Archive for May, 2011

An Interview with Tim Silverwood

We  had the pleasure of interviewing Tim Silverwood, a passionate surfer and advocate of the environment. This July he will journey across the Pacific Ocean from Honolulu to Vancouver, visiting the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has been compared to a ‘floating island of trash’, and is spread over an area twice the size of France in the North Pacific Ocean. Four oceanic currents converge there, causing floating plastic debris from Asia, North America and the South Pacific to accumulate in a swirling vortex that’s rumoured to be doubling in size every 10 years. The islands of Hawaii lie in the centre of the Gyre and suffer from massive levels of plastic pollution.

The voyage is being coordinated by the premier organisation researching the impact of plastics on the oceans, the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. Their team plans to do research that will shed light on the global distribution and biological consequences of marine debris. Tim will also be taking photos and filming it for an upcoming documentary.

We took some time out to ask Tim some questions:

1. Tell us when your passion for the environment started. What struck you in your life experiences to become an advocate?

I have grown up with the ocean in my life like most Australians. I started with the sport of surfing and have been doing it now for over 20 years. However, surfing isn’t only a sport for me but much more. When you’re out in the ocean, you’re out in this incredible raw state of the environment. When you start to see things impacting on the health of the arena, you want to do something about it. So I started young and was focused on plastic pollution. I would pick up floating plastic while I was surfing and put them in my wetsuit.

I also traveled around India and Asia for 10 months and that’s when you really start to see the problems and I was just shocked. It was at that point I really started to think pro-actively and advocating the message for people to be the difference.

2. There are many people who don’t live near an ocean such as the middle of the United States and may not perceive this being too much of a problem. What would you say to them?

It’s really easy to say it doesn’t affect me because I am thousands of miles inland. However, once plastic gets into a drain or a stream it will eventually be dragged out to sea. Then sea life may mistake it for plastic and the fish you eat could contain toxins because of it. A lot of people out there, like and eat fish, so this something that is happening now that could affect everyone.

3. What’s the most surprising memory of your travels around India and Asia?

It’s not so much as a striking memory rather than just being shocked by what I’ve learned with the statistics. I’ve learned that…

  • We only reuse 5% of what we have.
  • Every molecule of plastic that’s ever been created is still in existence. This use of plastic paints a bit of an alarming statistic for our future.
  • From 2000-2010 our planet created and consumed more plastic than in the entire history of plastic before that.
  • Plastic particles in our oceans kill approximately 100,000 marine mammals each year.
  • 80% of marine debris is initially discarded on land and is blown, rolled, or washed out to sea via our beaches, rivers, streams and storm water drains.

4. What inspired you to embark on a voyage like this and what do you hope to achieve?

I have a natural passion for the environment and I hope to take this to a wider audience. It’s a unique opportunity to visit the Pacific Garbage Patch and by seeing it and making a documentary, my hope is that it will bring a higher level of understanding to this real issue that we have and encourage people to take small steps that lead to big changes.

I also hope to further develop ‘Take 3’, which is a nonprofit that I cofounded, that encourages anyone visiting the beach or going into the ocean to pick up three items of trash to help save the life of our marine animals.

5. Any other final thoughts?

The support I have received thus far is really humbling such as companies like Envirosax. It represents simple changes like start eliminating one-use plastic bags from your lifestyle. Just these small changes can make such a huge difference when we all start doing it. There’s power in numbers and it’s incredible what you can achieve.

Tim is seeking donations to help cover his voyage. Please visit http://www.indiegogo.com/Great-Pacific-Shame to learn more and to donate. Alternatively, Australian residents can attend one of the many fundraising movie premieres of the movie, Bag It, which Tim is hosting. Please visit www.timsilverwood.com to learn more.

*Note: Envirosax has donated reusable bags to Tim’s Australian fundraising movie premieres of Bag It.  Please help spread the word and help Tim raise the funds he needs for his voyage!