Thanks Impakter for publishing this article about sailing to discover our plastic oceans.
I was woken in the middle of the night by a thud on the hull of our boat. We rushed up on deck to find we were surrounded by pieces of plastic floating in the ocean. It didn’t make any sense. We were over 1000 miles from land. The closest people to us were in the space station, in orbit above our heads. And yet there was evidence of human life, and waste, all around us in one of the most remote parts of our planet.
I was just out of university and working my passage to Australia at the time, when this incident sparked a new career direction for me – sailing the world on a mission to connect people – scientists and communicators – with the ocean, exploring issues from the Equator to the Poles.
Exploration, understanding, and education are key to helping us figure out how to restore a healthy ocean. The issues are complex but the more time I spend at sea, the more I realise the solutions start on land.
There are ways to tackle the problem at every point – from source to ocean – from product design to waste management. But to solve these problems long term we need to turn off the tap. We need to work at the source. This upstream action is required across all sectors of society; working with designers in industry, policymakers at a government level and all of us as individual consumers.
If we want to continue to count on the ocean as a source of food, energy, transport, and minerals for generations to come, we need to stem the flow of waste, and devise more sustainable ways of using this vital resource. As I learned on my journey, we care most about things we feel connected to. We urgently need more awareness of our blue planet to regain that connection and inspire action.