By Cath Hough
For our next adventure global sailing brand ‘Sperry’ sponsored a group of international travelers from across Europe to educate and ignite the spirit of sea-based exploration. The young ambassadors have been plucked out of their element and into the Oceans in a hope of opening not only their (camera) lenses but their eyes to the hidden threats of plastic pollution.
Instagrammers, blogger, journalists and photographers stepped about Sea Dragon in Antigua to immerse themselves in a week of environmental discovery. Led by UK based post-doc research fellow Dr. Stephanie Wright, the group followed an intensive four-day program to get to the heart of the plastic pollution problem. The curriculum was split into three main sessions, each highlighting the horrifying effects of plastic pollution and searching for solutions.
From boarding the boat, the group was thrown into practically examining the issue. Minutes after leaving the anchorage in Falmouth Harbor we started trawling for micro plastics, to produce a thirty-minute sample. Later the evidence was examined under a microscope to identify tiny plastic particles. We then discussed how this relates to humans and the environment around us. Shockingly, we learned that there is over 300 million tons of plastic produced worldwide annually. 40% of this is single- use packaging, much of which ends up in landfill sites, recycling facilities or as litter. This results in a big plastic pollution problem in the marine environment.
As well as investigating the problem we had some time to enjoy the natural environment too. During our sail, we spotted a pod of Humpback Whales breaching! This really brought to the surface the idea that we are surrounded by natural beauty, however, there is an underlying problem that we are slowly destroying our marine environment.
During the third day, we started tackling solutions to the problem through brainstorming and sharing ideas. Instagrammer and blogger @a_girlwhotravels summed up her feelings by saying; “The beach and the water look perfectly pristine, but did you know that our oceans are filled with 3 trillion plastic particles as we speak?! Microplastics (tiny pieces of plastic debris) are particularly harmful to marine life as fish and animals at the bottom of the food chain often mistake them for food. As a result, those who eat shellfish, maybe exposed to 11,000 pieces of microplastics a YEAR, and that’s just based on Shellfish consumption in Europe.
The beach (from her photo) as gorgeous as it was, was already filled with tiny bits of microplastics, with a lot more floating in the water… It’s our responsibility to protect our Oceans and it’s wonderful to see Sperry and Pangea come together to strengthen the quality of marine life. Sailing with them was such an eye opening experience and I can’t wait to share it all with you on the blog!”
This week proved that we can use our voice to make a real difference. Examples we came up with are:
-To buy more ethically, such as investing in eco-friendly products and brands
– To up cycle, shop vintage and use it till it breaks
– Spread through our networks e.g word of mouth, social media and blogs
– Educate others
– Encourage friends and family to use less plastic
– Bring your own bags to the shops, don’t buy packaged food.
– Organize a beach clean up
– Buy food from the local market
-Wear less synthetic clothing
This week has been a real eye opener and got to the heart of the issue. Everyone aboard has been inspired to make a positive change in their life to tackle the issue.
‘The sea, the great unifier, is man’s only hope. Now, as never before the old phase has a literal meaning: we are all in the same boat’ Jaques Cousteau.