This article was written by Anna Cummins

“LAND mommy, LAND!!!!” Even Avani, our youngest crew member picks up on the excitement as we pull into the sparkling turquoise waters of Cape Eleuthera. All 25 of our crew cluster at the edge of the boat, waving and shouting to the crowd of people awaiting us.

Source: 5 Gyres

Source: 5 Gyres

We’ve just completed the first leg of our 2015 SEA Change Expedition – a short 2 days at sea kicked off by an awesome sendoff from Surfrider Miami. Part research, and part “Plastic Pollution Solutions Workshop” afloat. This is what we’ve dreamed our expeditions could be like.

We’ve done now 14+ expeditions across the gyres, bringing a diverse cross section of people on board – scientists, journalists, artists, educators, and CEOs, to roll up their sleeves with us, help with plastic pollution research, and then go back to inspire their communities.

Jack Johnson. (Image: 5 Gyres)

Jack Johnson. (Image: 5 Gyres)

We have an absolutely amazing group of people on board, with a ton of shared expertise to share. Headlining the group is Jack Johnson, who sailed from Miami to the Bahamas, joined our Youth Summit, and is heading on to Bermuda for leg two of the expedition;

  • Celine Cousteau shared a powerful film about a rescue mission cutting a 500 pound net bolus off of a humpback whale’s fin, as well as highlights from her work in the Amazon with Causecentric;
  • Michael Brown, founder of Packaging 2.0, gave an overview of PET recycling – his company produces 100% recycled, food grade plastic packaging. A major takeaway: when recovered properly, PET can be recycled indefinitely without losing its integrity or function;
  • Josh Resnikoff, founder of Cuppow, shared his journey starting a company to eliminate single use disposable waste with a top for mason jars – instant coffee/food/beverage container;
  • Ryan Martin, PhD, who sailed with us on last year’s Viking Gyre expedition, is a wealth of information on the chemistry of plastics, and is working on developing new forms of bioplastics. His scientific expertise on plastics is invaluable, and we grilled him with questions for a good hour;
  • David Stover from Bureo Skateboards: he and his partners started a company to deal with the global problem of destructive fishing gear. Nets lost by fishermen at sea wreak havoc on marine ecosystems. Bureo established incentives for fishermen in Chile to retrieve lost nets, and then recycle them back into pellets to produce skateboards – with more product applications in the works;
Josh Resnikoff, David Stover and Lauren Singer. (Image: 5 Gyres)

Josh Resnikoff, David Stover and Lauren Singer. (Image: 5 Gyres)

  • Lauren Singer can fit her last 2 years of waste into a single mason jar. Her project Trash is for Tossers details her journey to live lightly, and start an eco friendly company in the process.  She makes her own toothpaste, laundry detergent, deodorant, everything really, and swears by its effects – cheaper and healthier;
  • Amy Halman from Acure shared her company’s quest to produce personal care products using organic, non-toxic ingredients, including a non-plastic exfoliating scrub;
  • Joan Hall, an artist from Rhode Island, shared her mixed media work featuring a plastic pollution exhibit made from found objects
  • Michael De Fillipo, who joined at the 11th hour after a crewmember had passport issues. Michael raced home from the Surfrider party, packed his bags, and 12 hours later set sail with us. He turns out to be a one man policy force in Florida, driving plastic bag and polystyrene bans in a state not necessarily known for its enviro-leadership;

Tomorrow morning the next crew sets sail for Bermuda, were excited to see this next group of change makers come together to collaborate and share solutions – stay tuned!

(This article originally appeared on 5 Gyres. It has been reprinted here with permission.)

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