Day five brought lots of discussion on ways we can help solve the plastics issue impacting the world’s oceans and our local communities. After a long day of doing science, as we continued our sail in the South Pacific from Panama City to the Galapagos Islands, Winnie our Mission Leader, brought the women of Leg 6 together in the saloon to jot down ideas on how best to reduce plastic waste.

After about five minutes, we had more than 50 ideas that we then separated into categories with the final grouping focused on the three levers of change — policy, corporate responsibility and consumer behaviour. Interestingly, nearly 80% of the ideas fell into the policy category. However, as Winnie noted, policy can have the biggest impact but takes the longest to achieve. Bottom line, we need to simultaneously activate the three levers of change in hopes of quickly moving the needle on the plastic pollution crisis.

Leg 6 crew solutions workshop (Photo credit: eXXpedition)

Four of my top ideas were: get money out of politics; make corporations responsible for their packaging; better connect the dots between plastics and climate change; and ban fracking. Other ideas from my fellow crew, now good friends, included: bottle bills; beach clean ups; eat local food or grow your own; ban plastic packaging of fruits and vegetables; redesign products to have less plastic packaging; incentivise businesses to reduce use of plastics; give tax breaks to companies that find sustainable alternatives to plastics; educate more consumers on ways to reduce, reuse and recycle; include environmental and health costs in the true cost of plastics; and raise more awareness on the human health impacts from plastics.

We also discussed how we plan to bring our eXXpedition experience back to our home towns. I’m going to continue working with students at Cleveland’s Davis Aerospace and Maritime High School and The School of One on projects that will reduce single-use plastics in the Cuyahoga River and Central Lake Erie Basin.

Jessica, who lives in London, is going to reach out to leading Fast Fashion brands to encourage the companies to reduce plastic packaging and offer plastic-free clothing options.

Hillary, who lives in Brighton, UK, will focus on the health impacts of plastics, with an initial focus on women.

Sasha, who lives in Galveston, Texas, will work to get her community to better understand how protecting Galveston Bay will help protect the world’s oceans.

Anja, who lives in Fischerhude, Germany, explained how her country is leading the charge on reducing plastic waste. Germany has had a deposit on glass bottles for decades and more recently passed a law that puts a deposit on plastic bottles.

We ended our workshop hopeful that we can all head home after this incredibly unique adventure and inspire our communities to take action on reducing plastic pollution.