Update From Taronga Green Grant Winners - 'Take 3'

Update From Taronga Green Grant Winners - 'Take 3'

The last three months have

been very busy for the crew at Take 3 with

lots of exciting projects and a great deal of attention coming their way

surrounding co-founder Tim Silverwood’s expedition to the Great Pacific Garbage


Take 3 won last year’s

Taronga Green Grant, awarded to the best green initiative which would inspire

environmental change in the community.

Here is an update from Tim

about his voyage and opportunities for you to be involved in future Take 3


The Great Pacific Garbage

Patch…the mere mention of the place conjures images of a vast, obese,

monolithic ‘beast’ swamping the North Pacific like a wet blanket over a dreary

fire. Sorry to burst your bubble…the ‘floating island’ doesn’t exist. I know

this because I just spent two months examining the impact the accumulation of

discarded plastics is having amongst the network of currents that constitute

the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, otherwise known as the Great Pacific

Garbage Patch. I sailed 5000km from Honolulu to Vancouver with an international

team of researchers and environmentalists to see and document this marvel. The

results? Well, I’d be pleased if it were a ‘floating island’, if it were it

might be feasible for us to get out there and clean it up. But in fact, it’s

much worse than that…

My journey commenced in

Hawaii where I’d arranged to spend two weeks with the co-founders of Beach

Environmental Awareness Campaign Hawaii. Suzanne and Dean from BEACH have spent

over five years cleaning the beaches of Hawaii, educating the community on the

issue and encouraging people to choose sustainable alternatives to disposable

single use plastics. Together we travelled to a remote corner on the Big Island

where lies Kamilo Beach, toted ‘the world’s dirtiest beach’. Who would ever

have thought the world’s dirtiest beach would be on a remote coast off the

island paradise we know as Hawaii?

The 500m stretch of rocky

coast was absolutely covered with all manner of plastic debris from toilet

seats, toothbrushes, and tennis balls to mountains of rope, piles of crates,

umbrella handles and bottles, bottle caps and bottle necks. At a guess 99.9% of

the items on the shore were clearly not from Hawaii but from countries circling

the North Pacific ring from Asia to North America. The North Pacific Gyre, like

a laborious conveyer belt delivers new trash to Hawaii on each and every tide.

My home and courier for the

journey across the Pacific was be the 72ft Sea

Dragon, a racing yacht built for the 2004 Challenge Round the World Yacht

Race. As we set sail from Honolulu I said goodbye to the islands and hello to

the vast, unfamiliar blue. Never having sailed across an ocean I was

immediately struck by the enormity of the sea, this realisation that now more

than ever I really was just a speck on an immense blue planet.

Looking out upon the ocean on

the countless hours I spent steering the yacht, cleaning the deck, deploying

trawls and hoisting sails I never once saw an island of trash. That’s because

the island of trash doesn’t exist.  The

image of an ‘island’ was conjured by the media in the hype surrounding Captain

Charles Moore’s ‘discovery’ of the Garbage Patch in 1997. In fact we’ve known about

the accumulation of waste in this part of the ocean since the 1960’s and for

hundreds of thousands of years all manner of coconuts, driftwood and seed pods

would have drifted the same. But the difference is, this plastic isn’t going

anywhere. Plastic doesn’t biodegrade; it simply breaks apart into smaller and

smaller pieces. This is why it is more accurate to think of the Garbage Patch

as a giant plastic soup. Large items don’t retain their structure in the ocean

for long. The sun’s radiation and the physical motion of the sea causes it to break

up into small pieces – billions of pieces of plastic that descend throughout

the water quality where they mimic  the

food fish, birds, turtles and even whales like to eat. The impacts of marine

debris on wildlife are profound with millions of deaths each year, but what

about the impact on us? Do you want plastic in your sushi?

Once in our oceans we know

plastic kills marine life, makes our beaches look like rubbish tips, becomes

brittle and breaks apart into billions of pieces making it impossible to clean

up and is consumed by all manner of marine life including those that make up

the basis of our food chain. We’ve used more plastic in the last decade than we

have in the entire 100 years of the 20th Century, if we continue on

this path unabated what will it mean for our children, and their children? What

will the beach of the future look like and what marine animals will be left for

us to appreciate or eat without fear of contamination?

It is clear to me and to a

growing number of scientists and environmentalists that the time to act on this

issue is now. So please, re-evaluate your relationship with plastic. Re-think

your actions, do you really need that over packaged product, plastic bag,

plastic cup or plastic bottle or is there a reusable alternative you can adopt?

Remember to reduce, reuse and recycle but go above and beyond – vote with your

wallet – we need our producers to redesign products built to last, be highly

recyclable and made from recycled material.


3 – A Clean Beach Initiative asks people to simply take threepieces of

rubbish with them when they leave the beach, waterway or…anywhere. Get out

there and clean up our world, it’s easy, doesn’t cost you anything and makes

you feel great. 

Tim Silverwood is currently

visiting parts of Australia to give presentations on his expedition and to

screen the award-winning documentary all about plastic called ‘Bag It’.

New South Wales


6th           Sugarmill Surf Emporium, Narrabeen.

2/1329 Pittwater Rd. 7pm ‘Bag It’ and public premiere of ‘One Beach’

18th         Manly Ocean World. 6.30pm

20th         Mosman

Art Gallery, 6.30pm ‘Bag It’ and presentation.

21st         Gerringong Town Hall, Fern St Gerringong.


24th         Terrigal Surf Club 7pm (presentation

only, no film)

25th         Newcastle, Dixon Park Surf Club 7pm (presentation

only, no film)

26th         Forster NSW Venue TBC 7pm (presentation

only, no film)

9th           Newport Public School, Queens Pde

Pittwater 6pm



     Newcastle, TEDx event, Playhouse Theatre. 12pm. 




28th         James Cook University, Townsville, Room

101. 5-6pm. Guest Lecture only (no film).

29th         Base Hostel, Magnetic Island 6.30pm. ‘Bag

It’ and presentation.

30th         Reef HQ, Flinders St East. Townsville.

1pm-2.30pm ‘Bag It’ and presentation.

30th         Court Theatre, Stokes St. Townsville.

6pm for 7pm start. ‘Bag It’ and presentation.


15th         Brisbane venue TBC

16th        Sunshine Coast venue TBC


Western Australia


11th         Northbridge Piazza, Perth. Spaceship

Earth Film Festival 7pm

13th         Curtin University Sustainable Policy

Institute, Freemantle - 5.30pm

14th         Dunsborough – Three Bears Bar - 7pm ‘Bag

It’ and ‘One Beach’ films15th    Bunbury, Koombana Sailing Club 6.30pm