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Pristine Ocean Podcast

Author: Peter Hall

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The Pristine Ocean Podcast talks to people tackling the problem of plastic litter in the ocean and other waterways.
33 Episodes
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River CleanupLast week I was talking to Arno Doggen from a Belgian company called River Cleanup.  He introduced me to a really interesting term : Trash BlindnessThis is the condition of being desensitized to the waste we are standing in. One quick method of opening your eyes to trash is to take the 10 minute trash challenge: This means collect trash around your home for just 10mins. You can guess what happens. What you have seen, you cannot be unsee.River Cleanup is founded on the idea that people want to cleanup their environment and provides the organization and the tools so that groups can get together, have some fun while cleaning up and celebrating together afterwards. They are active 57 countries and are well on the way to be collecting a million tons annually by 2030. Here is the interview with Arno.
Plastic FischerThis is the Pristine Ocean podcast. I'm your host, Peter Hall. We talk to people about projects around the world, tackling the scourge of marine plastic litter.Imagine you're looking over a river covered with plastic refuse.Plastic bottles, sachets, flip flops.You might think that is unsightly. You might also think about the loss of quality of life for the people living near the river.You might ask yourself, where is all this going and why doesn't somebody do something about it?This is where the story of plastic Fisher begins from a hotel looking out over the Mekong River. Karsten Hirsch decided to throw in his career as a lawyer and do something. River clean-ups have become a central tool in the fight against ocean plastic. It is now thought that about 1000 rivers are responsible for 80% of the plastic flowing into the ocean. This is both a challenge but also an opportunity.To catch the pollution before it did disperses into the wider environment.Carsten told me that his personal connection to rivers comes from his passion for a range of water sports, including sailing and rowing. He and his partner founded Plastic Fischer to clean Up rivers.Along the way, they developed a trash barrier that floats on the surface to concentrate the plastic waste.Working directly on site, they developed the three L principle of local, low cost and low tech.Karsten told me the story about how Plastic Fischer began.
Nomad PlasticEcotoursimYou have probably heard the term.You might be attracted to the idea that your personal travels could not just expand your own personal universe but could also have a positive impact on the environment of the place you are visiting.You might wish that the people who live there would benefit by maybe expanding their view of the environment. This could happen by an exchange of information and ideas to address environmental challenges.Imagine travelling with a group of 10 people onboard a  traditionally built wooden boat, through far-flung islands in Indonesia. The boat is run on zero waste principles and at each stop, you explore the environment through the eyes of the local people.I think that would be attractive to a lot of people. I personally would love a journey like that. Today we are talking to a JB from the company Nomad PlasticFrom spring 2022 Nomad Plastic will be running tours, like these.JB graduate engineer who has just completed a masters degree into waste management at the Hong Kong university of science and technology.I sat down with JeanBaptistte and talked about his studies and where he is going with the ecotourism project.His vision is to become an entrepreneur in the waste management space. During his studies, he analysed over 70 existing waste management projects and established the three factors that determine whether a project succeeds or fails.JB did a post-doctorate degree and studied over 70 different waste mitigation projects.The main takeaways were - lack of technological know-how- lack of a business model- lack of assessment of social impact
CleanhubToday we are talking to a german waste processing professional. He is also    a surfer and ocean evangilistHe is an entrepreneur who believes in the power of technology to create solutions to envionmental challenges Joel Tasche from CleanHub wants to disrupt an industry where the margins are already razor thin.In locations of high plastic pollution, his company finances local contractors to collect the non-recyclable materials that would otherwise land in the environmentTo pay for these operations, he works with consumer brands who want to offset their plastic footprint.The story starts in Lake Constance in the south west of Germany where Joel grew up. The fishermen there complain of too few fish. The water is so clean, the fish have little to feed on. You get the picture. Very, very clean. Growing up in an environment like this, leaves a mark on person. When Joel moved away to study, he ended up spending a lot of time in the water surfing.He worked for a while at a startup but then he hit a crisis of meaning for this life.Read the transcript here
EmpowerWelcome to the Pristine Ocean podcast. I'm your host Peter Hall. In the podcast, we talked to people and projects around the world, tackling the scourge of marine plastic litter.  You may have heard the term circular economy. It means feeding waste materials back into valuable products.  But the demands of circularity create problems for the waste collectors. The waste collectors will need to document and track their work.  They will want to make the claim “I collected this material at this place and at this time”. But as in any business transaction, it comes down to trust and the only way to gain trust is transparency. You need some kind of book or ledger where you can enter your claim.  Other stakeholders should be able to look into this ledger and importantly, nobody should be able to make changes like adding or removing a few zeros.  In this episode we are talking to the founder of Empower. Empower is a Norwegian company which has created the digital infrastructure to account for collected plastics and currency transactions anywhere in the world.  It's all based on blockchain technology. You've probably heard about the blockchain, but if you still don't get it, you are not alone.  Think of it as an Excel spreadsheet somewhere in the Internet. You can add a row to this spreadsheet, but you can't change the data in the existing rows. This makes it great for recording transactions.  With different materials and currencies with different players.  All around the world.  Empower has projects in over 30 countries of the world and has gained unique insights into how to solve the plastic crisis.  Here's the interview with Wilhelm, the founder of Empower. 
