Plastic Blues Expedition is an around-the-globe sailing expedition designed as a low carbon footprint, zero waste and nonprofit research and education project. We aim to gather scientifically-relevant data on plastic pollution, and other environmental issues, provide a research platform for students and researchers with minimal charge, carry out environmental education and promote sustainable living. Our work does not focus exclusively on plastic pollution of the oceans, but on plastics overconsumption, unsustainable lifestyle and pollution in general. Donors, interns, volunteers and other supporters are welcome to partake in the expedition as well.
The expedition will take place onboard a 120-foot expedition ketch called Infinity, scheduled to set sail in September 2020 from Amsterdam. Infinity has been sailing global oceans for over a decade and has been involved in numerous environmental projects and expeditions. Her captain Clemens Oestreich is a true environmentalist and a seawolf with decades of sailing experience under his belt. Infinity has 28 beds in 12 rooms and plenty of social space, a large galley, two toilets, one inside shower and one deck shower. She is also fully equipped for scuba diving, including a compressor, dive dinghy, tanks, CBDs, wetsuits, and other dive equipment. Click here for more information on Infinity.
The expedition will have two main components: SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH and EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH.
Due to plastics overconsumption, plastic pollution of the oceans and land has reached the top of the list of environmentally relevant issues in the last few years. Proportionally, research effort has greatly intensified. However, there are still countless questions that remain unanswered. As a part of the research component of the expedition, we will carry out several studies of our interest, as well as host researchers and students from various universities and research institutes. Research conducted by our team will primarily focus on human behaviour with respect to plastic consumption, disposal and pollution. Hosted projects this year will have to include plastic pollution component as well.
Science is sometimes a crucial game-changer. Without research and scientific evidence, it is difficult to change laws and legislation to protect the environment from unwanted human impacts.
Plastic pollution has been studied in the marine environment extensively. However, much less research has been focused on why and how plastic pollution happens, by studying the less tangible aspect of it, such as littering and dumping behaviour, consumer purchasing and waste disposal behaviour, and importance of behavioural change. So, the primary aim of our study is to fill the knowledge gap on consumer behaviour of the peoples of island countries, with respect to plastic consumption, pollution and prevention. We will collect the data by conducting a survey in island communities. The study is exploratory and descriptive in nature and we do not anticipate any particular results, especially since there is no prior information based on which we could make valid assumptions and have expectations. Our results will be used to advance the existing and tailor the non-existing legislation around the use of single-use plastic products, on either local or regional scale, as well as revise school curriculum for environmental education.
Along with the study on consumer behaviour, we also plan to carry out beach surveys and analyse environmental samples for microplastics, assess local waste management, and open burning and dumping practices. Onboard Infinity, there is a lab designated area, equipped with lab glassware, dissection tools, filtering system and a microscope. There is also a plankton net of different mesh sizes for collecting surface water samples. And as mentioned before, we have a fully equipped scuba diving setup.
Science Residency Program
Our Science Residency Program is what makes our Expedition unique. We offer an opportunity for students and researchers to do their own research onboard Infinity, whether it is a part of their undergraduate or postgraduate studies, or a part of their job, or just a curiosity-driven side project. Research topic does not necessarily have to be on plastic pollution, but it should have an environmental component and the sampling locations should be on our planned sailing route. Interdisciplinary projects, combining natural and social sciences, are welcome. Infinity is fully equipped for scuba diving, and underwater studies are encouraged. Guest researchers are welcome to use all our equipment. Students and researchers are responsible for sorting out the ethics permits, appropriate visas, medical check, police check and, if needed, sampling equipment. We strongly believe that research opportunities should be more accessible to researchers and that is why we offer it free of charge. We also highly encourage students from Small Island Developing States and Pasifika students to apply. The duration of an applicant’s stay will be determined by the requirements of their study, but between 10 to 60 days is recommended.
Applications will be open on 1 June 2020. To find more information about application requirements, visit the Opportunities page.
Another important element of the expedition is the Educational Outreach. Along with science and policy, education is an imperative for generating positive change. Advocacy and active campaigning, workshops, public lectures, story sharing via media, and other ways of informing a wider audience are included in our educational program. We are planning to work with local nonprofits and governments and engage educators from various sectors, as well as collaborate with other nonprofits working on tackling plastic pollution and hosting their educators on our expedition.
If you want to get involved, contact Ana at firstname.lastname@example.org