Making the unseen, seen

Out of sight and mind for most of us, there are countless ‘unseens’ when it comes to ocean plastic and toxic pollution – from the tiny scale of microplastics to the vast ocean they pollute.

Founders Emily Penn and Lucy Gilliam were curious to know if chemicals associated with plastic were hidden inside their bodies too, as Emily’s early research missions revealed that plastic was entering the food chain.

Emily tested herself for 35 chemical pollutants, all banned by the UN because they are toxic to humans, and 29 were found in her blood. 

“I had my blood tested, and of 35 chemicals we tested for, I had 29 of them inside my body.”

Some of these chemicals are carcinogens, which increase the risk of developing other life-threatening diseases; and many are endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruptors mimic hormones, and stop important chemical messages moving around our bodies. For women, this can pose a particular problem during pregnancy. And these chemicals can then be passed on to babies in the womb, and through breastfeeding. 

Joining the dots between plastic, the ocean and ourselves; and motivated by the possible effects of pollutants on female health; this experience was one of the catalysts for eXXpedition’s first voyage in 2014. 

Visible Role Models

Our voyages have made visible the plastic that’s spread to hidden corners of our planet and the many solutions available to tackle it. At the same time, we’ve highlighted ‘unseens’ in other areas too; particularly celebrating the work of women in science, sport, exploration and sailing where women remain unacknowledged and under-represented.

At eXXpedition we’re passionate about addressing the balance through positive role models. Which is why we  gather teams of talented women from all disciplines; to experience the plastic problem, collect data, make connections, and figure out how to tackle it together.

Who can join our voyages?

At eXXpedition we work hard to create a welcoming and friendly environment! Women, transwomen and those who are female-assigned at birth are very welcome on our voyages.

About our name

When we started out in 2013, planning what we thought would be a one-off sailing expedition – with the emphasis on exploring the impact of plastics and toxics in the ocean and their impact on female bodies – the name was a play on words: putting the XX chromosome into ‘expedition’. 

We’ve since become aware of more research around chromosomes, and understand they don’t always follow clear binary patterns, but the name’s gone on to become synonymous with our community and our unique and impactful approach to tackling plastic pollution. 

For further information please see our Equal Opportunities Policy and please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or need clarification on anything.