From an environmental campaign group to an all-female sailing expedition investigating plastic pollution, four projects pioneering the response to the ocean plastic problem
This piece is part of our Hope 100 series, telling the stories of the people and organisations creating hope for 2020 and beyond
#11 City to Sea
Like so many good ideas, City to Sea was conceived down the pub. Five years later, its founder, Natalie Fee, leads a team of 20 environmentalists, who campaign against single-use plastics. Based in Bristol, the community interest company successfully lobbied major retailers to stop selling plastic cotton buds. Now it is campaigning for women to “rethink their periods” and choose sustainable alternatives to the estimated 4.3bn menstrual products that are thrown away annually.
#12 Ocean Cleanup Foundation
On a 2013 diving holiday in Greece, Dutch inventor Boyan Slat – then a teenager – was horrified to see more plastic in the sea than fish. He went on to found the Ocean Cleanup Foundation with the audacious remit of ridding the ocean of plastic. He developed an autonomous system to filter plastic from the sea and successfully deployed a prototype in 2019, followed later in the year by a system to stop plastic entering the sea via rivers.
In October an all-female sailing crew left Plymouth to investigate the causes and solutions to plastic pollution at sea. The two-year, around-the-world eXXpedition mission will be broken down into 30 legs and welcome aboard a total of 300 women, all of whom work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It is hoped those taking part will use the experience they gain to drive positive change in their respective fields.
#14 Surfers Against Sewage
SAS began life in 1990 as a single-issue campaign: to make waters off the UK coast cleaner. Back then, just 27 per cent of the UK’s 636 designated bathing beaches had a water quality classification of excellent, good, or sufficient; it’s now around 98.5 per cent. Since cleaning up sewage, the group has set its sights on ocean plastic pollution. It organises beach cleans, raises awareness on the impact of single-use plastics and helps people understand how to go without them.
Main Image: Ocean Cleanup Foundation