The online to offline of cleaner oceans
Sustainability is an issue close to the hearts of the BIMobject team. That’s why BIMobject jumped at the opportunity to support the non-profit Plastic Free Seas as part of our charity initiative Building Hope. The Hong Kong-based organisation works on several levels to reduce plastic waste and pollution, a growing problem not just on local beaches, but in oceans across the globe. We talked to CEO and founder Tracey Read to learn more about the champions and challenges of plastic waste reduction.
Having gained experience as part of a waste pollution research team, Tracey founded Plastic Free Seas in 2013. She knew that being based in Hong Kong would allow her to tackle this global issue locally: The territory forms a key location, because a great deal of the world’s recyclables are sent through its free port. Tracey also realised her team would have to start by changing people’s way of thinking.
“There is a trend towards detachment from nature. Kids spend their time indoors and use digital tools to play. We want to make them feel excited about the outdoors again. But it’s the same with adults. Even though Hong Kong has fantastic scenery, people’s lifestyle tends to neglect it”, Tracey explains.
Digitalisation, she says, is therefore part of the problem. But it may also be the key to solving it. One of the organisation’s main efforts in 2018 is to transform their website.
“Our new website will become the go-to resource for anyone who wants to learn about plastic pollution and how to combat it. By providing an educational platform with easy-access information, we’re raising the issue in channels that fit with people’s behaviour. That way, it’s easy for kids to get that statistic they need for their school report, or for their teachers to download plastic marine pollution related lesson plans”, Tracey says.
The website will be made available in both English and Cantonese and serve as a portal for factual, accurate information.
But schoolchildren aren’t the only ones who benefit from the organisation’s educational efforts. Corporate programmes are another main focus area for Tracey and her team, who visit companies in Hong Kong to give lunch talks, create awareness, and change attitudes:
“We’ve worked with a range of different businesses, from banks and law firms to clothing companies to address the issue from their perspective. For example, some clothes are made from material that releases harmful plastic microfibres that are simply flushed out when the washing machine is emptied”, Tracey describes.
Helping people draw a connection between plastic waste and their everyday lives is fundamental to Plastic Free Seas. Focussing on local problems creates engagement and a sense of relevance, regardless of audience. Hands-on action is the perfect complement to learning facts and figures:
“We regularly organise beach clean-ups for both schools and companies. Collecting waste and restoring beaches themselves really helps connect the dots for the participants. And considering we’ve done hundreds of cleanups, it has real value, not just symbolic”, says Tracey.
To learn more about Plastic Free Seas and the work they do, visit plasticfreeseas.org
All images are © Tracey Read.