Sustain CreditsWe are talking today with the founder of sustained credits Mahasen Gunawardena or simply Lanks. He wants to create a currency to heal the world. The healing will be done by Earth Doctors who will not only be collecting plastic from the environment but also planting tree or doing some action to reduce the pressure we're putting on the planet. The funding comes from the marketing or environmental budgets of large and small corporations. There's a lot to do, but Lanks has a background in business and has the know-how and determination to overcome the challenges. Have it listen to the interview. See what you think. 
PangeaRivers. They are nature's conveyor belts powered by the pull of the moon. They run tirelessly day and night pumping not only water but also trash into the ocean. They are thought to be the source of 80% of marine plastic pollution. Even up to 2018, it was thought that just ten rivers in the world were responsible for that. These were large rivers connecting cities to the oceans. More recently, it has been found that this model seriously underestimates the influence of smaller rivers. Nowadays the science is reporting about 1000 rivers, bringing 80% of plastic to the ocean. This leakage needs to be plugged to stop ocean plastic litter, but how? One tool that is showing promise is something called river barriers. The one’s that I've seen are made by hanging a grid on a series of floaters and stringing them across a flowing waterway. They are passive devices that use the power of the water to concentrate the waste 24/7. Volunteers or contractors come and clean them out regularly. But how will these structures be financed? What financial models will pay for scaling up and catching all this trash? Pangea is a startup which not only plans to scale up river barriers, but they also have the know how to generate the necessary funding. I had the pleasure of talking to the founder of Pangia, Marcos Bulacio. His story is both inspiring and heartwarming. I hope you enjoy it. I certainly did. Full transcript of interview
OpenLitterMapPristine OceanFull transcriptI was always fascinated by maps. As a child, I loved opening an Atlas, finding a remote town or city, and imagining what life was like in that place. What did these streets and buildings look like? Exploring the world with my fingers was always a thrill. When Google Maps arrived on the scene in 2005, I was hooked. Google Maps is OK, I guess if you have an Internet connexion, you know what Google Maps is.Having all those free maps in an easy to use interface. Technologically, it was a world wonder, a moon shot. It was like having your own personal pyramid in your pocket. But Google did not create maps for the fame, they were in it for the fortune. Data is the new oil. Google uses maps to collect data which they then own to earn money for their advertising business. We, the users provide the data, but Google owns it. A lot of people were imagining a universe where the data remained in the public domain. The open data movement crossed the technology of Google Maps with the principles of Wikipedia. The result, something called OpenStreetMaps. Today we’re talking to a geographer who’s taken the idea of OpenStreetMaps a step further he has created a tool called OpenLitterMaps. He wants people like you and me going around into the world and collecting images of litter using an app on a smartphone. When you do this, you are engaging in citizen science, also known as crowdsourcing. OpenLitterMaps is still a work in progress. There are still some essential aspects to be done, mainly making the data entry more fun and more rewarding. But for municipalities, for scientists, for anybody working for a clean environment, the opportunities are enormous. I was really looking forward to the interview with Sean and he displayed a level of passion and knowledge that really just knocked me over. 
