Plastic Oceans International and Breathe Conservation, two global nonprofit organizations dedicated to solving the plastic pollution problem, announced “Swim Against Plastic: Easter Island,” a campaign to raise awareness about plastic pollution with a world-record swim, education and beach cleanups on Easter Island in March.
Sarah Ferguson, a former national swimmer for South Africa and founder of Breathe Conservation, will attempt to set a world record to become the first person ever to swim the entire perimeter of Easter Island. Her journey will cover more than 40 miles (65 kilometers) through cold water and dangerous currents; the swim is estimated to take up to 24 hours to complete.
"This is a huge challenge, but my passion for ocean protection and rehabilitation is a strong driving force that fuels this dream," said Ferguson in a statement. "It is our responsibility to protect the ocean, and I'm proud to partner with Plastic Oceans International on this campaign to fight the problem of plastic pollution."
Located in the South Pacific Ocean between Chile and New Zealand, Easter Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site on Chilean territory that is considered the most remote inhabited island on the planet. The waters surrounding the island contain one of the highest concentrations of microplastics in the world, most of which originate from sources thousands of miles away. In addition, 20 tons of trash is produced daily on the island, so waste management issues, especially related to the growing tourism industry, are prevalent.
“Swim Against Plastic: Easter Island” includes a series of beach cleanups to help restore Easter Island's fragile environment. Plastic Oceans and Breathe Conservation are organizing the events with the island's local communities and nonprofit organizations, encouraging all residents to participate.
"The planet needs leaders to draw attention to the serious global plastic pollution problem worldwide—threatening the ocean, our food sources and the environment—to understand the dangers of and change how we think about and use plastic," said Julie Andersen, global executive director for Plastic Oceans International, in a statement. "By showing the world that our most valued and remote locations are not immune to plastic pollution, our goal is to inspire people to find solutions and eliminate use of single-use plastics that attribute to the problem."
Plastic Oceans and area residents will conduct a series of programs to determine the specific causes contributing to plastic pollution on Easter Island. Once the roots of pollution are targeted, they will work jointly to find solutions. Results and ways to prevent plastic pollution will be shared throughout local communities, with students and schools, charitable organizations, government officials and businesses.
Those interested can follow the progress of Ferguson's swim using #SwimAgainstPlastic.