Regular readers of this blog will know that since last autumn I have been co-patron of a campaign to make the 2012 Olympics plastic bag free. We had a very promising first meeting with the powers-that-be in December, and I was really hopeful that we could take this important and symbolic first step towards banning the bag in the UK.

I was dismayed to learn via email that the initiative seems to have stalled. So far the organizing committee have pledged only to ban single use plastic bags in their own shops. I don’t see how this squares with the claim that the 2012 Olympics would be the “most sustainable games” ever. Plastic bags are unsustainable from start to finish. They are made from oil, and once thrown into landfill or oceans they last for hundreds of years. What on Earth is sustainable about that? Plastic bags are the very epitome of unsustainability.

Plus, if the organizers enforce a bolder ban, it will be an unparalleled opportunity for a big PR and public awareness campaign around the perils of plastic – the toxins, hormone disruptors, effect on wildlife etc etc. Visitors coming to the Games from around the world will take this message back to their home countries to encourage change there.

Apparently mutterings were being made about “lack of storage space” – presumably for paper bags instead of plastic. My view was that the retailers should produce tasteful commemorative bags, made from organic cotton, to be sold for, say, GBP 1. Consumers would have a nice souvenir, retailers would have longer-lived bags bearing their logos, and millions of plastic bags would be kept out of landfill. And I expect the retailers would manage to find storage space if they were making a profit on every bag sold.

I believe a plastic bag free Britain could be a genuine legacy of the London 2012 Olympic Games!

With just a year to go I earnestly need your help. We must not give up on our efforts! There is still time to influence matters, even though this is now the 11th hour. Please sign the petition organized by Greener-Upon-Thames (of which I am a patron) and support their grassroots campaign for a full ban – and encourage friends, family and colleagues to sign too.

Every signature counts.

Other Stuff:

As of today I have been at sea exactly 3 months. And am not yet half way. Sigh. But this doesn’t mean it’s going to take me over 6 months to get across. The second half should, according to my weatherman, have more favourable winds. That would be nice.

Our Week 42 podcast, “Dancing Dorados” is now live!

UncaDoug – I’m not taking water temps, but air temps have been between 22 and 34 Celsius. Mostly quite pleasant, really. I saw the crescent moon tonight, and thought of you!

Roger Finch – you being rude about my height?! Come over here and say that!! ūüôā

Fiona Schneider – hoping to arrive in September. Or October. Can’t be more precise than that, I’m afraid!

Anne – your joke made me snort with laughter. Thank you! For those who missed it the first time around, here it is again: What did the fish say when he ran into a wall?

Rico – I’m sure I shouldn’t laugh at your joke. But I did!

Quote – courtesy of Jim Bell’s great-great-great….-grandfather:
For every problem under the sun,
There is a solution, or there’s none.
If there is one, try and find it,
If there isn’t, never mind it.

Sponsored Miles: James Borleis, Curtis Zingg

(Why Roz’s progress is not shown)


  • Hello Roz.

    Speaking of regular readers — I just wanted to surface for a moment, and let you know that although I have not been actively posting on your comments section — I HAVE been, and DO check your blog daily — since “way back when”.

    Keep up the good work, and know that many supportive vibes are coming your way, even if sometimes unseen — for surely, there are others besides myself, who quietly stay tuned to your fabulous quest and adventure.

    Steady as she goes.

    With much love and grace,

    Markus Bennett  (Uncle of Eleanor)


  • Roz, posted the petition on my FB page, and will do so frequently during the day … just signed using my third email address … interesting that my signature was #1,700 … and one of my friends here in Sacramento is #1,701 … she wrote “don’t be a plastic addict.”

    Glad you saw the crescent.  I did too and thought of you.

    Enjoy moon-rowing, Roz!

    • same here…its on facebook and our village blog…we are hoping to become a plastic bag free zone. It is a struggle , but worth a go ūüôā
      David Church

    • All of this talk of crescent moons has got me singing the old Waterboys song ‘The Whole of the Moon’ on some sort of continuous loop. Most bizarre. Quite apt, though.

