"A 33-day trip across the South Atlantic seeing micro-plastics in every ocean sample, changed the course of my life."
We sat down with Carolynn Box, Science Programs Director at 5 Gyres Institute and co-founder of Goods Holding Company
December 12, 2018
A: My life changed after my first 5 Gyres Expedition in 2011, a 33-day trip across the South Atlantic. After seeing micro-plastics in every ocean sample, even when we were 1000 nautical miles from land, I decided to change course and apply my coastal management skills to fight plastic pollution. I've now traveled over 16,000 nautical miles on eight large scale Expeditions and over the last year I’ve designed and managed a San Francisco Microplastic Project. The results are discouraging, but I stay positive by focusing on the passionate and smart people that I have met throughout my journey. We’ve got to focus on the solutions. This is why I started my side hustle with fellow activist, Eva Holman.
Q: Where is the most interesting place you've visited on a 5 Gyres expedition, and why?
A: The west coast of Greenland! What made it most unique for me was the fact that we collected micro-plastics in waters where we had to steer our zodiac around icebergs. From Greenland, we crossed Baffin Bay and following the Northwest Passage. It was powerful to be following early explorers from 165 years go, while documenting plastic pollution. One minute we'd be looking at 2000 year old lichen and the next minute we'd be picking up a plastic chip bag from the shoreline.
Q: What is your inspiration behind Goods Holding Company?
A: After documenting plastic pollution around the world and exploring solutions, it's clear that we have a big task ahead of us. Part of the solution is to build new tools that help individuals and families use less plastic. Our glass jars have the tare weight printed on the side of them so that you can skip a step at the grocery store and take your filled jar right up to the cashier without pre-weighing. No plastic bag needed.
Q: How do you live a more zero waste life?
A: I'm hyperaware of my plastic consumption and I try to limit plastics, especially single use plastic items. I buy food in paper packaging and what’s available in the bulk bins. I have a veggie box delivered to my house. I buy toilet paper wrapped in paper. I use bar soap. I use face location that comes in a glass jar. I've attempted to make body lotion but realized that there’s no need with Samudra's body butter. Shilpi (Samudra founder) has perfected it.
Q: What’s your number one tip for people aspiring to live a plastic-free life?
A: Do your best and get creative. It's hard to be completely plastic free. But if you can reduce your single-use plastic footprint, this is something to be proud of.
Join the #SamudraSquad and ‘Choose To Refuse’ single-use plastic.