Honoring Dr. Wallace J Nichols, Longtime Friend and Advisor to Plastic Pollution Coalition

With very heavy hearts, we mark the passing of our longtime friend and advisor, Dr. Wallace J Nichols. Simply put, Plastic Pollution Coalition would not exist without J. He has been with us since the beginning: advising, connecting, inspiring.

J was an ocean and wild water lover, marine biologist, and passionate sea turtle advocate who made it his mission to connect every human with their Blue Mind, a water-induced state of calm, unity, and inspired will to protect and restore nature, and the antidote to the “red mind” stress many of us experience today.

It is true that oceans give us life, but our planet’s wild places also make life worth living, and help heal us when we are broken.

– J Nichols

His heart-centered work has become a global movement; influenced countless environmental organizations, businesses, and educational institutions; and inspired people around the world to protect and restore the oceans and other natural areas, using awe and connection rather than guilt and fear to inspire action. As he explained, “Blue Mind turned turtle poachers into turtle protectors.” For his expansive and brilliant work, we nominated him for The Earthshot Prize in 2023 and The Aloha Award in 2024. Now, Blue Mind is reaching a whole new generation.

J created the simple act of gifting a blue marble as a gesture of gratitude and in celebration of our beautiful, fragile, tiny blue planet, and through this global art project reached over 1 billion people, including Dr. Sylvia Earle, Dr. Jane Goodall, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

J had a massive impact on how we do our work at Plastic Pollution Coalition, and many of us considered him a personal friend and mentor. We extend heartfelt condolences to J’s lovely wife, Dana, daughters Grayce and Julia, to his mother Sheila and their entire family, and to so many people in our network who knew and loved him. J will continue to inspire our work. We will always find him on the warm ocean breeze, amongst the waves, and in every moment we pause to feel awe and appreciation for our beautiful, blue, water planet. 

TAKE ACTION

You can honor Dr. Wallace J Nichols by contributing to the Dr Wallace J Nichols Memorial Fund (approved by his family) and by spreading the word about Blue Mind to help fulfill his mission of letting every human being on the planet know about the emotional, cognitive, and spiritual values that water brings. 

Our goal is that every single human being understands their Blue Mind. I want every person on the planet to know, to learn, what we know about the beneficial aspects of water, for physical and mental health.

 – J Nichols

Read more about his work, hear him speak on our June 2023 webinar, read the blog he wrote about beach walks with his daughters, watch his TEDx Great Pacific Garbage Patch talk, and love the ocean by helping to complete his 11th Annual 100 Days of Blue Mind Challenge (#5)

And most importantly, as J would say, “Get in the water.”

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June 22, 2023 , 3:00 pm 4:00 pm EDT

Healthy oceans provide vast cognitive, emotional, psychological, social, and spiritual wellness Blue Mind benefits to all of us throughout our lives. The oceans cover more than three-quarters of Earth’s surface and account for 97 percent of its water, as well as much of the air we breathe. The oceans support an incredible array of life, help regulate the climate, and support life on our blue planet. Unfortunately, our oceans face significant threats from human-made pollution, particularly plastic. Experts estimate nine to 14 million metric tons of plastic enter the oceans each year, and without urgent action, that amount will only increase—projected to reach 23–37 million metric tons annually by the year 2040.

Date: Thurs., June 22
Time: 12-1 pm PT | 3-4 pm ET
Click here to convert to your timezone.

On June 22, we will dive deep into the challenges that plastic pollution poses to our oceans and our bodies, how polluted waters disrupt the mental health benefits we gain from access to healthy oceans and waterways, and how we may restore our planet as well as our own physical and mental well-being. Joining the conversation will be “Her Deepness,Sylvia Earle, President & Co-Chair of Mission Blue and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence; Dr. Wallace J Nichols, Marine Biologist & Author of Blue Mind; and Imari Walker-Franklin, PhD, Research Chemist at RTI International & Author of Plastics. The panel will be moderated by Plastic Pollution Coalition CEO & Co-Founder Dianna Cohen.

Hollywood Climate Summit

This webinar is also being presented as part of the digital programming for the Hollywood Climate Summit, a hybrid event taking place online, and in person, in Los Angeles, California, June 22 & 23. You can register for the Hollywood Climate Summit here.


PANELISTS

Dr. Sylvia Earle

Dr. Sylvia Earle, a pioneering marine biologist and National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence, has made groundbreaking contributions to ocean exploration. She earned her Master’s degree in Botany from Duke University and conducted innovative underwater scuba research for her doctoral work. She was the first woman scientist to live and work in an underwater habitat and led an all-female team for the Tektite II Project. She set a record for the deepest untethered walk on the seafloor and designed underwater vehicles with her third husband, Graham Hawkes. As the first woman Chief Scientist of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), she has authored over 200 publications, led numerous marine expeditions, and received prestigious awards, including Time magazine’s first Hero for the Planet. Currently, Earle leads the Mission Blue/Sylvia Earle Alliance, focusing on protecting Earth’s biodiversity through “Hope Spots.”


Dr. Wallace J. Nichols

Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, widely known for his work on aquatic ecosystems and marine conservation, holds an M.E.M. degree in Natural Resource Economics and Policy from Duke University and a Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona. He has been recognized with a Bradley Fellowship, a Marshall Fellowship, and a Fulbright Fellowship for his research endeavors. His contributions to the field have earned him membership in the Explorers Club and the University of Arizona’s Global Achievement Award. Formerly a senior scientist at Ocean Conservancy, he has authored over 200 publications and his book Blue Mind has gained international acclaim. His work has been featured in major media outlets worldwide, including BBC, CNN, National Geographic, and Scientific American. Based in California, Nichols is dedicated to fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for our natural world.


Dr. Imari Walker-Franklin

Dr. Imari Walker-Franklin is a research chemist at Research Triangle Institute International that contributes research to determining human and environmental exposure to potentially harmful substances. One project includes working to understand the release and effect of microplastics and microplastic associated chemicals within simulated human fluids and tissues. In 2021, she completed her Ph.D. at Duke University investigating the release, transformation and effects of polymer associated chemicals within aquatic environments. Before Duke, she completed her Bachelors in Marine Science at the University of California, Berkeley. Alongside her work, Imari uses her science communication-based YouTube channel to share information about plastic pollution, microplastics, and potentially harmful chemicals associated with these consumer products. Imari Walker-Franklin and Jenna Jambeck are the co-authors of the book Plastics (2023), which is a part of the MIT Essential Knowledge Series.


RESOURCES

o A Guide to Plastic in the Ocean (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
o Great Pacific Garbage Patch (National Geographic)
o Fact Sheet: Plastics in the Ocean (EarthDay.org)
o Plastic Free Campus – Dr. Sylvia Earle – Mission Blue (Plastic Free Campus)
o Blue Mind by Wallace J Nichols
o Dr. Sylvia Earle – The Ocean is Connected to Everything (TEDx)
o Plastic Pollution Coalition Nominates Six Solutions for The Earthshot Prize 2023
o The True Cost of Plastic Pollution by Wallace J Nichols
o Pre-order Plastics by Imari Walker-Franklin, PhD