Back in 2014, I applied to join Exxpedition: a series of all women voyages to make the unseen seen, from the toxics in our bodies to the plastics in our seas.
I was inspired by their mission:
"To explore the issue of plastics, chemicals, endocrine disruptors and carcinogens in our personal and global environment that can cause disease."
And their aim:
"To engage women in scientific narratives relating to the consumer choices they make, and their long-term health impacts on themselves and our environment."
But I was most struck by their vision:
"Clean oceans and happy humans in a world where women are treated equally and have fair access to resources."
It was before Blue Planet 2, so the population hadn't quite woken up to the extent of the plastic pollution crisis.
Thanks to the Attenborough affect, attitudes have changed very quickly and on a massive scale!!
I became aware of this issue in Morocco 2009... I started doing beach cleans and joined the Surfers Against Sewage tribe; I reached out to Surfers Path Magazine and helped create a recycling system at my surf camp. Since then, every time I go surfing I will collect marine litter (if I can find it), and have run solo and team beach cleans all over the world. But still, the problem of ocean plastic keeps revealing itself to us; tragically, pristine no longer exists.My curiosity has continued to grow around: "how are we going to solve this?" And this question was behind my decision to start a Masters in Sustainability at The Eden Project & Anglia Ruskin University last year.
Having sailed with Sea Shepherd in The Faroes and Antarctica in the past, I know that these campaigns are an intense and immersive learning experience. I learn by doing, so they really work to expand my capacity for understanding the different facets and layers of the issues they are tackling.
But the timing wasn't right. I put the idea on the back burner, as you do. This year, applications reopened; for the first Round the World Voyage and I reapplied.
I have just been awarded a place for the first leg of Exxpedition: Plymouth to The Azores. YAY!
I'm currently spending the summer in Portugal, so these Islands are close by. They are a hub for biodiversity and home to breeding whales. What an opportunity to sail, collect data and participate in scientific research around hazardous marine litter, which I can then incorporate into my masters final project - maybe even influencing future policies and legislation.
However, as with all campaigns, funds are essential.
And this is where I need your help:
To make it happen, I need to raise the deposit as quickly as possible.
I have decided to crowdfund for this initial stage through friends, family and supporters, because I've learnt that people like to help.
If I manage to raise the deposit, I will approach corporate sponsors for the next instalment - I would love to work with companies who want to invest in this area.
I hope with this funding structure, I can make it work for all involved. I'm currently thinking of ways I can give back to supporters and sponsors - yoga / surf lessons, exclusive blog posts, school / work presentations - if you have any ideas let me know!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I'm afraid to say that this campaign does not have the "answer" to the plastic pollution problem. It is, however, working towards understanding the issue on a much deeper level. The issue is complex and contains many moving parts; in sustainability we call it a "wicked problem", not because it is evil (although it seems that way) but because there is not a singular solution. I do believe, by being part of a global campaign, we will start to grasp the magnitude of the problem, offering multi-disciplinary discourse to find creative solutions; which is when the real work begins. Right now, we can start with changing our own habits and lifestyles; inspiring others rather than pointing the finger of blame. Searching out alternatives to plastic, making conscious consumer choices, doing a little today, will help make a difference tomorrow.
FYI: I will need to fly - to Plymouth and back to Portugal from the Azores and I know that this creates further environmental impact. But through my interning with Mossy Earth (https://mossy.earth) this summer I will be able to offset necessary air travel. Check them out if you too need to fly and would like to plant some amazing carbon sequestering trees!
The ocean has given me so much joy over the years; will you help me to help the ocean?
I hope so!