Spread your sails, race around the world and turn the tide on plastic: Volvo ocean race environmental team
On Sunday 24th (June, last weekend) , after 9months at sea, the Volvo ocean race came to an end, with arrival in Den Haag.
Quickly, for those interested but are not avid sailors, The Volvo race is a 45000nautical mile race around the world, consisting of 11 legs, where boats get points according to finishing positions of each leg. It is pretty intense, with 24 hours a day sailing in some pretty treacherous conditions, and this makes it one of the top 3 sailing competitions.
Those of you who know me, know that I am passionate about sailing and super happy about boats, so I am happy to say that I was lucky enough to go to the finish line to watch it happen. While I had some issues with the rigidity of the organisation of the event itself (perhaps more to do with the Dutch way than the Volvo itself..). But I won’t divulge too much on the winners, or the ceremony, or the sailing itself. But I will tell you how this year race contributed to raise environmental awareness and particular about two interesting teams, which not only endured this long race around the world but also actively contributed to marine conservation.
Firstly, this year race website features a sustainability page. Check it out here.
They are being careful reducing their footprint on ocean villages at host cities, by reducing plastic, monitoring energy, sourcing sustainable food..and provided a very interesting guide on how to turn the tide on plastic at sporting events (downloadable here), nice idea! For example, they had eco plaza sponsoring their plastic free aisle (at the moment only in their Amsterdam store, hopefully more to come), had plastic cups made from plant plastic etc...
They also aim to leave a legacy with their science project.
From their website “ Over the course of the 45,000 nautical mile (83,000 km) route, the teams will gather meteorological and oceanographic data as they race through parts of the globe that are often inaccessible to the world’s climate scientists.
The Science Programme is being made possible thanks to the support of Volvo Cars, Kiel Cluster of Excellence - The Future Ocean, our sustainability partners and a scientific consortium including NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), JCOMMOPS (UNESCO-IOC), GEOMAR and SubCtech.It is comprised of three elements:
Firstly, all of the racing yachts will send 36 data points back to race control every 10 seconds including temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction. This data will be passed on to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts. Where it will contribute to more accurate weather forecasts and climate models.
Secondly, during the four most isolated legs in the race, all seven yachts will carry scientific-drifter buoys equipped with satellite communications equipment to transmit information on ocean composition and currents.
Finally, the Turn the Tide on Plastic team skippered by Dee Caffari, and up to two other boats, will carry instruments onboard to test salinity, dissolved CO2 and Chlorophyll-a (algae) directly in the sea water around them.
These key metrics for ocean health will be logged in addition to test trials for microplastics in order to create a complete snapshot of the world’s oceans.”
Two teams in particular, turn the tide on plastic and vestas aimed to bring environmental awareness to the race.
Both had very informative stands at the ocean village in den Haag and am assuming has similar sort of stands in the other 11 cities where the race has stopped in the last 9 months.
All in all I think more sporty events can learn from this! Looking forward to see more awareness for our surroundings and environment without which we wouldn’t have a ground to do our sports (no sailing without winds, no surf without waves, no canoeing without lakes and rivers, no skiing without snow...)
Last weekend I found myself attending a really interesting presentation of two eco projects that will happen in my area (het oererf and EcoBoz).
Firstly, it was in a stunning location in a renewed barn , hoeve hildernisse, and it was great of them to let this happen.
Now, I have to admit that this was one of the times in which I wished my Dutch was better. I understood around 70% of what was being said so I am satisfied enough, but still, missed some meanings of some question.
Nonetheless.. let’s get to the point of this post!
When we think about eco living we often associate that with a hippy lifestyle disconnected fully from the world. Living off grid, from your land, homeschooling children, sharing everything. And most of us may be scared of the big lifestyle change and might just diss it as something that belongs back to the 60s..
but most of us know, or hope soon will realise, the way we are living right now is not sustainable. Each in our own bubble. In our little apartment where we have our own of everything and yet we need to get food which is mass produced for us. This is not only unhealthy for us and the planet, wasting so much material and energy, but also leading to the increase in mental health and solitude.
so, what comes out of this very informative day is that you can indeed live a bit more sustainably and ethically taking all of the benefits for you and your family without having to turn your whole life upside down
Share more. Whatever it is, meals, books, the washer (and drier if you must use one). Why not create a shared space in your apartment block, where you can for example share tools? Nobody needs that drill everyday, right?
Have dinner with your neighbours sometimes, and if you have some common open space think of growing some of your own. You could grow your own on your windowsill too but make good use of everything your existing apartment block or neighbourhood offers you. Let’s take our spaces back and create a community.
If you have renovations to do think of using sustainable materials- did you know they inventended some hard material made out of aubergine plant? Pretty cool uh! Or what about this project upcycling old material from demolitions? Check van vorden architecture for some examples of beautiful sustainable new builds or why not make your sustainable architecture Pinterest board? Whether you are looking to buy, rent, renovate or just dream...So do your research and try use what best for the environment - stop the plastic and think durability rather than short term price!
Just generally try reconnecting with your surroundings, whether that’s people, or nature. Little steps will take us a long way!
