eXXpedition: Nicole and the plastics puzzle

2 years. 30 voyages. 300 women. Learn. Educate. Change. A research journey designed to explore and uncover solutions to #useplasticbetter.

Between 2019 and 2021, eXXpedition is sailing around the globe in what is arguably the most unique research journey to study plastics to date.

My name is Nicole Garofano. I am a PhD Candidate  whose research specifically focuses on the flows of plastic to and through small island developing states (SIDS). And I am thrilled and excited to be one of the 300 internationall selected women to participate in this research journey to learn, educate and help change perspectives and actions around plastics.

My voyage is Leg 14 - Cairns to Darwin, sailing through the islands of the Great Barrier Reef and the Torres Strait. The vessel eXXpedition (CIC) has contracted for the voyage is the SV Travel Edge.

Being selected from the many thousands of applicants to be a Research Crew Member on eXXpedition is a privilege! But to participate, all Research Crew are required to make a contribution to the eXXpedition research journey. For my leg, the Contribution is GBP4800 (around AUD9000). There are also costs for travel to and from the embarkation and disembarkation points, as well as other incidentals. This is where this GoFundMe page and your support comes in.

How can you get involved?
Join with existing supporters and the EarthCheck Research Institute and contribute to this campaign to raise funds for the Crew Contribution on eXXpedition - Leg 14!

Plus if you would like me to visit your community for a presentation or workshop to discuss plastics post-eXXpedition, send me an email and I can register you in the calendar for when I return. If you are keen to discuss any other corporate contributions, also send me an email as GoFundMe is not the place for those discussions.  Or what about supporting just because you think this is a valuable research project which will provide immense benefit for the future of how the world deals with plastic? I am really excited to be able to share this journey with anyone who supports me in this venture and am happy to deliver community-based updates!

Whatever your reason - Contribute today! The bulk of the Crew Contribution needs to be paid by 28 February 2020!

Thank you for your interest in supporting this unique experience! I am deeply grateful and look forward to sharing this experience with you!

Want to know the why, what and the 'then what' of  eXXpedition? Read on!

Why have I chosen to participate in eXXpedition?
Between 2004 and 2012 I had the privilege of living and working in Barbados, West Indies. My work during those 8 years focused on community-based environmental education at the Future Centre Trust, including many initiatives related to or focused on waste management. Developing the CoRe NETWORK initiative  with my friend and colleague Vicky Merrick, funded by the Coca-Cola Foundation, brought to life both the challenges of managing packaging, including plastics, but also the opportunities that exist for collective action.

Having been immersed in environment and community work for those 8 years, I returned to Australia to complete a Master of Development Practice, a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management, and to complete coursework towards a Graduate Certificate in Waste Management, all the while keeping my Caribbean experience and knowledge front of mind. In 2016, I applied for and was successful in being accepted into a PhD Candidature with the University of Queensland's School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Because of my experience in Barbados, other travels in Central and South America, the wider Caribbean, Indian Ocean region and most recently Bangladesh, I am accutely aware of the challenges faced to collect, separate, and effectively manage plastic in developing economies and in particular, islands. These challenges focus on limited resources (financial, human and land space), but they also importantly include limited economies of scale and geographical remoteness (within countries and to external markets).

Although my PhD focuses on plastics, I have chosen not to go deep into 'marine plastics' as there are many scientific studies being conducted to date, including those undertaken at the University of Plymouth , scientific partner to eXXpedition.

However, what I have found is by not engaging with or conducting field work into marine plastics, I am missing a part of the plastics puzzle. Participating in eXXpedition provides the first hand knowledge and experience of completing the puzzle as I head out into the world to share my research widely and help to generate change to #useplasticbetter.

What is eXXpedition?
eXXpedition is a Community Interest Company (CIC) and not-for-profit organisation that runs pioneering all-female sailing research expeditions to investigate the causes of and solutions to ocean plastic pollution.

eXXpedition is on a mission to help solve the plastic pollution crisis by empowering multidisciplinary all-female crews on board sailing expeditions around the world to conduct scientific research, explore solutions and understand how their unique skill sets can intersect the issue. 

Each eXXpedition voyage is designed to encourage collaboration between crew members and community groups, and to open conversations around female leadership, personal and environmental awareness, and cultural and societal shifts. 

Now this all might sound a little like a sailing holiday through idyllic locales... Well, like my PhD research, immersing yourself in island states when you have a mission of documenting plastic flows, is far from a holiday. And eXXpedition is no exception.

On board eXXpedition, Crew members contribute to data collection, adding to a global database of plastics collected throughout four of the five global ‘waste gyres’. The crew will share their multi-disciplinarity to learn and teach among themselves, as well as with communities visited along the voyage, and on their return to home port through various outlets to identify the impacts of plastics to the world’s oceans and seek to identify solutions. But also, as Crew, as part of the journey we volunteer to run the ship - from sail management to cleaning the toilets and all in between!

What is the purpose of eXXpedition?

The aims of eXXpedition are to:
● To collect scientific samples to feed into large-scale studies;
● To explore the scale of plastic pollution and the available solutions;
● To facilitate collaboration opportunities between the diverse crew of women – artists, scientists, filmmakers, sustainability professionals, businesswomen, sailors and so much more;
● To empower the all-female crew to become more effective ocean ambassadors; and
● To carry out outreach events , where possible, to engage local communities and generate press coverage of the issues and ask important questions.

For more information on the science of eXXpedition, check this link 

So after eXXpedition - then what?
As the last piece in my plastics puzzle, I will share my eXXpedition experience journey widely. I have allocated four weeks after my return from eXXpedition to deliver various community- based presentations, including to University and TAFE students studying plastics - from chemical compositions to packaging and design to social and behavioural studies of environmental decision making; to high school and primary school students interested in plastics as part of global trade, food delivery, and recycling and waste management; to community groups; to members of industry; and importantly to policy makers.

To catch those whom I may miss from this list I intend to develop and deliver a TEDx talk of the experience, to increase awareness and invite audiences to consider the full system of plastics and how we can collectively generate solutions to reduce plastics leaking into our environment.

In between time, those interested can follow my adventures in preparation for eXXpedition and on-board via the eXXpedition blog and my personal page to be set up by March 15, 2020.

Do you have any questions? Do you want more information on the voyage?  Email me at n.garofano@uq.edu.au

Donations ()

  • Starr Aviation Pty Ltd 
    • $100 
    • 1 d
    • $100 
    • 1 mo
  • Petra Eggl 
    • $100 
    • 1 mo
  • Yukie Tamura 
    • $60 
    • 1 mo
  • Claire Brown 
    • $100 
    • 1 mo
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Nicole Garofano 
Yeronga, QLD
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