Effekt FootwearFashion might be a statement about who you are, but mostly it's about feeling good with yourself, feeling good, not just in your skin, but in the clothes you're wearing.  For a lot of people, feeling good means that the materials also have to be sustainable. Will consumers buy clothes and shoes that make the statement:“I care about the environment”. The simple answer is: we don't know.  But a startup in Austria wants to find out.They are creating a sneaker which they claimed to be the *trashiest* sneaker on the planet. It's made almost entirely from materials recovered from the waste stream, including ocean plastics. It's great idea, but will customers go for it? If they had an enormous budget, they could have designed and produced the shoes and checked outthe market reaction, but a big budget was just something they didn't have.  Instead, they created a crowdfunding campaign on a site called Kickstarter. If the project got funded, they figured then there might be enough interest there to build a business around creating this sustainable shoe.  Setting up the Kickstarter project was the easy bit, then began the nail biting. Would the project reach its funding target or would it just fizzle out and be forgotten?  Ben grew up in Australia, but he is now settled in Austria with his Austrian partner and their new baby. During the day he studies packaging technology. After hours, he follows his dream of creating footwear that won't trash the planet.  July, the fifth was a big day for Ben. It was his birthday and he just turned 34 but maybe more even more importantly, his Kickstarter project had reached its funding goal. He and his team at Effekt Footwear want to change the way that people think about what is fashionable. He thinks that wearing footwear made from virgin fossil fuels is not cool. Ben's dream is to create a sneaker that people would love to wear because it's made of recycled materials. But marketing a good idea successfully requires a lot of drive and determination. Is Ben made out of there right stuff to get this over the finishing line?  
Clean OceanPristine OceanYou might have heard about some amazing stories about crypto currencies in the last few months. Stories about a currency shooting up to the moon and then falling back to Earth.Criminals using cryptocurrencies for their payments and maybe most disturbing of all, the environmental footprint associated with cryptocurrency mining, and then came their tweet from Elon Musk causing the market to drop dramatically.I can imagine that you're thinking that the whole market is bad, but there are some good people looking for applications that will have a positive impact.That's why when I heard about a cryptocurrency that are being created to fund ocean preservation projects, I wanted to know more.The term they use is charity token. It's a cryptocurrency, but it's got charity baked into it. The idea with charity tokens is that part of the transaction fees associated with trading are donated to ocean preservation projects like Sea Shepherd or Ocean cleanup. These are famous ocean preservation projects that constantly need donations to keep their operations running.I decided to contact the founder of the company that had launched this charity token.But transparency is not something associated with the crypto world. I was wondering which part of the darknet I would have to access to get in contact with this crypto king.As it turns out, it was pretty easy. There's a picture of him and his contact details on the website cleanocean.ioJan, the founder of Clean Ocean was interested in talking, but he was busy.He and his team were out in the field cleaning up after the recent German floods.I thought this is not your typical cryptocurrency operation.When he got back to the office, I sat down with him and asked him about whether or not clean ocean is an environmental organisation with a crypto side, or it's a crypto operation with an environmental side. Have a listen to the interview and decide for yourself.... continue here
Offset your plastic usageBreaking the Plastic WavePristine OceanThis is the Pristine Ocean Podcast. The podcast that showcases people, projects and ideas that address the problem of marine plastic litter. Plastic has a Jekill and Hyde character. Before the moment of consumption is a model citizen providing hygiene, longer food life and lower transport costs. A moment after consumption, it becomes a worthless. Owned and loved by no one. It might land in the environment where it stays as pollution, poisoning waters, affecting tourism and stealing people’s quality of life. In just one generation we have created this monster. Can we, in our own generation, kill the beast?continued here ...
Carter CleanupEco-Friendly Wedding PlanningPristine Ocean I remember an incident that happened to me sometime ago. I was walking down the shopping street in a large metropolitan city. It was in fact London and the street was Oxford Street, but it could have been anywhere. It was late in the day on a Saturday and I was literally up to my knees in trash. Trash that shoppers had thrown away into the street. I was shocked, but more than that I just felt so helpless. I felt so alone.  Everybody must find this normal to be wading through trash, I thought.But if someone spoke out, I'm sure the people would sign up. Something was missing. A catalyst, a  lightning rod,  someone with the flag calling. “Follow me.  Together we can solve this.”  We're talking today to a catalyst, lightning rod, a flag carrier. As a little boy growing up in Mumbai in India, he dreamed of making waves. When he grew up, he became a master mariner. A sea captain in the merchant marine. One experience while he was travelling changed his view of the world forever. A patch of plastic the size of France, right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  Ashwin – Carter CleanupMost people don’t know about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Unfortunately I came across it and it was as horror scene. to see a huge patch of plastic waste in the middle of the Pacific.  Continue reading ...
