With 10 weeks to go before I arrive on board SV Traveledge to begin my part of the voyage with Exxpedition - things are getting mighty exciting!
Exxpedition is the women only round the world sailing voyage, researching ocean plastics. A huge undertaking - 2 years - 30 voyages - 300 women - 38,000 nautical miles.
The idea, brainchild of @EmilyPenn, is to source a multidiciplinary group of women, from all walks of life - from scientists, to educators, to activists, to policy makers, to, like myself - toy manufacturers. The thinking is that it will take a multi-faceted, holistic and joined up approach for us to have a chance to come up with solutions.
And yes, it's women only - why? Several reasons, but primarily because micro-plastics are hormone disruptors - and these are having a particular impact on women's health. Microplastics have now also been shown to cross the placenta. Whether we like it or not, these plastics are passing onto the next generation in more ways than one. Also key is to celebrate women in STEM and exploration. Making the unseen seen!
To be invited to be part of this project is the biggest honour.
My leg is to take place at the end of April as I will join the ship on the Cook Islands, and from there sail to the Kingdom of Tonga. On board we are responsible for a whole lot of science, trawling the oceans to sample what plastics we find, on the surface, below the waves, and in coastal sediments. The samples we collect are both analysed on board and shipped off for key research that is being undertaken across the world in various universities.
From my perspective, being a toy manufacturer, I am hugely aware of the vast amounts of plastic that exist in the toy industry. Approximately 80% of all toys on the market are made of plastic and imported from China. All of these exist in a linear economy, toys that are manufactured from virgin materials - of petrochemical origin - are sold to consumers, and are finally destined for landfill - or are part of the plastics that eventually end up in the sea.
It is estimated that 8 million tonnes of plastic are discarded into our oceans, and that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish. Yes, the vast majority will not necessarily be toys - but it is guaranteed that these bright plastic playthings do play a part in degradation of our oceans and our environment.
As a response to this - and inspired both by EXXpedition and the @Ellen McArthur Foundation for Circular Economy, we've developed our Bubble Toys for Hire - with the idea that our already eco, ethical toys can be entered in to a Circular Economy - to be used again and again. This has an added positive bonus of creating a business model that is eminently viable - with one outlay providing repeated income for any resellers.
With the voyage now coming closer, I have been pushing my fundraising efforts – and this is where the exciting news comes in as some fabulous sponsors come on board! My first sponsor is @Babipur Home of Ethical Shopping for Kids.
Babipur is the leading UK seller of eco and ethical baby, children’s and family ware. They are also, like us based in stunning North Wales, and a fabulous company to work with. They have just commissioned this beautiful #fairtrade bag, printed by the amazing artist Callie Jones – and have incredibly generously offered £1 from the sale of each bag towards my Exxpedition and time on the boat. They will also be sponsoring me with some fab zero waste toiletries and plastic free period products – and I’m really looking forward to sharing news about these with you too!
So, watch this space, and how by talking, acting and getting involved we too can help change our world.
If you would like to support me with @EXXpedition you can do so on my #GoFundMe Page here: https://www.gofundme.com/manage/Campaign-to-end-ocean-microplastics-pollution