How do you draw attention to the pervasive issue of plastic pollution?
Wearing a mermaid’s tail in public is one way to go about it.
Amy Mellen will do whatever it takes to not only heighten awareness, but encourage people to hold themselves, and others, accountable for their actions.
Having grown up in Lake Macquarie, Amy has a natural appreciation for lakes, beaches, creeks and waterways.
But, these days, she’s painfully aware that something is amiss with her aquatic playground: it’s polluted, and worsening by the minute.
Now aged 27 and living in Cairns – the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef – Amy is driving a fledgling project called For Earth Mermaid.
She’s encouraging her Instagram followers, who know her as Mermaid Mellen, to post about their beach cleans and litter collections so she can add them to the Australian Marine Debris Database – an initiative of the Tangaroa Blue Foundation.
Whether it’s five pieces of rubbish or 5,000, Amy says she wants to hear about it.
“I’m even offering to do [the data entry] for them, as it can be quite an arduous process,” she tells Newcastle Weekly.
“The important thing is to help [Tangaroa Blue] target problem areas, to find out where the rubbish is coming from and what we can do about it.”
On a recent visit to her hometown, Amy noticed some local holiday hangouts were peppered with rubbish, including Coon Island, near Swansea Heads.
“I think the thing that upset me the most was that there were all these people there with their kids, and there were wheelie bins, but all the rubbish was around the bins, not in them,” she says.
“It’s time for people to take a bit of social responsibility.
“It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the scale [of the issue], but if everyone focused on their little spot they visit, it would make a huge impact.”
Amy is working on building a website for people to follow her journey.
In the meantime, you can follow her on Instagram, @for.earth.mermaid, and share your photos using the hashtag #imaforearthmermaid