Gili Eco Trust
We spoke to Andrew Sinclair from GTM Trash Management about setting up a pyrolysis reactor on Lombok, Indonesia.Full transcript of the interview.Andrew SinclairThe company revolves around this idea that we can turn the plastic into something with value, so that at the moment it's not of any value to anyone. So if we can put a price on it and turn it into a resource for the local people, you can't change people's mindsets over this sort of stuff. You need to change the the plastic. Pristine OceanBefore the age of modern chemistry, alchemists dreamt of turning lead into gold. In the age of plastic waste, the new alchemists dream of turning old shoes into black gold. A process that converts waste plastic into oil. This is the promise of pyrolysis. Although the chemistry of pyrolysis is well understood, the commercial application is still in its early days. Entrepreneurs are asking the question can we make money out of pyrolysis while preventing plastic from destroying the environment? Can pyrolysis be the solution to the plastic waste crisis? I talked to one entrepreneur who is launched, a pyrolysis demonstrator on Lombok, an island in Indonesia.He and his team have set up a pyrolysis reactor. The Will digest one tonne of plastic waste per day and convert this into oil. This oil can be further distilled to diesel. On May the 29th, 2021, to great fanfare and with many dignitaries, his pyrolysis demonstrator was fired up and started devouring plastic waste. The aim of the demonstrator is to convince investors to get aboard. What seemed like an overnight success was years of toil and trouble in the making. The story starts in Tasmania, Australia. Full transcript of the interview.Pyrolysis explained
Lombok Ocean CareAsmara RestaurantPristine OceanWelcome to the Pristine Ocean podcast. I'm your host, Peter Hall. The podcast talks to people around the world fighting the scourge of marine plastic litter. SakinahMy God, people hate me because I'm always posting this pictures of of the rubbish container and send it to all government officials and all these WhatsApp groups and complaining too.  Pristine OceanMaybe you've been thinking of visiting the country of Indonesia. Although Bali is the destination of choice for many people, you might also consider the island of Lombok right next door. Not so many tourists with friendly and relaxed locals. You might be interested in pink sand beaches, old temples, rain forests, animals to observe, and the best snorkelling and diving, then Lombok might be your dream destination. But like many item locations in Southeast Asia, Lombok’s waste disposal systems are just not up to the job. Plastic waste is swept into the waters. Turtles, birds, fish and even large mammals such as dolphins might eat the waste or become entangled in it and drown.Backyard burning of plastic waste and groundwater contamination are health threats. Incomes from tourism are affected if the visitors see pollution as a reason not to visit. Were you talking today to someone who is fighting back? Sakina runs a zero waste restaurant on Lombok. The Asmara. The restaurant is rated highly by tourists and locals. It has something for everyone. In the early 90s, Sakina had two small children and a problem. How to take care of her young family. She decided to start a restaurant to cater for the increasing number of tourists coming from Europe, the Italians, the Germans. She herself was born in Germany but has converted to Islam. Thus her Indonesian name. The restaurant, she decided should be upmarket and give visitors peace of mind and not be worried about the infamous Bali belly. The restaurant is located in a village called Senggigi. Which is the main tourist location in West Lombok.The restaurant did well serving 50 guests a day in the Good Times. But Sakina had to constantly deal with new challenges.  SakinahUh, you know it was good. I mean tourism was good, but then we had all these problems. Every two years something major happened, and then lately then there was the earthquake and now covet, so it was always like struggling.  Pristine OceanThe earthquake struck Senggigi in Aug 2018 at the height of the tourist season. Hundreds were killed and thousands injured.  SakinahSo the restaurant was packed. It happened just when people either were already eating or just ordered. And then suddenly it started to shake like crazy and all the tyres falling from the rules and people. Running out, screaming, knocking over chairs and tables, and it was really it was really bad.  Despite the chaos in the disruption, something good began.  SakinahUm the beach cleanups especially that started in after the earthquake about five months after the earthquake. When everybody was out of business and everything looked terrible and people needed something positive so it was really nice to go to do something out on the beach and clean up. Complete transcript
