My research project looking into the ‘Future of Washing our Clothes’ supported by Sky Ocean Rescue and National Geographic is nearly ready to go! This research will be investigating how we can capture fibres released in the washing cycle. This is particularly important as most of our clothes are plastic and a full wash load can release up to 700,000 fibres per wash. We are soon receiving four new washing machines and have been in discussions with different companies about the products we are going to examine. Testing will begin in August, so watch this space!

 

The summer months have been full of beach cleans and outreach events. At Plymouth Pirate Festival, I joined other scientists to present our research in a creative way. Rob Arnold (a local artist) and I, created marine animal mosaics made out of plastic litter found on a beach in Cornwall in one day. With the help from children and their parents over the two-day event, we made something beautiful out of an ugly problem. People were shocked at how much plastic was collected. However, they were more shocked when they found out the amount we used was only a small proportion. It was very rewarding hearing what a lot of families or schools were doing to reduce their plastic footprint.

Mosaic animals made out of plastic collected from a beach in Cornwall.jpg
Mosaic animals made out of plastic collected from a beach in Cornwall.jpg

World Ocean’s day was also very busy! I joined a local environmental activist for part of a 22-mile paddle and pick. This involved paddle boarding to areas that were hard to reach by footpath and removing any litter. On twitter, I also took part in my first Question and Answer session run by the Women’s Institute. A lot of thought provoking questions were asked, and it definitely made me think out the box!

World Ocean’s Day litter pick and paddle with Anna Turns
World Ocean’s Day litter pick and paddle with Anna Turns

To top off an exciting few months, I was thrilled to present in Washington D.C at the National Geographic Explorers Festival. During this event I was also a part of a ‘planet or plastic’ panel discussion alongside three other inspirational women also working to tackle marine litter. Hopefully, this will lead to lots of exciting projects in the future.

National Geographic Explorers Festival; Planet or Plastic?
National Geographic Explorers Festival; Planet or Plastic?

So, what is next? I am currently doing the final touches on my PhD, so very busy making sure it is ready for submission. I hope to hand it in before I join eXXpedition, an all-female sailing research mission, as the lead scientist for Leg 2 (Vancouver to Seattle). On-board, we have a fantastic and eclectic group of women with different skill sets and careers who are passionate about protecting our oceans. I’ll be running my own experiment looking at the abundance of small plastic pieces found in the open ocean and in harbour sediments.

I am looking forward to sharing our journey and results with you!

 

Imogen

Sky Ocean Scholar