A bloke called me this morning. He asked me to help him raise funds for a boat so that he could in his words, “highlight the issue of plastics in the oceans”. He wants to sail around the world and use social media to alert people to the problem. I typically get one such call a week and have long grown cynical about them. The reasons they give vary – Overfishing, Plastics, Melting Ice Caps. But the general idea is the same – you come up with a problem the world has and claim you are going to “Raise Awareness” about it, and then see if someone will fund you.
Its this whole “raising awareness” that I take issue with. People already know about Plastics in the Ocean, Overfishing, Melting Ice Caps. We don’t need you taking selfies in the South Pole, Kayaking the North Pacific Gyre, or videoing broken Corals in the Philippines to know a problems exists. Its a much better scenario that you go out and actually do something about it.
There are thousands of good people who have figured a way to make the world a better place. We’ve been lucky enough to work with many of them over the last few years. Generally they run on a shoestring and achieve some amazing results. They focus on actually solving problems rather than just highlighting them. They work to stop Poaching, IUU Fishing, Deforestation, Homelessness etc. Raising awareness is a small part of their program, but the real focus is on doing their bit to address a given issue. If all you can do is “Raise Awareness”, then you are asking someone else to do the job.
Back to the bloke this morning, in the end he knew little about Plastics in the Ocean. He knew nothing of microbeads or cotton buds, the links between POPs and plastics, nor where the various gyres are situated. His sum total of knowledge from what I could glean was a beach clean up he’d helped with in New England that “Opened His Eyes to what is really happening”. He did know a lot about boats and had spent considerable time researching what vessel would be perfect for his trip around the globe though.
In the end I suggested he fly to the Philippines, and works on cleaning up the plastics and Rubbish around the waterways in Manilla. If he really wants to address Plastics in the Oceans, this would deliver a lot more than posting images on Instagram as he traverses the Pacific. Rant over…