ImpactlutionEco bricks - with Faisal Abdur Rani When ocean plastics first came up on my personal radar - I heard the following number over and over again: 3 million tons plastic waste entering the ocean each year. At that rate we will have more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050. And then I started taking notice of the pictures. Corals entangled with plastic bags. Beautiful beaches covered in PET bottles.  And then next thing I found out was that plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, ultimately feeding toxins into our own food chain.  I can still remember when and where I was when I first saw the picture of the turtle with a plastic straw being remove from its nose. I don't consider myself highly sensitive but that seemed so wrong. I am the type of person who sees a problem and reaches for the nearest search engine. I had a quick trawl for solutions. And I found plenty of them. Of course, no single solution works without some drawback or limitation- each had a fatal flaw that prevents it from being the silver bullet that will solve the plastic crisis. The solution that so many people are searching for. Something, that I learnt, was that most experts seem to agree on, is the 3r framework - reduce, recycle, reuse A solution can be assessed by whether or not it fits the framework. Things like calculating your personal plastic footprint get the thumbs up because it supports reducing part of the 3r's Solutions like biodegradable-plastics fit none of the 3r's and might be regarded with skepsis Along the way, I heard about this solution called - Eco bricks. The name sounded familiar - some kind of environmentally tolerable building block, I supposed I was curious and wanted to find out more According to the internet, an Eco brick is a plastic bottle packed tightly, and the emphasis here is tightly, with plastic waste. The Eco brick can be used as a component in building structures such as walls or even furniture. I found an excellent resource at ecobricks.org which has a fun and interactive app for getting involved in the international Eco brick movement I was lucky enough to find someone who could help me with a few of the questions I had about Eco bricks  Faisal Abdur Rani is the Program Director of Impactlution Malaysia which manages the activities of Eco bricks in Malaysia He organizes beach clean-ups, river clean-ups and urban clean-ups and is a zero-waste practitionerHe is a trained chemical engineer from Montana state university and worked previously in the oil and gas industry Eco bricks is a technology and Faisal has a deep understanding of how to apply it - and not just in an engineering sense but also how Eco bricks can be used as an educational tool Faisal, you have a lot of experience with Eco bricks: what is an Eco brick? Faisal Abdur RaniAn Eco brick is a plastic bottle packed with single use plastic. Non-recyclables are packed into the bottle. Ok I want to make an Eco brick. I have a plastic water bottle. I have washed and dried some plastic packaging - what next?  Complete transcript
Beach Cleanup KedahPristine OceanWelcome to the Pristine Ocean podcast. I'm your host Peter Hall. Each week we talked to people around the world fighting the scourge of marine plastic litter. Kim And I must say I have a few friends who are what you call, armchair critics. The only people always have this thing. They should do this. The schools should do that. The government should do this in. The authorities should do that as well. You can see all that to the cows. Come home. The trash is still there.The only thing is you get out of the chair going. Pick it up, then you see a difference. Pristine OceanThe greatest threat to our planet is the belief that somebody else will save it.This quote from Robert Swan, who was the first person to walk to both poles, resonates with many people because it rings so true.Even if people are concerned about the environment, they often wait for someone else to act. Or maybe they're waiting for someone else to lead the way.Today we're talking to Kim Yip from the Beach Cleanup Kedah in Malaysia.Kim spent her professional life teaching schoolchildren. Nowadays she is retired and has more time to concentrate on her passion: caring for the natural environment.Although retired, she is still teaching. Teaching by leading.She says that people want to help but need a platform to contribute.So she created one.She scouts out areas needing clean-ups and then flexes her social media muscles to organise volunteers to spend their free time on the beach removing trash.Talking to her, she tells you that she is driven by a sense of responsibility for the environment and for the next generation.Let's go back a few years when she was a school teacher. In those days she was already involved in clean-ups.  Kim The schools used to do clean-ups to collect data for our call International Studies. So they would rope in schools to help them and we would do that. That's my first exposure to clean-ups.You teach the kids how to recycle upcycle in school, so which clean-ups was just one of the many activities that we had. Pristine OceanThe school provided the structures needed to organise the clean-ups as well as the helping hands of the students. So as she started transitioning away from her life as a school teacher, she started looking around for inspiration how she might organise clean-ups outside the school environment.She found what she was looking for in an existing beach clean-up organisation led by Doctor Vala in another state of Malaysia.It looked perfect. The only problem was the distance. It was a long, long, way away. Kim So we used to travel once a month  400 kilometres one way.To help them out and show my colleagues how it can be done. Pristine OceanIt was a long way to travel, but there were rewards along the road and on the beach. Kim That's how I found out that they actually reach out to volunteers using the social media. Well,  I'm 62. We are not so active in using social medias but till much later. So that's how I learn from the group Doctor Vala’s Group, how it can be done.Pristine OceanAnd they were able to combine the cleanups with weekend trips. Read the remaining transcript here
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