"Our best hope is to focus on alternatives to single use plastics"

Ann Jenkins on the eXXpedition boat in October.
Ann Jenkins on the eXXpedition boat in October. / A. J.
  • Ann Jenkins | eXXpedition crew member, first leg

  • This environmental campaigner hopes to use her experience to raise awareness of the problem of single use plastics

Ann Jenkins, the founder of Playa Patrol, recently completed her two week leg of a round-the-world all female crew boat trip with the UK based organisation, eXXpedition, which is carrying out research into plastics in our seas and oceans.

How long were you away for?

I was on leg one which sailed from Plymouth in the UK to Soa Miguel Azores from October 7 to October 21.

Did everything go to plan?

Not really. The weather was a huge impact. We ended up sailing an extra 500 nautical miles due to severe wind and rain. We ripped our main sail the first night and we kept getting battered with other assorted challenges like the skipper being concerned about running out of fuel due to the extra miles, but thankfully we didn't.

What was the hardest part?

The weather was brutal. We left Plymouth on the heel of Hurricane Lorenzo. Relentless wind and rain meant we were never dry even with all the layers and the waterproof gear and you never really sleep when you are rolling back and forth.

What do you hope to bring back to the Costas from the experience?

The workshop looking at solutions was most impactful as our brainstorming exercise helped me realize that our best hope for the future is to focus on alternatives to single-use plastic. We need governments and manufacturers to incentivise entrepreneurs, designers and scientists to develop alternate packaging solutions so that we can reach a tipping point. Until then, every one of us can do our part to stop using single-use plastic.

What did you learn?

I had no idea that a regular person like me could look at the DNA of plastic, nor that we could test the bacteria found on micro plastics to help us determine the source of the plastic and where it may have entered the ocean.

Did you see any gyres? (giant plastic islands in the ocean)

No. Probably due to the winds.

Where was the boat off to next?

Leg two was to Antigua. It was delayed two weeks due to bad weather.