“I promised you a few guest blogs this year, to give you a break from my musings. Here is the first, courtesy of Dr Marcus Eriksen of the 5 Gyres Institute. Long-time Roz-blog readers might remember Marcus as one of the two “Hunks on the JUNK“, the bizarre craft made of 10,000 empty water bottles that I encountered between San Francisco and Hawaii in 2008. Marcus is still fighting the good fight against plastic pollution.
Over to you, Marcus….”
I just flew over Diamondhead, the extinct volcano on Oahu, Hawaii. In three days we will sail to the North Pacific Gyre to study plastic pollution. I was last here three years ago when the JUNK raft drifted here from Los Angeles in 88 long days on a homemade raft floating on 15,000 plastic bottles. I remember Diamondhead coming into view, our slow 2-knot drift to the island, and my reunion with my wife Anna.
As the JUNK arrived I was looking forward to telling the world about our adventure. But I was looking back. Literally looking to the sea for Roz, who was to arrive in just a few days. Three weeks earlier we had the most amazing dinner party in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. By rowing and drifting, we intentionally found each other to trade gifts of life – water for food. Joel and I were out of food, and Roz’s water-makers had malfunctioned. We were each other’s salvation.
Now, 3 years later I’m still studying plastic pollution. Roz is still rowing, this time in the Indian Ocean on her way to be the first woman to do so around the world, and she’s finding plastic. Anna and I founded 5 Gyres and have documented plastic pollution in all 5 subtropical gyres. The problem is global, but so are solutions. Nations are banning plastic bags, companies are making smarter products, and even the Olympics is hoping to go plastic bag-free! I’m as hopeful now as I was three years ago.
About 5 Gyres-
The 5 Gyres Institute is dedicated to sustaining our oceans through research, education and adventure. We have recently completed our first series of expeditions, traveling 25,000 miles through the 5 subtropical gyres and discovered plastic pollution throughout them all. Our adventures are followed by actions: published results, educational programs, consul to business and lawmakers, and more adventure, like the 2012 Japan Tsunami Debris Field Expedition. Visit www.5gyres.org to learn how you can be involved, become crew, become a leader for sustainability in your home, office, school or community.
Photo: Joel Paschal, Roz and Marcus, Hawaii, 2008 (BBC.)
People do ask Marcus:”If there is a garbage pile in the Pacific, why can’t we see it on satellite images?”
He replies: “You’re not going to be able to see it from Google earth, you can’t even see it from an airplane. The plastic very quickly photodegrades. It doesn’t break down – it breaks apart into smaller plastic pieces. So, very quickly a water bottle, within a year becomes 5 or 10,000 small particles of plastic. So, what you are seeing is a blue ocean, but if you look at it closely it’s a plastic soup. There is no island of plastic out there, that is a misconception, what it is is this plastic soup from coast to coast – every ocean around the world.”
At last the elements are starting to help rather than hinder. Last night for the first time in about 10 days I woke up marginally closer to my destination than I was when I fell asleep. This was very good news! But progress continues slow, as I crab sideways across strong winds and rough seas. Today “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” has been keeping me entertained, and a smile on my face.
Rico – thanks for the words of encouragement (and from such a great film!). I also think of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” and how “stuckness” is often a necessary prelude to progress. This too shall pass…
Bill – actually, one of my current snacks is very similar to chocolate icing. I was given twelve cans of butter, and in an effort to find a way to use it up, I’ve taken to mixing it with my organic hot chocolate powder – a super-yummy snack! And thanks for the beautiful words.
Jay – thanks for the invite to the wine and cheesecake party. I don’t like cheesecake, so maybe I can just have the wine. That’s fine with me! It would be great fun to organize a Bay Area get-together. I will give you due warning.
Jenkuzio – your grandmother was a wise woman. Sometimes on my boat I find myself dithering over something, and usually end up telling myself out loud, “Just do SOMETHING!”
Alan from Newburyport – thanks for the naughty joke – enjoyed that one!
Quote for the day: Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities.
Sponsored Miles: Grateful thanks to Bonnie Sterngold, Lauren Scott.