2017 and The Plastic Project

We’re entering our fourth year with The Plastic Project. The first two were amazing, the project grew and I got to talk to some special people about plastic and adventures which really began to inspire others. The last year has been the most challenging of my life, trying to change an idea into a self sustaining entity that can grow into a format which is  successful. I’ve talked to a lot of people, met some incredible people across many industries, become an ambassador for The 5 Gyres Institute, and put a plan together for next year; a plan that has teetered on impossible for months.

An Indian man stands amidst left over eatables and plastic waste, near the Arabian Sea waters at the Juhu Chowpaty in Mumbai.

The beauty of what we have been doing is working. The hunch that images speak louder than stats, and that getting in front of people with the tales and imagery which inspire is proving to be bang on. What is more, we have really only just begun. I can say “we”and mean more than just me as well, as we now have a number of volunteers helping out; with  travel logistics and co-ordinating talks and the workshops being put together for schools.

So next year, it’s a three tier mission of pure adventure, which I hope will inspire billions to change their ways.


The Travel

I have been to some of the remotest beaches on Earth in the last few years, and I haven’t found one, not one, without plastic on it. Let that sink in for a moment. We’re talking places where absolutely no one goes, yet the human race has left its mark. Now we’re going to push this to the limit: St Kilda, Spitzbergen, Ascension, The Falklands and Antarctica, to mention just a few places. It’s a critical component of the project, it’s the part that engages and inspires. Currently the visual evidence from the remotest parts of the planet is lacking, but as our worldwide team builds our open source plastic map, this will soon be put right.


The Education

This comes in three ways: delivering presentations in schools, at clubs festivals and talking to business representatives. We have a great new 30 minute talk with films and adventure. Project staff are really excited by this and we already have a lot scheduled, especially for the first six months. This year has been incredibly difficult being able to afford to get to a number of gatherings, but 2017 is going to be a different matter. We are also working on a workshop which will be available to primary schools in the UK and USA. This is really exciting as it gives the kids a real hands on opportunity to work with the information we provide, facilitating the creation of their own films and articles around the project. Finally we are, as you’ve probably seen, creating an open source map with a band of ambassadors across the globe. The idea being that anyone with internet can pull this up, and see photos and film of the problem first hand; no stats, no anecdotal evidence, just the real thing. This is a problem that is going to take at least a generation to reverse. Even if we stopped using plastic today, we’d still be picking it up off beaches in a century.


The Solutions

The human race is rubbish, and it’s sad to say that. This has become particularly true in the last sixty years; we have simply put profit above everything else. I am no hippy, I know making a living is vital, but we have to look at the big picture, and put simply we are killing our world. Climate change, unsustainable economic and population growth, habitat loss and marine pollution are all adding to the demise of our world. We must look at short term and longer term solutions to reverse this.

Short Term – we all have to pick up rubbish wherever we see it, the beach obviously, but also on the street, in the countryside, anywhere, it is all on a pathway to the ocean. We wholeheartedly support the 2minute beachclean and Surfers Against Sewage here in the UK, and are kicking off our own wilderness beachcleans here as well. Then there are those of us already enlightened who are cutting out plastic, especially single use items, water bottles and coffee cups etc. and then of course recycling everything we have to use.

Medium Term – to support companies which are actively changing the way they do business to accommodate the reduction of non-essential plastic. There are loads out there, and as consumers we have the power more than anyone else to force a change. Actually purchasing power is a lot stronger than legislation.

Long Term – changing to a whole new plastic economy. Plastic as a whole is not bad, but there are better alternatives and where there are none we need to plan the end of life of a product or item into its design. This circular economy is being championed by the likes of the Ellen McCarthur Foundation, which we’re stoked to be working with, and it really is the long term answer to our plastic problems.

So the plan –

  1. Explore and distribute using our map.
  2. To educate the whole world.
  3. To lead by example and pick up discarded plastic, change business methods and move towards an economy where plastic is still a part, but the end of life is fully considered.

If we don’t? We kill the ocean and we all die, it’s that simple, there is still time though, so let’s start making a change, and help support all those other groups of worthy people doing the same thing.

As always if you’d like to help you can here – HELP US – If everyone who read this blog put a £1 in, we’d be able to visit every school we have been invited to this year and spread the word.

One thought on “2017 and The Plastic Project”

  1. May you go from strength to strength in 2017 Tim and all the team. Best wishes from Jo and all at Polzeath Marine Conservation Group and Centre – see you in spring 🙂

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