A DROP IN THE OCEAN
The Roz Savage interview
FLOATING alone on a tiny boat in the middle of the great Pacific Ocean should be more than enough to keep anyone awake at night.
Not so Roz Savage.
No. For her, gazing up at the stars from her small cabin on the sea, it was the plight of the environment that gripped her thoughts, had her head spinning, when she should have been grabbing some much needed kip.
Hours earlier Roz had been speaking to the crew of JUNK, a makeshift craft made out of plastic bottles, exploring what waste there is in the sea, and she was troubled by what they had found.
She said: “They showed me what they’d caught in the mesh bag they were towing behind their boat.
“There was more plastic matter than organic matter, the plastic outnumbered the different kinds of plankton.
“It was an appalling sight, because when the bits of plastic are that small you can’t go out there and just clean up the ocean.
“They will be there forever. Those tiny pieces are out there to stay and if they get into the food chain it will eventually reach evolution at the higher levels – i.e., us.”
The encounter, thousands of miles from land, helped inspire Roz to raise awareness of the human made problems caused by plastic. Having already conquered the Atlantic
rowing solo, she decided to use her adventure over the Pacific to help highlight a place at sea called the North Pacific Garbage Patch, or gyre, where a vortex of fast flowing currents traps particles.
It is here the remains of man made plastics – bags, packaging, wrapping, etc. – collect in the water, unable to break down. The gyre stretches hundreds of miles.
Ocean life, birds, mammals, fish, feed freely there, taking in the toxic plastic with the plankton. The
toxins enter our food chain when a contaminated fish is caught for human consumption.
Roz’s efforts are helping to bring the crisis to light. “Raising awareness is the first step,” she says. “I’ve had comments via my website from people in the US who weren’t aware of the Garbage Patch. They had never really been confronted by the consequences of endless plastic bags.
“Some say thanks for bringing this to our attention, and others say they now do their weekly grocery shop with reusable bags. We can all do our bit.”
For Roz, that’s the whole point: “People say it’s all hopeless, that we’re in huge trouble and that nothing they do will make any difference.
“But if we focus on the tiny little things that we can all do from day to day, at very little inconvenience or cost, it can have a huge impact on the environment.
“I’m trying to say to people that they do have the power to do something. If they do their bit, become responsible consumers day after day, just making those right decisions, then it really does help.
“We got ourselves into this mess not so much through dramatic events like the Chernobyl, or whatever, but by the little decisions we take and habits we have as human beings, day after day,
multiplied by the six billion of us.”
Next May, Roz sets off on another adventure,
heading out from Hawaii to remote islands in the South Pacific.
This time, she wants to put the focus on renewable energy, and promoting the importance of adopting a greener lifestyle, day by day.
She said: “When you spend a lot of time out on your own on the ocean it gives you a different perspective on human behaviour. Sometimes you come back to dry land and look at how we as a species are
behaving and think – actually, that really doesn’t make sense.
“Here we are on a planet of finite size generating enormous amounts of rubbish, at an ever increasing rate, as the population increases and our individual consumption habits change as well.
“It stands to reason that is not a sustainable situation and sooner or later we’re going to be up to our knees in our own rubbish and it’s not going to be a nice place to live anymore.