Today I can reveal a bit more about my project for this summer. We are calling it TrashMobs – like flash mobs, but more trashy. It is going to involve me traveling around Britain by kayak and bicycle, pulling into a town each night to do a beach cleanup. All will be welcome to join me, and we’ll be publishing a map and schedule on the TrashMobs website – once it exists.
I will also be gathering signatures on an e-petition. Under UK law, if an e-petition gathers at least 100,000 signatures, it is eligible to be debated in the House of Commons. I am still finalising the wording of the petition, with input from a fantastic team of advisers and meetings with government staff, and it will be some form of call to dramatically reduce the amount of single-use plastics ending up in landfill and in the oceans.
The petition wording has been an interesting exercise. There is no point working hard to get the signatures if the petition itself is flawed – for example, if it asks the UK government to impose policies that restrict trade in breach of the Treaty of Rome. I’ve also had to do a lot of research to find out what European Union directives are already in force, because I don’t want to ask the government to do something less than they have already committed to do. So it gets complicated.
At the same time, we are working out my route around the country. For the kayaking legs, we have to find out where there are suitable put-ins and take-outs. For cycling, I’m trying to avoid the worst of the hills! And alongside that we need to make sure that each night I end up somewhere that we can feasibly hold a cleanup of beach or waterway. Luckily, I have exactly the right woman for the job – Jane “Mrs Maps” Hornsby, who was our intrepid navigator for the hike from Big Ben to Brussels in 2009.
The plan at the moment is this:
mid-May to mid-July: kayak up the East Coast from London to John O’Groats
mid-July to mid-August: cycle from John O’Groats to Lands End
mid-August to mid-September: kayak along the South Coast from Lands End back to London
Note: I have applied to Yale for a one-semester postgrad program which would start in August. I will find out in March/April whether or not I have got a place. There is great competition for places, so it is far from certain if I will be one of the lucky few. If I am successful, TrashMobs will take a break and be continued next year.
I have hesitated to reveal to much, too soon. Like many of my grander schemes it has undergone some changes since its conception as I’ve explored the feasibility of both the expedition and campaigning aspects of the project. My ideas tend to be ambitious, which is no bad thing, but then they run slap bang into reality and need some modification in order to stand any chance of success. I thank you for your patience during this process. I will keep you posted just as soon as new developments are ready to be announced.
Meanwhile, I have some things that I will need help with, and would like to put the word out to my wonderful Rozlings. I’m not quite ready to give you all the information you need, but maybe you can start thinking about these things:
For people in (or who have friends in) Britain:
– people to kayak/cycle with me
– people to organise and/or take part in beach cleanups
– signatures on our e-petition (UK residents only)
– accommodation and dinners en route
– people who live on and know the coast to give advice on put-ins, take-outs, tides, mudflats, etc
And things that you can help me with no matter where in the world you are:
– graphic design – I need someone to help devise a logo for TrashMobs. Looking for something fun and eye-catching to go on publicity materials, information packs, website, stickers, etc.
– sorry, but as always, I will need funds. We are trying to raise around £50,000 ($78,000) to cover the cost of PR services, support driver, support vehicle, fuel, food, information packs, and start/finish events. Don’t donate yet – we might be doing a Kickstarter project, and/or I still need to figure out how to reward our supporters. I want to make sure you get something in return. So hold onto your pennies, and await further information!
Watch out later today for a special guest blog on this site from Erin McKittrick of Ground Truth Trekking. It’s a beautifully written piece about her home state of Alaska, and why she and her husband go on epic expeditions to spread awareness and appreciation of its flora and fauna, emphasising how much is at stake if Alaska is allowed to be developed with no regard for its natural beauty and diversity.
An interview with me has just appeared on The Departures Board as part of their Seven Wonders series.
About 2 days after I asked you to vote for Al Humphreys in this year’s People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year award, they closed the voting. Sorry about that! We will now have to wait until the end of February to find out who has won.
Yesterday I went gig rowing here in Calstock, Cornwall. It was all rather strange and new. I was in a skiff, which has three rowers – an odd number, which did indeed seem odd to me. The bow rower (me) has one oar, the stern rower has one oar, and the person in the middle has two. Only the middle rower has buttons on their oars – the bow and stern rowers have to try not to let the oar slide in or out too far, as there is no button to hold it in place in the oarlock. The oar is round, not square, where it passes through the oarlock, which is also round – so the rower has to control the squaring and feathering much more than I am accustomed to. You hold the oar handle with the outside hand palm up, and the inside hand palm down. You pull the handle into your armpit rather than your rib cage. And there is no sliding seat, just a bench. Overall, I enjoyed it, but some aspects of it did seem gratuitously difficult. I am a big fan of squarish oars in squarish oarlocks. It saves a lot of strain on the forearms. But whatever its quirks, it was a seriously good workout. After 15 minutes I was knackered!
These guys show how it should be done. This isn’t a skiff, it’s a gig, I think – but please correct me if I’m wrong.