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Women tackle plastic pollution

British skipper leads all-female research expedition across the North Pacific Gyre, in search of solutions to ocean plastic pollution
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Crossing the finish line of eXXpedition Atlantic. Credit: eXXpedition

Today (25 June), ‘eXXpedition North Pacific’, in collaboration with recycling innovators TOMRA, sets sail from Honolulu, Hawaii on a scientific research mission led by award-winning British skipper and ocean advocate Emily Penn.

The group will investigate solutions to the devastating impact of single-use plastic and toxics in the world’s oceans.

The expedition is made up of a diverse and international group of 24 women from Britain, the USA, Canada, Slovenia, Norway and Honduras.

Women in science

Split over two voyage legs, they will journey for a month over 3,000 nautical miles through the densest ocean plastic accumulation zone on the planet, the North Pacific Gyre – better known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The aim is to raise awareness of the devastating impact of single-use plastic and toxics in the world’s oceans, while at the same time championing and contributing to innovative scientific research to tackle the crisis.

The expedition will celebrate women in science, leadership and adventure, an create a community of female changemakers and inspiring global ambassadors to tackle plastic pollution and its environmental and health impacts.

‘Bold, exciting and innovative science into ocean plastic and toxics is at the heart of all eXXpedition voyages. This year, we are seeing a shift in scientific focus. Scientists still want to know how much plastic is out there and where it is, but they also want to know which toxic chemicals are on the surface of it, whether organisms are growing on it and what the impacts might be on wildlife, and on us.’

Mission leader and co-founder of eXXpedition

Science at sea

The crew will conduct daily trawls for plastics and pollutants, and collect data for a variety of global datasets and scientific research studies along the way. The information will be used to support scientists in the UK, Canada, Switzerland and the USA, including conservation organisation Ocean Wise in Canada and the Hawaii Pacific University.

Studies range in focus from understanding the impact of plastic pollution on sea turtle environments to microplastics and the impact of toxics carried on plastic on our bodies.

Inspiring changemakers

In the four years since the first eXXpedition voyage across the Atlantic, 86 exceptional women have sailed on missions all over the world. They’ve created their own narratives about plastics and toxics, using their specific skills and their eXXpedition experience.

These eXXpedition Ambassadors have gone on to give inspirational talks, organise plastic-free community projects, implement plastic policies within their organisations, campaign for better legislation, release impactful films and create inspiring ocean plastic artworks.

The eXXpedition crew will be sailing Sea Dragon, a 72ft scientific exploration vessel (owned by Pangaea Exploration) from Oahu, Hawaii to Vancouver, British Columbia (25 June – 14 July 2018) and then from Vancouver to Seattle (21 July – 28 July 2018), where the journey will end.

All costs of the expedition are covered by crew contributions and the generosity of mission sponsors. Many of our sponsors, in particular TOMRA, are involved in pioneering initiatives to tackle plastic pollution around the world.

Click here to add your name to the call for supermarkets to introduce a plastic-free aisle.

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