Tim Silverwood, Take 3 For The Sea

Ever wanted to know what it takes to create a movement? Today I am delighted to share this interview with Surfer and Environmentalist Tim Silverwood and his Legacy Project, Take 3 For The Sea. Take 3 is a not-for-profit organisation and movement with a very simple message, whenever you’re at a beach, waterway or anywhere in the great outdoors, simply take 3 pieces of rubbish away with you and you’ve made a difference.

Take 3’s vision is to be a leader in significantly reducing plastic pollution in Australia and around the globe and their mission is to significantly reduce global plastic pollution through education and participation.

Read on to discover Tim’s story, the highlights of his journey and what it takes to build a movement from the ground up.


What inspired you to create Take 3 For The Sea?

I’d become alarmed at the state of the oceans following my surfing adventures through Asia. I was horrified by the amount of pollution being willingly dumped into the environment. I started rallying my friends and fellow surfers to join me in cleanup activities and in the process was introduced to Amanda Marechal and Roberta Dixon-Valk who had the concept for Take 3. I was immediately attracted to the idea, as it handed responsibility to ‘everyone’ to help solve the growing global problem of plastic pollution and waste.

In the year before making your career change, how would you describe your mental, emotional and spiritual state to a close and trusted friend? Was there an event/events which served as catalysts for the work you now do?

Take 3 was established in late 2009 but it wasn’t until 2011 that I was prepared to invest a lot of energy into it. I was living in Newcastle and working for another NGO when a remarkable opportunity came my way…a chance to sail across the North Pacific Ocean from Hawaii to Canada to study the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. I left my job, crowd-funded $15k and sailed into the vast, blue yonder with a dream to become an environmental activist. It worked! When I came back I conducted a TEDx talk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=td8RkPDOPuc), engaged the media and started traveling Australia giving presentations and encouraging action.

It was a challenging time. My focus and resolve led me to break ties with my then partner and I developed tunnel vision for my projects and Take 3. It was all for a reason though. I knew that the decisions I was making then, however challenging, were establishing the foundation for an exciting, purposeful and contented future.

Tim Silverwood Portraits by Chris Prestidge www.atdusk.com.au low res 4

How does Take 3 For The Sea (T3FTS) bring your unique talents to life? In what way does it give you personal fulfilment or a sense of purpose?

It’s a funny thing when you finally find a job/ project that you really really love and realise that the skills that you’d always downplayed or never understood were finally relevant. That’s what it was like for me. Sure I’d studied sustainability at university and had experience in the conservation / NGO space, but the skills that suddenly became valuable were the ones I’d never thought would be important. Firstly there was my role as a surfer, a member of a global tribe with a vested interest in a healthy ocean. Secondly, my love of travel had enabled me to register the global scale and understand the complexities of a planet with 7 billion inhabitants. Thirdly I realised the skills I’d gained in participating in drama studies and working as a tour guide were becoming valuable as I started presenting to rooms full of strangers or TV crews.

The thing I love most about Take 3 and our approach to solving this enormous problem is that it’s all-inclusive and collaborative. Click To Tweet

The thing I love most about Take 3 and our approach to solving this enormous problem is that it’s all-inclusive and collaborative. I love that we are part of a global community of people and projects that are all united for a common goal. I hope that our willingness to involve ‘everyone’ in being part of the solution is evident in our campaigns and messaging.

Tim Silverwood

What drives you to do the work that you do and keep going?

The ocean and its inhabitants drive me. I feel a deep philosophical ideology that our species has a responsibility to protect the unnecessary death and harm of innocent creatures. There is nothing more wasteful than the death of an innocent being that could have easily been prevented. I’m sure all of us have seen pictures of a penguin dead in a six-pack ring or a deceased dolphin with a plastic bag in its stomach. I’m motivated to make the world a better place for them and for future generations of our own species. Inter-generational equality is a core value we all need to embrace.

Inter-generational equality is a core value we all need to embrace.Click To Tweet

What has been a highlight of the organization so far?

The fact that we’re still going strong after almost 7 years. It’s incredibly challenging to turn a good idea into a functioning organisation. There are so many administrative hoops to jump through let alone managing human resources and the inevitable financial pressures. Our people are our everything, without our dedicated and passionate volunteers nothing would be possible. I’m so excited about the next steps and future growth of Take 3 and all the projects I’m involved with. The ‘climate’ for positive action on issues relating to oceans, pollution, plastics and waste is ripe for the picking. I’m stoked to be a part of it.

How does your work serve a higher purpose on planet earth? And how does that make you feel?

It’s a challenging task to evaluate your impact. It’s not something that one can easily ascertain and understand. I enjoy seeing little examples of our impact that often come through online forums and social media. I get a huge kick when young people indicate their excitement for sustainability. I spend a lot of time conducting presentations and workshops in schools and there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing teenagers get genuinely excited about our work. I remember what it’s like in high school, students are normally very conscious and ‘cagey’ about showing support for ideas outside of the norm so to see them express public enthusiasm is just awesome.  

In a broader context it just feels ‘right’ to be doing work that is restorative as opposed to deleterious. So much of our human existence has a damaging impact on the natural world and I want to reverse that trend and find a better way. We only get a handful of decades on this earth; I’d rather spend that time doing good than perpetuating bad.

We only get a handful of decades on earth I’d rather spend that time doing good than perpetuating bad.Click To Tweet

What great lesson or lessons have you learnt so far in life?

Live simply. Now more than ever we need to recognise that we don’t need all the nonsense that’s force fed to us. More money and more stuff won’t make you happy. Happiness and satisfaction comes from becoming content with yourself.

Tim Silverwood, Take 3 For The Sea

How would you like to be remembered?

I haven’t thought that far ahead.

If you could give one piece of advice what would it be and why?

“Simplify. Simplify.” It’s 2 pieces of advice and it’s not mine, it’s from Walden by Henry David Thoreau. He was onto something, it’s a shame it didn’t catch on.

Who or what is your favourite:

  1. Musician? The Beatles, their diversity across the years is phenomenal.
  2. Author? Tim Winton, his descriptions of the ocean and coast are spellbinding.
  3. Mantra or Quote? “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot. Nothing is going to get better, it’s not.” Dr Seuss, The Lorax.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot. Nothing is going to get better, it’s not.” The LoraxClick To Tweet

How can people find out more about you and T3FTS?

Follow our journey on Instagram (instagram.com/@take3forthesea) or www.take3.org

We’re always looking for new opportunities to expand our program and build our capacity to deliver the Take 3 message in Australia and abroad. Please share a photograph next time you pick up some trash or avoid single use plastic with the #take3forthesea hashtag


Thank you for being here and consciously choosing to explore the different ways that ordinary people are living extraordinary lives by serving a higher purpose through their daily work. Everything we do here at YLP.com is designed to inspire and empower you to live your legacy and bring your unique talents to life.

So tell me, what is your Legacy Project going to be? Do you feel passionate about people or the planet? What do you believe you’ve been put on earth to do? I believe that everyone is born for a reason but it takes time and patience and persistence to sometimes find that purpose. Are you concerned about the planet, have you got an idea to help us combat climate change or reduce our impact on natural resources? Let’s start a conversation that can actually make a difference in the comments below. Please take a moment to share your thoughts.

Live With Purpose,