seas Project with IAATO.
So, when we lost Sarah so suddenly and tragically in the Ethiopia Airlines crash on March 10, 2019, as she travelled to a UN Summit in Nairobi to discuss the polar communities’ efforts to remove ocean plastic, those whose lives she touched flooded social media with their stories. We cried, we laughed, and ultimately asked “what can we do to continue her legacy?” Within weeks the Clean Up for Sarah was born; an initiative which takes its lead from the beach clean-ups she led Arctic visitors in and her incredible commitment to Clean Seas.
Today, June 16, Sarah would have celebrated her birthday. The Clean Up for Sarah family which is spread from the Arctic to Japan, from the US to Norway, France, England, Chile and so many places in between has been honouring her and their shared love of our planet by picking up trash, wherever they are in the world, between June 12 and 22.
With COVID-19 imposing house arrest across the globe right now, many are feeling rudderless as they try to adjust to this strange new normal, so to be able to mobilise in our own little corners of the world; to pick up trash on our doorsteps, in our neighbourhoods and our green spaces, is not only honouring our dear friend but giving us all purpose and an opportunity to do something at a time when we’re restricted to doing very little.
This is the second annual Clean Up for Sarah and we have been finding COVID-safe ways to participate, understanding that individual actions are just as important as group ones. If you haven’t already, we’d ask you to join us.
We will be sending a video of participant photos shared and the map of where activities have taken place to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Clean Seas Project for them to realize the legacy that our Sarah has created.
We miss Sarah deeply but her legacy lives on in the determination of those she inspired to protect our planet; to heal some of the wounds humans have left in our short time here.
Had she remained with us, Sarah would have continued to carry out great and impactful acts which would benefit the world we live in. The least we can do is try to do the same.
About the Author | Susan Adie
Susan Adie has dedicated her life to environmental conservation. After studying environmental science and education at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, she joined forces with a filmmaker to create educational resources about Alaska for schools.
In 1987 Susan worked on a ship in Alaska as a lecturer, based on the experience she had on the film production, lecturing on nature and wildlife. It was through this she met the person who would later offer her a job in Antarctica.
She joined IAATO member Operator G Adventures eight years ago as expedition operations manager and expedition leader. As manager, she designs and implements itineraries, hires, trains and manages the expedition staff; manages all documentation for permits for the ship to travel into the worlds remote destinations. She has also directed a move in ship operations towards greater responsibility in ecologically sustainable tourism by stopping the use of one-use plastics, serving sustainable seafood and eduction programs revolving around ecologically sensitive marine ecosystems.
Susan has just been honoured for her commitment to responsible tourism in Antarctica with the naming of a cove after her – Adie Cove is on the west side of the Antarctica peninsula