  • I did manage to sign your petition while flying across Belgium by train on the way to Amsterdam. I was 1700 and something so several signed between UncaDoug and I. Looks like you plea is helping. I’m not sure producing millions of organic cotton bags is a good idea though. Organic cotton uses about 50% more water than regular cotton to produce and since most is produced in water scarce regions that increase in water use can have serious social and environmental impacts. There is not time to get into a philosphical discussion about cotton, but I think we need to focus on getting people to carry their own reusable bags. We can discuss the idea more when you “land.’

    Good to hear you are making progress again.

    Row Roz Row

  • Despite our occasional other philosophical differences, this is an area that I think John Kay and I would totally agree on … the need for “education” in changing people’s behaviors.¬† When our local grocery stores starting “pushing” reusable bags several years ago, there was resistance (or maybe it was just passivity) from the local community.¬† Then the stores started selling really neat reusable bags for $1 a piece, and some stores even gave a 10 cent discount for each bag reusable bag you brought in.¬† People also found that the reusable bags were good for hundreds of other purposes (taking things to the beach, or on picnics, or for bringing books back from the public library, or just shopping in general), and slowly but surely the bags found their way into our daily lives.¬† I now have piles of these bags, in my car and home, and they’re an invaluable part of my life.¬† Getting people to make these changes is a slow process, and at first (for some psychological reasons known only to Freud and Maslow and Jung and other famous psychologists) people would often rather spend weeks arguing with you why they “can’t” change themselves, as opposed to taking an hour or so and making the changes.¬† But I guess that our resistance to things like this goes to the heart of our need for “security”, and feelings of “control over our environment” and things like that.¬† My recommendation to anyone who is still using plastic bags in grocery stores is DON’T go cold turkey.¬† DON’T tell yourself that you are giving up plastic completely.¬† The thought will be too scary.¬† Instead, just buy one reusable bag (or maybe two) and start using it.¬† See what happens.¬† You may decide that you actually like it.¬† And although these kinds of conversations often begin with a sentence like “We need government regulations that will …..”, the truth is that we may NOT need government regulations to regulate all these things.¬† People, in many ways, are copy-cats, and when they see other people doing things, they will start doing the things themselves.¬† So, buy one reusable bag, and start being a role model in your local community.¬† Use the bag for other things, and see how much you enjoy not having piles of plastic lying around your house.¬† Realize that changing “other” people’s behavior, begins with YOU changing YOUR behavior.¬† And remember … be gentle with yourself, and with the people around you.¬† We’re all human, and we’re all on this planet together.¬†¬† ūüôā

    • In the United States of America where I live there are already too many laws.¬† Let love and¬† common sense prevail.¬†¬†¬† Stephen Stewart

  • Hi Roz,

    All the best wishes from The OLD PULTENEY Row To The Pole.

    As ocean rowers the efforts to achieve the unimaginable are simple, good planning and a hard days work at the oars.  

    Good luck with the Ban The Bag project.  We are rooting for you.

    Rowers in the Arctic are thinking of you.

  • Thrift stores and garage sales often have many duffels and backpacks. Imho, reusing these make a tad less of a footprint. Although, I have noticed that I don’t get asked out as much anymore at the lettuce (alone:) isle.
    Want another feel gooder? Foster Homes emancipate their youths on their 18th birthday. Often with their belongings in plastic trash bags. Shop for good rolling luggages and soft packable duffels and donate to your local orphanage. The smaller children could use swimwear, flip-flops and beach towels now that it is summer time. Have a better summer!
    Remember, to send good vibes in Roz’s direction upon your sunset on Saturday, August 13. Row Roz Row
    I am having difficulty posting links from youtube (not sure)
    If you really, really miss her…
    go to youtube and search “Roz Plastic Oceans” for a little known video she did for the upcoming movie, just before she set out. !
    Row Roz Row!

