eXXpedition ambassador Rachel Labbé-Bellas shares how her eXXpedition experience has lead her to fight the challenge of plastic pollution on shore:
“In 2015, I was invited to participate on eXXpedition Amazon. Our mission was to make the unseen seen, from the toxics in our bodies to the toxics in our seas – sailing from Brazil to Guyana aboard the Sea Dragon for 21 days.
As a marine biologist and ocean advocate, I became obliged to join the fight of plastic pollution in our oceans. Upon return from this voyage, I had an idea and started to stencil it down. Fired up with determination and passion, I created The Green Stop – your one-stop shop refill station for your on-the-go needs in outdoor spaces!
At this time, I was working as a Research Assistant at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and I realized that I could help create change starting at my own workplace. I started pitching this concept internally at Staff for Sustainability Network, then onto winning pitches at Triton Innovation Challenge in 2017 and Entrepreneur Challenge in the Impact Tech Track in 2018.
I moved back to my hometown of Montreal in mid-2018 with this concept still in mind – determined to make it a real thing. After all, my closest family and friends are here and I knew that my home city would be able to offer me so much support. They also all came out and supported me as the Boat Lead in our region for the eXXpedition Great Lakes event back in 2016 – organized by the first eXX filmmaker, Jennifer Pate and her team.
Starting 2019 with full force in Montreal, I enrolled in a startup incubator program and recently graduated as a Founder Institute grad. With the company structure all set-up, I was able to secure my first customer and am in the process of validating the first prototypes at one of the city’s largest festivals called Osheaga! This is not just a regular company – but a social and environmental enterprise that aims to transform the way we use single-use plastics in outdoor spaces. Starting with outdoor festivals, we will provide water refill stations to reduce or eliminate single-use plastic bottles.
At Osheaga this summer, we can expect to save a minimum of 60,000 bottles from entering our waste stream and/or ending up in our oceans and water ways.
To think, all this started while sailing 200 miles offshore with a group of women who I had just met – trusting one another with our actions & words. The courage I had to go out on that voyage, is really the spark that I needed to propel me into entrepreneurship and female leadership. Time is now. And I am not wasting a minute.
I am currently crowdfunding for $25,000 to execute the trial season. Watch my video below and please support in any way you can and share with your friends! You can find more information on how you can help on the crowdfunding page here.”