As part of our sponsorship deal with Chaco, we talked about dedicating a few blogs to the company for supporting our work to research plastic pollution in an as yet unstudied ocean gyre: The South Atlantic. As the Communications Director for The 5 Gyres Institute I could do that. After all, I do have background in journalism and writing marketing copy. But to adequately portray our relationship that would seem to saccharine. Too forced. So how about this:Â 12.2.10Â Attention: Chaco USAÂ From: The 5 Gyres Crew (somewhere just east of the Prime Meridian in The South Atlantic)Â Dear Chaco, straight up, if you hadnât supported us, we would not be here. Our ship would not have left port in Rio De Janeiro and we wouldnât have made a crucial scientific discovery that affects every person on this earth. We simply would not have had the resources to organize this month-long expedition to an area of earth rarely visited, even by commercial ships. If you hadnât supported us, we wouldnât have been so much further along in our mission to educate the world that oceanic plastic pollution isnât simply an issue that affects the North Pacific in a so called, âTexas Sized Garbage Patch.â If you hadnât supported us, we wouldnât be able to tell this global story of tragedy and hope.
Yes, dearest Chaco, I like your sandals, your shoes and your flip flops. And so does the whole crew onboard. And yes, theyâre going to show up in photos and films. But not because we had to pose people wearing them thinking that we need to make your higher brass happy, but rather, because from a utilitarian, comfort and stylistic standpoint, they just plain kick ass (I canât say it more plainly). I donât know if your product test list includes that criteria, but check the âkick assâ box. They work, well. Period.
And yes dearest Chaco, we like that you approach sustainability from a durability standpoint (though unfortunately not always the sexiest green buzz word) and also repair and replace your product for your consumers to make them last and stay out of landfills and stay out of the ocean. I canât tell you how often we see cheap, crappy flip flops out here. Pat yourself on the back, and check the âkick assâ box again.
So, dear Chaco, what youâre going to get in terms of photo assets from us is going to be as organic as the community of folks that already wear them. Those folks are going to see us wearing them and theyâre not going to think, âhey look at the cheesy marketing photo shoot.â No, theyâre going to be witness to a story of the sea that isnât in the limelight. Theyâre going to be witness to our body of work as it unfolds, 24/7 as this expedition continues. Theyâre going to be witness to us documenting a modern marine eco-disaster that covers 70% of the planetâs surface. Whatâs best, (and what weâre grateful for beyond the financial help), is that we have access to your community. We get to speak directly to them about the issue of single use plastics and the havoc itâs wreaking on our oceans. We get to speak to an entire legion of conservation minded, educated people with an undying spirit of adventure who live to love the wilderness where your footwear takes them. Thatâs gold to us.
Dearest Chaco, weâre delighted to let your community see us as we truly are after 31 days at sea: happy, sad, battered, dirty, shaven, unshaven, sunburnt, cut-up, beautiful, ugly, passionate, funny, tired, really wanting a beer, strong, but ultimately, always, inspired.
And who is walking the walk in your shoes?
Well, we take all sorts of people with us: scientists, filmmakers, photographers, pro surfers, activists, educators, actors, journalists, professional sailors, artists -- in short, people who give a crap about this planet and will come back to terra firma as ambassadors for our cause. For THE cause. And thanks to you, we have a little oceanic activist factory happening out her in this vast liquid wilderness. And thanks to you, we will see Africa in a few days time having discovered a story that we will have the resources to share with the world.
What have we seen? Well, in every sample, some 41 already, weâve found fragmented plastic particles over a 4,000 mile transect, every time. Weâve also watched bleach bottles, refrigerator trays, fish chewed plastic sheeting, buckets, bottle caps, water bottles, and countless other unrecognizable plastic trash. We've also collected fish samples to look at how plastic which concentrates persistent organic pollutants in the ambient sea waterand biomagnifies up the food chain and ultimately may affect human health. All of this floating by as we pass through as but a needle in a cosmically large haystack. Yes, what we thought would be here, is, undeniably, here.
So Thank You. We actually, really, look forward to working with you in the future on our upcoming expeditions and all our other outreach tours and education events. Oh and hey, seriously, get one of your folks onboard and out here with us. You have an open invitation. Personally, weâre going to bat for Whitney Conner because she believed in our project straight away and without her faith and grit, this wouldnât have happened. So cheers Whitney and salute to all of you at Chaco who helped us realize a dream that weâre a few days away from completing the first leg of. Oh yeah, weâll be coming back across in a monthâs time with a whole other crew.
In short, because of you, weâve almost made it across our 4th Gyre.
From a crew of very passionate and dedicated people to another,
The 5 Gyres Institute Expedition Team
Dr. Marcus Eriksen
Stiv J. Wilson