  • Thrift stores and garage sales often have many duffels and backpacks. Imho, reusing these make a tad less of a footprint. Although, I have noticed that I don’t get asked out as much anymore at the lettuce (alone:) isle.
    Want another feel gooder? Foster Homes emancipate their youths on their 18th birthday. Often with their belongings in plastic trash bags. Shop for good rolling luggages and soft packable duffels and donate to your local orphanage. The smaller children could use swimwear, flip-flops and beach towels now that it is summer time. Have a better summer!
    Remember, to send good vibes in Roz’s direction upon your sunset on Saturday, August 13. Row Roz Row
    I am having difficulty posting links from youtube (not sure)
    If you really, really miss her…
    go to youtube and search “Roz Plastic Oceans” for a little known video she did for the upcoming movie, just before she set out. !
    Row Roz Row!

  • Jim and Edna are both mental patients. One day Jim jumps into the swimming pool but, doesn’t come up for air. Quick as a flash, Edna sees her friend in trouble, so dives in and pulls him out. Later, the hospital director calls Edna into his office and sayes ‘Edna, I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news is, we are releasing you as you are obviously sane ‘saving anothers life’. But unfortunately, the bad news is that Jim hanged himself in the bathroom …’ “Oh no” Edna replies, “that’s where I put him to dry!”

    Row Roz Row!

  • I am having difficulties with posting on Disqus on Roz’s blog. I apologize for the second post as “guest” on the Thrift store post above, It was I(with head hung low). It was in reply to Rico’s post about re-usable bags.

    “Never ruin a good apology with an excuse of any kind ūüôā ”

    I have several Roz Reusable Blue bags available (see her ebay store) here; with shipping and handling free if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area/Sacramento/South Lake Tahoe.

    Undoubtedly, It will be available¬†for her to¬†sign when she gets¬†back into a Northern California¬†port. (Maybe donate ahead of time:) hint hint hint…

    I kind of like the¬†poetic cadence of “First Woman to Row the Big Three,¬†just one tug at a time, little¬†‘ole me, Roz Savage” ūüôā yup that’s what I am having her write on mine!

    Row Roz Row


  • Replying to Eric:

    Short of getting my dog Stout to sign, I had my daughter sign and even my ex signed, as well as many friends.

    I just leave the screen up on my laptop at the coffee shop and when I see a friend…

    Surely we can use today’s social media to help out. Even one forwarded email mite eventually be the “tipping point” if it hits the right person or people. … Please share, it is time sensitive enough!

    Thanks to Maggy Frias of Oceana for re-posting! I will re-post on Plastic Pollution Coalition also. I pointed SurfRider fans in this direction yesterday. I hope some of them go a tad further and click on it too! 

    Row Roz Row


  • Hey, Roz! Well, we put down earnest money on a 4-acre place. Trying to get used to that idea.

    Our friend Jeremy is going to be in the Oxford area for an academic conference. He says that crowd is kind of stodgy. Do you happen to know any fun folks in that area? Someone with an interest in vintage Italian bicycles would be a super plus bonus.

    Joan in Atlanta

  • Hi Roz,¬†
    I enjoy reading your posts and replies, and today I introduced a young woman, Simone, to your expedition, and she was quite amazed. She is a cashier at a local hardware store. As I unwrapped part of my purchase to use the purchased instead of plastic bags, I learned from her that she is planning to enter a program of environmental studies in university.  She was quite intrigued by your taking up oars.  I feel very fortunate to be able to share my experience and admiration with folks like Simone.    

    Using recyclable bags is a great way to start the process of shifting our attitudes, and the discussion of cotton bags has merit. While the water demand placed by growing organic cotton is higher, I think likely that shifting attitudes towards organic varieties will in fact generate many other benefits, such as reducing dependence upon 1st world designed herbicides, fertilizers, and the like, as well as fostering and affirming many of the traditional farming practices that have developed over long periods of time within those regions. ¬† When there ¬†is opportunity to collaborate with local farmers both groups learn, and greater understanding and appreciation is developed. ¬†Greg Mortenson demonstrated that in his first book,” Three cups of tea”, and his efforts to foster a positive environment for children, both girls and boys. ¬†His persistent effort is commendable, and the impact will affect generations in ¬†very positive manner because the children set their goals, often in response to their village’s needs. ¬† ¬†

    Developing our own practices of sustainability requires a sense of vision, purpose, and identification with a larger concern.  Your example creates awe, marvel and sometimes bewilderment, because when I talk about your current efforts people are intrigued and gently confronted with a new awareness. Our actions have far-reaching consequences.  Thank you for your efforts, and I will continue to talk about the vocation which you have undertaken with a sense of pride and kinship in concern for our planet and our profound impact upon our home, nest , and source of the stuff of life.

