As awareness of the issue has grown, the number of individuals passionate about making a difference has increased exponentially. This is great news for plastic pollution awareness, which is a really important part of tackling the problem, but adventure journeys also give us deeper opportunities to create change. These opportunities come from the diversity of the individuals that take part.
I work for an organisation called eXXpedition – a community interest company that organises all-women sailing voyages all over the world with a focus on plastics and toxics in our oceans. This summer, I sailed on one of the voyages, from Vancouver to Seattle, looking at the impact of plastic on remote coastlines and communities. Every eXXpedition voyage is crewed by a multidisciplinary team of women – scientists, artists, teachers, designers, filmmakers, photographers, marketeers, TV personalities and more. During the voyages, we complete citizen science for our partner scientists and organisations all over the world. We also hold outreach events with local communities – these include beach cleans, talks and workshops.
On initial inspection, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is a straightforward plastics adventure. It has all the key traits. We travel from A to B, often in a way that is out of the comfort zone of those taking part (first-time sea sickness anyone?). We experience things that we have only heard about in news stories and seen in video footage. It’s often, but not always, remote and, therefore, in juxtaposition to our day-to-day lives. We work with local groups to understand plastic pollution from their perspective, what the challenges are and how they are working to tackle them. It would be easy to leave it there, but our vision is bigger than our voyages. We want to create real, lasting change.
The uniqueness and durability of the project comes from the individuals that take part. Adventure gives us the rare opportunity to package our message in an exciting and engaging way. It allows us to share in vivid, passionate detail how this new experience intersects with our previous life experiences and passions, in a way that is relatable to others.
Arguably, one of the most important parts of the programme is the crew selection process. Everyone who joins us on board wants to find a way to tackle ocean plastic; some of them have already started. They want to amplify their impact by gaining practical experience, meeting and collaborating with like-minded individuals and learning more about how their skills fit in the web of plastic pollution solutions. The resulting outreach and projects are relatable because we are women from different backgrounds and different skillsets. This time it was us, but it could be you.
The eXXpedition programme is about the science and the sailing, but it also includes workshops and support in finding how your skillset can be applied to tackling ocean plastic, and how to best communicate this to others. We want to give you a platform to tell YOUR story – the eXXpedition adventure is just the start of it. That’s how we use adventure for good.
To find out more about eXXpedition, or to apply to join their recently announced Round the World 2019-2021 – a pioneering ocean sailing expedition to circumnavigate the globe with the aim of raising awareness of, and explore solutions to, the devastating environmental and health impacts of single-use plastics and toxics in the world’s ocean, visit www.exxpedition.com