Sally Earthrowl courtesy of eXXpedition and Jamie Coleman
This autumn we are joined by geography teacher and environmentalist, Sally Earthrowl, to find out how we can navigate our way towards a plastic free ocean. As part of the Society’s Regional Theatres Programme, Sally will be speaking in Stamford and Exeter, so we caught up with her to find out what audiences can expect.
Tell us a bit about your background – what sparked your passion for geography?
I have always enjoyed the outdoors and my curiosity piqued at age eight when I discovered that there is an entire school subject to learn about how our planet works! I absolutely loved making sense of the world around me, piecing together knowledge from the classroom with examples from the real world and my day-to-day experience. This curiosity and enthusiasm still exists and my geographical thinking has enabled me to appreciate the interdependent and complex nature of the causes and solutions of plastic pollution.
What inspired you to join the eXXpedition team?
It wasn’t until I moved to Indonesia to teach that I became acutely aware of the extent of plastic pollution. Although I have always been conscious of the impact we have on our planet, we do a very good job of hiding the extent of our waste in the UK! Seeing plastic waste strewn across the beaches in Bali propelled me to take action locally and I worked alongside the community to tackle the issue, intercepting the waste and implementing upstream changes. The power of people coming together to take action was very motivating and when the opportunity arose to sail with eXXpedition from Hawaii to Vancouver, I jumped at the chance to discover more about this issue on a global scale, and to share my educational expertise to help enact change. I stayed onboard for our Round the World expedition as Mission Leader, leading all-women voyages to further explore the plastic pollution challenge and solutions.
Whilst you were on your eXXpedition voyage, did you come across anything surprising or unexpected?
One afternoon in the middle of the North Pacific Gyre a pod of dolphins visited to play alongside the boat. We had just taken a trawl through the surface waters and found hundreds of fragments of plastic and were analysing the sample using a Perkin Elmer FTIR. I was shocked by the sheer volume of plastic fragments found in one sample, and even more so by the diversity of polymer types, indicating that each fragment was likely from a different source. This was juxtaposed with the playfulness of the dolphins at the bow of the boat and the joy that this interaction with nature bought everyone on board. The issue is complex, but given the multiple sources of ocean plastic, there are multiple solutions to match - at least one that each and every one of us can adopt.
What can audiences expect from your talk?
Audiences can expect a story of discovery, from living in Indonesia to leading all-women’s sailing voyages onboard a 72-foot sailing vessel with eXXpedition. I will share the peaks and troughs of the journey navigating awareness and action around plastic pollution, and of life on board. Expect to come away with some tips on how you can use your own unique skillset to make a difference!
Geography and adventure are clearly something you are very passionate about, is there a take home message that you would like audiences to come away with?
Take the opportunities to explore the world around you! Even if it is going outside for a walk in the park, being in nature enables us to appreciate the wonders of the world and encourages us to live in a more sustainable manner to help protect it.
To find out more, book your tickets now.
19 October, Stamford Arts Centre: Book now
24 October, Exeter Phoenix: Book now
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