    Norm of the prairies

    • Norm of the prairies, you and I and thousands others do the same thing … we mention Roz with admiration and kinship to total strangers. We may never know who is reading this blog, but I feel confident that each of us brings new followers … and some speak up … just a few days ago one of my friends who I met at a meeting of a handful of people from across the country wrote to Roz that she mentioned Roz when her middle school charges began to complain while on a hike … a good year after the fact … the ripples spread.

      About water and organic cotton … it just now occurred to me that Stan’s concern about using water is valid … but also doesn’t the water continue in the water cycle after it has acted as a sort of catalyst to bind the minerals of the soil and the carbon in the atmosphere into a fiber … the water continues on the cycle and eventually returns to help create more organic fiber … over and over. ¬†The drawback of using more water for agriculture and industry is when it depletes the fossil water aquifers, or when it diverts water from human consumption. An interesting trade off … I would like Stan and others to keep this discussion going … even if Stan is on holiday in Amsterdam … hope you are having a great time, Stan.


  • In my local area most all the grocery stores and some other stores too, have a container to accept plastic bags for recycling.¬† They also have racks of reusable bags for sale.¬† I may have made a mistaken assumption that this is so everywhere.¬† Wondering if this is so in the rest of the world.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Cheers,¬† Stephen

  • Decades ago there was a magazine in California called Clear Creek.¬† In it I read,
    Turn off the lights, in the silence of your darkened home you can hear a thousand rivers whispering their thanks.
    Referring of course to the fish who bumped his or her head on the dam dam.

  • Roz, this time yesterday, there were 1,700 signatures. At this moment there are 1,784 (+2 in the past few minutes as I typed my comment to Norm of the prairies). Some interesting¬†comments accompany the signatures:

    Mark:¬†What a marvellous idea and cause! Easy to implement and significant results.¬†Please, Mr Mayor, you are conscious of environmental issues, support the London Olympics being plastic bag free. (1777)Ailbhe:¬†Why is a plastic bag ban deemed too controversial or difficult in London but not in Italy?¬†¬†C’mon London!¬†(1769)

    A Patel: I work for LOCOG and whole heartedly support this campaign. We should not pander to sponsor demands, they are already getting plenty for their buck. (1765)

    Abigail of Virginia: I was in London in July and the huge amount of plastic bags littering the Embankment area and around the Eye was gross. Perhaps London should think about being plastic bag free all the time! (1764)

    Mathieu: We really need to rid the world of plastic waste. Our oceans need our help. (1758)

    Jennifer:¬†We are already making a difference in the Maldives with our Tiny Island Volunteers group, surely this would be a much easier proposition in London. Come on, it’s not rocket science, we GIVE all our volunteers and local people cotton bags and it is really making a difference on the islands.¬†You have the chance as ONE MAN to make a difference, you don’t need millions of signatures just make the decision and DO IT!¬†(1746)

    Celia of Surrey: Time to end the plastic bag culture! If you could only see for yourself the appalling and cruel damage that plastic bags do to ocean wildlife such as turtles, and to land animals, you would not hesitate to have a complete ban on them for the Olympics. Cotton souvenir bags, selling at GBP 1 or less, would be excellent publicity for London. Plastic bags would only give London a negative image. So please be brave and go for the London Olympics Bag project. Grab this chance to lead the world! Thank you (1760)

    Deborah of Canberra:¬†The Australian Capital territory is introducing new legilsation in September 2011 to ban disposable plastic bags.¬†¬†C’mon London if you want to hold the best Olympic ever make it plastic bag-free! In the Olympic spirit aim higher, please!¬†(1733)

    Martha of California: This would send an incredible message to the world -as well as lessening the potential trash mess. (1727)

    Judith of London: It would be good to make _this_ the legacy of the games Рa better world for future generations (1707)

    Just to share a few … I think I recognize some names ;-D

    Row gratified, Roz!

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