This summer I will be embarking on one leg of an expedition that will see a team of women sailing around Britain, exploring the issue of plastics, chemicals and other toxics which exist in our personal and global environment. We are a group of scientist, journalists, artists and activists who have joined together to carry out this vital research.
Those of you who know me well will be aware of my interests in sustainability, in discovering ways to live which have a smaller environmental footprint, which are better for our health and which are more in harmony with nature. I have been working on environmental issues for the last several years and last year was offered the opportnity of a lifetime, to become one of the crew of Exxpedition Round Britain, and I'm asking for you to help bring this journey to life.
Our quest as team Exxpedition Round Britain is to make the unseen seen, from the toxics in our bodies to the toxics in our seas. While public awareness of issues relating to plastic is growing, there is still a lot to be done in both researching and raising awareness of the effects that plastics, and in particular the microplastics they break down into, are having upon the health of us and the health of marine life. You can read an article published in the Guardian in February 2017 about the extent of the proliferation of these materials here.
This voyage will allow us to raise these issues up the agenda of politicians, businesses and the wider public, as we collect data and make shoreside stops along the journey, highlighting the wonderful initiatives that are already existing and conducting workshops and beach cleans as well as engaging with politicians and the media. Other plans include creating an interactive map of our activities, film and documentary screenings, workshops and competitions to engage young people and in particular young women in this issue and in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) topics.
After joining the crew in Edinburgh on the 25th of August to help carry out the activities marking the end of the second leg, some of which will be taking place in association with the Fringe Festival I will be climbing aboard the Sea Dragon and setting sail for the third and final leg on the 27th.
We will sail through the North Sea, continuing our sampling work and preparing for the entrance into the Thames. Our arrival coincides with London's annual Thames Festival, which our work will link up with. We are planning events for this time which will see a great degree of engagement with the public, politicians and partner organisations.
After we depart from London we will round the SE corner of Britain, entering the English Channel for what will most likely be the busiest and possibly most challenging part of our journey. During this final sea-based chapter we will complete our discoveries of the pollution around these islands.
Our final day, the 5th of September, will allow us to work togehter onshore one last time as we draw together our findings, which will be submitted to the Marine Conservation Society's database and which will provide us with an evidence base from which to draw ideas for future research and to inform decision-makers.
In the lead up to this time I am involved in:
-collating existing scientific research;
-engaging with the media;
-helping to plan the London event schedule; and
-writing various communications on behalf of the crew.
While aboard the Sea Dragon, I will be documenting my journey and will contribute what I gather towards an interactive map that I will be creating with another member of the crew from each leg. The aim of this output is to inspire and educate students about the issues and solutions we are investigating, as well as illustrating to them the importance and value of digital mapping and media.
The problems associated with microplastics are finally beginning to be acknowledged, we but still need to ramp up the pressure. Last year the UK government announced plans to ban the use of microbeads in cosmetics and chemical cleaners by the end of 2017, but there is evidence to suggest that this decision could be threatened. This is why I am asking for contributions towards enabling me to take part in this vital research and also to help me pass the megaphone to those who are also offering all of the the innovative solutions we have been gleaning in our research.
To make things clear, these are our objectives:
- To bring together an all-women crew – of sailors, scientists, artists, journalists, filmmakers, adventurers, psychologists and educators – to create a new Round Britain story about women in science, research, sailing and adventure.
- To collect data, footage and findings to add to the worldwide data set of plastics and toxics in the ocean, and so help to bring about change.
- To broaden awareness of the unseen -plastics and toxics/disease/women as changemakers – specifically in the capital cities, ports and harbours where we make landfall.
- To engage there with local people, holiday-makers, media and politicians, giving information about the implications of ocean pollution, from making everyday choices to action at the political level for a cleaner, healthier environment.
I am offering some rewards for donations upwards of £25, but you can rest assured that through donating any amount, however big or small, you will be contributing to multiple wonderful causes, including safeguarding the environment, bettering the health of people and wildlife and furthering the agenda of increased women's leadership and involvement in STEM subjects.
Thank you very much for your interest, time and money. I look forward to sharing the journey with you.