Jackie Nuñez, Founder of The Last Plastic Straw and Advocacy Program Manager at Plastic Pollution Coalition, was selected to embark on leg 15 of the eXXpedition, an all-women voyage to document plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.
The eXXpedition, a 2-year all-female sailing mission, is an immense project. The women selected to participate, represent less than 3% of the global applicants from more than 10,000 submissions from over 100 different nationalities.
The main goals of the eXXpedition are:
1. Solution-focused science,
2. Communications surrounding the issue of single-use plastic, especially microplastics and its detrimental effect on the oceans, and
3. Building a network of inspired changemakers.
Unfortunately, due to the global pandemic, Jackie’s voyage, Leg 15 that was to set sail from Darwin to Perth, AU in August 2020 was cancelled, and in its place she participated in a virtual “voyage” to Tonga, the first leg of a series of voyages that set out to accomplish the original goals virtually.
“Although it was not the travel adventure and hands on learning, sailing, and bonding that we would have had sailing on a boat together out at sea, it was a great experience and I enjoyed the connections I made with the other incredible women from different parts of the world on our virtual ‘voyage’ to Tonga,” said Jackie Nuñez, Founder of The Last Plastic Straw and Program Manager at Plastic Pollution Coalition. “I especially enjoyed our 5th watch ‘Talanoa,’ with local representatives from the Kingdom of Tonga where we learned about the local challenges and the work they are doing to raise awareness and work towards solutions to plastic pollution.”
Via Emily Penn –Virtual voyage Tonga
11 multidisciplinary women from 8 nationalities came together online for a 24 hour eXXpedition Virtual Voyage over two weeks, exploring the causes of and solutions to plastic pollution, including scientific discovery, problem solving techniques and leadership development.
Hailing from Micronesia, USA, Austria, Canada, Belgium, Iceland, Switzerland and the UK, the crew included a journalist, designer, sustainability manager, artist, content producer, photographer, management consultant and the founder of a movement to end plastic straws. The six-part Virtual Voyage included many of the best parts of our at-sea missions and on-shore workshops, and over the course of the different “watches” at all hours of the day, the crew shared their stories, analysed microplastic samples live, took part in a SHiFT Solutions Workshop, developed their own action plans and learned from each other’s expertise. The first collaboration happened under 15 minutes into the first watch!
The crew also conducted waste management surveys in their part of the world as part of an ongoing research project in partnership with the University of Georgia. They recorded over 933 items in 7 different countries, and together they analysed and compared their findings from around the globe. Continuing a route around the world, on Watch 5 the women took part in a virtual “Talanoa,” joined with local representatives from the Kingdom of Tonga to talk about the local challenges of a global issue. OHAI Incorporated, The Commonwealth Secretariat and No Pelestiki led a thought provoking discussion, opening doors for opportunities to explore ways to work on addressing plastic pollution in the region. As the first virtual voyage comes to an end, it’s just the beginning for this crew who are joining our community of changemakers. They are already planning to use their new knowledge and connections to change legislation around single-use plastic foodware in California, create a Water Innovation Lab, make new artwork to reflect the state of plastic pollution in island nations, manage expeditions of their own in Iceland and much more! We can’t wait to see what they do next.
Voyage 2: Fiji has already kicked off! Stay tuned for the next dispatch.