This Superstar is Bringing Beach Cleanups To the Landlocked
A few years ago when Anne Mäusbacher was telling me about her new project Beach Cleaner, she said, "You know Sam, we don't live by the sea, so Germans don't always think of the ocean when thinking of conservation. I want to change that."
Not be the sea is pretty accurate. While Germany's prime coastline is a windswept expanse on the North and Baltic seas, the rest of the country is nested in between Alpine lake colonies and river networks. Don't get me wrong, I'm a sucker for a Hefeweisen on the Chiemsee in July, but coming from California the lack of waves was a slight adjustment.
Umweltschutz: Environment Protection
It seemed par for the course for Anne to start a movement in Nuremberg. Germans are on the whole extremely environmentally conscientious (the country is a world leader in Energiewende (transition to renewable energies) and I've lived here long enough to sort our recycling into four bins with my eyes closed, all while hang-drying the laundry.
German are also avid travelers (look no further than my husband) with a consistently solid economy, ample holiday time and a general curiosity about other cultures. She had seen the impact of pollution on her own travels across Ibiza, Bali and other islands and started bringing a personal tote bag to collect trash while on vacation.
Growing up in San Diego, California, I was no stranger to coastline collaborations. Beach cleanups were a weekend activity. Ocean conservation was embedded into our schooling. We spent our free time surfing, lifeguarding, being mini-shepherds of the sea. Later I partnered with wave-conscious organizations like Surfrider, taught kids who didn't have opportunities to get to the beach how to surf with STOKED and joined Patagonia's Music Collective.
So it was no question I was excited to be a part of Anne's passion which was, by default of where I was raised, also a passion of mine.
I brought Sia to the most recent river cleanup (not recommended, unless chasing an overdressed toddler across a park is your idea of awesome) on our local Pegnitz River, a key trade route during the Middle Ages and part of it being the center of the Holy Roman Empire (American friends, this is some serious German history I had to dig into upon moving here).
I'd been to her cleanups before and am always surprised how many families with little kids turn up despite the rain, dredging up garbage our of the river like opening Christmas gifts (In 2018 Anne will roll out a Kids for the Ocean initiative bringing advocacy to plastic-free living and marine conservation).
Anne and her sweet family are dedicated to a plastic-free lifestyle. She shops at Zero Hero- a new shop in town with unpackaged bulk food and products. She looks to communities abroad like those of the Clean Coast Collective and Bea Johnson for sources of inspiration.
It's been beautiful to watch her passion grow from a small local startup to a regional powerhouse turning little steps into big splashes, connecting rivers and oceans. It's precisely the connection we need to help keep this planet healthy for our kids.