The Best Innovation Joins Sea Dragon

Nov 14 2010

BlueEco2
Pangaea and 5Gyres are excited to be going to sea with new kit that represents the absolute best of maritime ability and sustainable design. The crew is using the new Henri Lloyd Blue Eco line of “foulies” to work in all conditions and role model the best commercial innovation.

As an operation, a vessel, a team and as partners (5Gyres, the UN) we are sometimes discordant in what we advocate, believe, and what we must do in our work. We are deeply concerned by the multiplying threats to the ocean. We know, as the team proves today at sea, that the oceans are slowly filling with the debris of 6 Billion people and our synthetic lifestyles. We all believe and advocate that the materials we use offer fantastic performance, durability and efficiency but too often at a steep environmental cost. We simply believe they must not be wasted. For us that means using the right type and amount of material for the task. As Charles Moore said so well with David Letterman: “plastic is a wonderful material – it lasts forever. Use it for things that were designed to last forever, not used once”. We believe that wherever possible, product materials like containers should be fully recyclable- with multiple lives as valuable products. And, at the very bitter end, we believe that we should at least be able to capture the energy value of used-up material- displacing virgin carbon fuels.

And yet, we use alot of material in the conduct of our expeditions and Sea Dragon operations that fall well short of these goals. We burn virgin diesel, use massive synthetic sails, exotic chemistry paints and coatings, non-recycled plastics in our electronics, packaging, and even sailing ropes (no hemp lines or wooden blocks!). These materials give us exceptional capability to cross oceans, take new mariners to sea safely, gather data and communicate worldwide from the middle of nowhere. Without them, we cannot do our mission. We accept the trade-offs of non-sustainable materials to do the important work in ocean conservation. However, acceptance does not mean complacency. We are keenly aware of these trade-offs and constantly searching for better options. To date- water based anti-fouling paints, LED vs. halogen lighting, wind turbines, solar panels.

With this context, the team on Sea Dragon is breaking important ground with our newest sponsor, Henri Lloyd. In Brazil, the team took off our 17 sets of heavy, traditional foul-weather gear made, like most clothing, out of totally synthetic materials produced in very energy intensive ways (even cotton has a carbon/ synthetic heavy supply chain). In its place we put the new Blue Eco line, just released by Henri Lloyd. We are tremendously excited by the story and the capability of this new gear. “Foulies” as they are known, are an almost primordial bit of kit for mariners. Until the plastic age began in the 1950’s, they were “oil skins”, and before that, all manner of weather shielding outer garments. They, by definition, get used when the weather is “foul”- high winds, rain, spray and at times, full immersion. They need to keep you absolutely dry, warm, clear of cutting wind- and if you go over the side- help people find you. We put them on, like firemen, in a rush, at 2am, with the sound of rain, squall winds or a flogging sail. They have to be there, work every time, keep you right and then come off fast and wait – with little care- for the next cycle. They are worn for days, weeks, months even…they are personal. So, needless to say, the Sea Dragon crew takes this kit very seriously- and like the rigging or navigation gear- without any compromise.

We were excited to see Henri Lloyd set an entirely new standard with an “infinitely recyclable” foul weather product called Eco Blue. We first saw this in an industry press release copy, and then almost simultaneously learned that Pangaea Exploration had just been awarded the same green boating recognition as Blue Eco by the UK’s Practical Boating. The fit was obvious between an industry leader in material sustainability and our joint team. What Henri Lloyd and their Japanese supply partner, Teijin, had done was exactly what we had been advocating. We could now go to sea, do our difficult mission and actively demonstrate the type of products and commercial innovation that can make a real difference.

What makes the Blue Eco line, and the Teijin Eco-Storm material so powerful is its literal ability to be used forever with out performance compromise. Produced in a well run Japanese operation, the fabrics are taken by Henri Lloyd and transformed into first rate, no compromise marine kit (Teijin press release). Last week, the Sea Dragon distributed them to the crew for a useful life at sea. Someday, many years ahead, when the tens of thousands of miles, sun, salt, high winds, rough edges and many, many crew have taken their toll – it will NOT go to waste in a landfill. These jackets and trousers will go back to the source at Teijin, be reground and cycled back into new eco fabrics- a new generation of foul weather gear. The carbon footprint is cut dramatically, the landfills are kept clear, plastics are kept out of vulnerable habitats, and the crew of Sea Dragon sails on. Brilliant.

So first reports…We talked to the crew via sat-phone yesterday. Eco Blue are in full use by all crew with perfect results. I got words like “light weight”, “really good fit”, “totally dry”…and of course “looks right”- that’s kiwi marine speak for good fashion. We’ll get more feedback reports as the miles progress- and a few action shots as well.

We are pleased to partner with Henri Lloyd on the Blue Eco line. This is an absolutely perfect match of conservation mission, message and commercial innovation. We can research and talk about these issues all day long. However, there must be concrete steps towards better, practical solutions to make actual progress. Advocacy and information without action is useless. Through Henri Lloyd and Teijin, we now have the full circle. Society innovates in millions of ways every day. We believe the very best new ideas are the ones that strengthen the long-term health of all life on earth. These guys deserve genuine credit and support their leadership. Standby for more news…

Great YouTube video with West Marine