24 women, 3,000 miles, 1 mission.
Sounds like a movie, doesn’t it? Right now, a group of awesome women are sailing the North Pacific, as part of a rad eco-mission I’d never heard of until last weekend – eXXpedition.
The homepage strapline for eXXpedition reads: “eXXpedition is a series of all-women voyages to make the unseen seen, from the toxics in our bodies to the toxics in our seas”. Alright, you’ve got my attention – what are you doing?
“Our mission is to explore the issue of plastics, chemicals, endocrine disruptors and carcinogens in our personal and global environment that can cause disease. Our aim is to engage women in scientific narratives relating to the consumer choices they make, and the long-term health impacts of those choices on themselves and our environment.
“Along an eXXpedition voyage the crew sample the Ocean for plastics and pollutants, feeding in these samples to wider studies investigating the impacts of plastics pollutants and linking this sampling to narratives of ecosystem health, personal health and the products we consume.”
Okay – that’s me and all of you filled in on the basics. So now for the update.
25th June 2018: eXXpedition North Pacific set sail
Today, 24 women from Britain, the USA, Canada, Slovenia, Norway and Honduras set off on a 3,000 nautical mile voyage through the North Pacific Gyre – a.k.a, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The journey is scheduled to end in just over a month, on July 28th 2018, after two long legs of the pioneering research expedition are complete.
The crew’s aim, according to the website is to:
- Raise awareness of the damaging impact that single-use plastics and other toxic materials have on our oceans
- Contribute to innovative scientific research to tackle the crisis
- Celebrate women in science, leadership and adventure
- Create a community of female changemakers
- Inspire people around the world to tackle plastic pollution and its environmental and health impacts
If you’re into your sailing you might have heard of skipper Emily Penn, but the rest of the crew on board are a motley mixture of seasoned sailors and women who have never sailed before. This year there are team members who are scientists, students, artists, filmmakers, actors and sustainability pros in the mix – the unifying feature is that they’re all bad-ass women who want to save the world.
Cool! What’s this got to do with me?
Am I talking to myself if I write and then answer a question? If so, I’m doing it twice over now. But anyway – the reason I’m sharing the news about this year’s expedition is because I think it sounds rad, because it’s a good cause and I’m always keen to share a bit of positive news.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is something I like to bring up any time opportunity lets me. For example, when something needs to be described as massive, when someone asks why I’ve got a bamboo straw, when I want to name things that are bigger than Texas… and other times beside.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (which I now know is actually called the North Pacific Gyre) is a painfully, disgustingly huge patch of floating plastic and other cr*p that is bobbing around in the North Pacific ocean. It’s freaking massive. Like, whole countries could fit inside the GPGP – that’s how much crap we’ve dumped into the sea as a species. We are now responsible for a vast island made solely of discarded junk. It’s polluting the water, it’s killing sea animals – it’s gross, and it’s a great big sticker saying “we f***ed up” slapped across the face of the earth.
Currently, the solid central part of the patch – which was first spotted about 30 years ago – is three times the size of France. France. THE COUNTRY, FRANCE, WHERE 67 MILLION PEOPLE LIVE. We have made A FLOATING PATCH OF SH*T THAT IS BIG ENOUGH FOR 201 MILLION PEOPLE TO LIVE ON IT.
(They can’t live on it, because that’s not how floating garbage patches work, and instead of being a nice little habitat, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is actually just one big bobbing sh*theap of shame.)
What do we do about it?
While much of the patch is comprised of single-use plastics of the type we could all easily live without, a hideous 46% is made of discarded fishing nets. I used to be a pescatarian, not because I thought fish didn’t have feelings, but because I didn’t think that fishing was anything like as bad for the planet as the industrial farming of other animals. Oh how incredibly wrong I was. If you haven’t thought about cutting down on your fish intake or going veggie before now, give it some serious thought – I can show you some top notch vegan sushi that’s enough to help anyone kick their fish habit.
I’ll be following the eXXpedition voyage to see what the new research finds and to see what the crew are sharing along the way, and definitely want to encourage you all to do the same.
If you’re keen to make a difference and not sure where to start, I found a cool little resource linked from their website, called the Ocean Changemaker’s Toolkit (see link), which contains things like articles on cutting plastic out of your life and videos you can share to get other people feeling inspired. Take a look at my other article on reducing your plastic waste for an easy starting point, and please as always leave suggestions, tips, or links to any useful articles you’ve found in the comments below!
Oh – and if you fancy setting sail on an eXXpedition voyage yourself next year, here’s the sign up link: