In 2007, three Canadian surfers set out on a global expedition via sailboat to document the amount of waste in the oceans and coastlines. Their three year Ocean Gybe expedition covered 40,000 nautical miles and found plastic trash on every island visited, as well as in the open ocean along the way. The trio randomly selected isolated and unpopulated islands and then conducted litter analyses and cleanups along a 100 meter transect.
Because they were traveling on the same winds and currents that moved plastics and other trash around in the open water, the crew commonly sighted plastic waste in the water and on their stops. But in the Cocos Islands off the coast of Indonesia, they were shocked by the sheer inundation of waste. In only 10 meters, they collected 339 flip flops and 246 plastic bottles. And by the time they had finished the short transect, more trash had washed ashore to cover the areas they had cleaned.
Today, Ocean Gybe works to stop the problem of plastic pollution at the source by generating awareness of the issue. Eighty percent of the trash that ends up in oceans is land-based. Through outreach and education efforts at schools and conferences, the group hopes to share what they found during their trip and create change in how the public views single-use plastics. For more information on plastic pollution, visit the Ocean Gybe website, or the CAW website.