Breaking news, climate is changing indeed and not only temperatures are actually increasing, but recently on scientific news there was a story about hurricanes behaviour changes. Yes, hurricanes are getting sluggish, thus slower, which is not a good thing as they are lingering longer over certain areas. This, coupled with increasing storm frequencies are putting our coasts at very high risks. If we weren’t already thinking about solutions, well, I think we really should!
But how? Reinforcing coastlines can be expensive, and worse, it can be extremely invasive to add even more man made structures and cement our oceans.
Well, there might be a better solution available.
Nature based solutions harness the power of ecosystem ‘engineers’ , those species that by just being can change their surrounding environments. Oysters, mussels, saltmarsh plants, sea grasses, seaweeds, aquatic trees (like mangroves, willow) can all be considered engineers and can all provide some levels of coastal protection.
Of course, they also require certain conditions and may need to be used in combination, as each of them will have different requirements and would be able to withstand different levels of stressors.
Good news! Some large scale research will shortly take place in the Nederland using one of the largest flume existing in Europe - but the researchers need your help. Yes, because the project is still short of some fundings ( flume facilities are expensive....) so a crowfounding has started: you can find more and contribute here www.woodversuswaves.com
Hey all! 100th post today :) how best to celebrate it than by celebrating world ocean day! ?
Just a few days after world environment day we focus on this vast environment covering 70% of our planet surface and constituting 99% of the living space on Earth.. yet is also one of the most emperilled habitats!
This year focus is plastic pollution. Do you see a recurring theme??
Yes, because plastic this year has finally attracted some media attention, such a big problem we let it become. We are not very good at stopping problems before they become quite so unmanageable, must be something to work on and improve, no?
Saying this, while the plastic problem has gotten slightly out of hand, we can still try to reduce it and manage it as best we can.
Firstly, this increased awareness is pushing companies to take actions. Take Garnier actions for sustainable beauty,or check these 40 companies which have pledged to reduce their plastic packaging. As of recent in the Netherlands, Arla and Campina have changed their cartons to be made of recyclable paper (e.g purepack).
But while this is all good news now people (us) can play an even bigger part. Consumer choice is so important, and although companies can manipulate it I believe we can also manipulate companies. Buy loose rather than packaged, leave packages at the tills (you can join organised plastic actions, such as those that recently happened in the Netherlands), chose brands with sustainable and recyclable packaging (check recycling info on the back of packages) even if it takes a little extra time and maybe costs a few extra cents.
I believe that by making some small adjustments and consumed more consciously we have the power to create a shift in the market and encourage companies to continue on their ethical tracks..
I am hoping this inspires you and encourages you to think more critically next time you shop.
Some tips for supermarket shopping here, for some marine related blogs check the marine conservation theme here
Today is World Environment Day
While I think every day should be "environment day", it's a good thing to raise awareness of many environmental problems!
This year theme is plastic pollution, I theme I wrote about in many of my posts and that I am very passionate about (reducing waste of course!)
Visit the official site for more info here, to gain more knowledge and understand the small steps you can do. You can start by spreading the word ;)
Added challenge: make today a no plastic day! No disposable coffee cups, cutlery, take away lunches etc.. see how it goes. And if you can't go fully plastic free today, at least try and monitor how much plastic you get through in a day! Looking forward to see how you have done!
Next time you are in a crowded place (city, shop, train. Whatever counts as crowded for you) please take a look around with the aim to observe. Do you also see what I see? Not only we are becoming fatter and child obesity has become a big problem, but people don’t seem to care about each other and surroundings anymore either. We have sedentary jobs, we eat overly processed things and we are generally out of touch with our environment. Some of us follow diets (which then become lifestyles) that are meant to bring us back to our prehistoric selves ( think of the paleo diet or raw food trends), then kill themselves st the gym because that is what our bodies are meant to do.
I do somewhat agree that eating natural and unprocessed as much as feasibly possible (sorry I cannot give up cheese...), but I also think that we should change our general lifestyle little by littleto get closer to nature, understand it again, and find our sync.
While not all of us can yet afford to give up our jobs to get into full time agriculture and country life (a world entirely without cities would be weird and utopic right now), small changes can be done to fit our current way of life. How about skipping the gym to grow your own veg instead ( depending on the size of the land you get you will get to move your body how it was meant to move for sure!). Go on a fishing trip, or if you are s fun, go hunting ( responsibly). You can even find some local farms where you can go picking your own fruit and veg.
What are the benefits of this? Not just a return to what our bodies are designed to eat and do, gaining general well-being, but also could bring societal benefits too. Firstly you might get a good feeling, having ‘caught’ (or grown) something for yourself, and we all know that happy people are general better people! The fresh air might also help you want to be outside more, making you healthier and removing pressures on health systems, also being outside makes us less stressed which also makes us less prone to chronic illnesses. Further, you may start to notice nature rhythms, seasonality, notice the insects or plant timing, notice what the rain does and what are the consequences of extreme temperatures. So we may start to care more, which may lead to better choices in other areas of our lifestyles. Overall a win-win situation...
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