An Ocean Plastics Field Trip for Corporate Executives

Posted On Sep 7, 2019 By admin With Comments Off on An Ocean Plastics Field Trip for Corporate Executives


The subtropical island of Bermuda does not investigate numerous icebreakers, but on a warm May day, Dave Ford is standing on one, receive his shaky clients aboard. Technically, the RCGS Resolute, 400 paws long and eight floors high-pitched, is an ice-strengthened expedition ship, one class below an icebreaker. But the choice still seems invigorated, because as the factions of environmentalists and plastics managers arrive, the chill on the vessels is tangible, and the only way Ford’s vision of some sort of Paris Accord for plastics is going to happen is if a whole lot of icebreaking goes down.

Ford’s company, SoulBuffalo, takes corporate ministerials on epic jaunts( Antarctica, Kamchatka, Zimbabwe ), savors a little kumbaya into them, then sends them home fired up about corporate responsibility. As we stand on the deck of the Resolute and watch the tender deliver more of the 150 fares participating this four-day mission, he tells me that he started his profession as a hard-charging ad man in the tech world-wide, “but it wasn’t filling me up inside.” In 2008, at 28, he ceased and bought a one-way ticket to Argentina. For the next two years, he slapped around the planet’s remote corners, then spotcheck himself in Antarctica and felt his heart mingling with the vastness. “That trip opened me up, ” he says. “I knew immediately that I to be able to help others access the breakthroughs that can happen with intense travel experiences.”

SoulBuffalo’s previous safaruss has already been for small groups from single companionships, but as the scope of the plastics crisis has developed( spoiler alarm: it’s worse than you can possibly imagine ), Ford began to wonder if a big, boundary-crossing, experiential involvement could turn the tide. “I’ve ever believed that travel can captivate spell in a bottle, ” he says. “You know how when you tour with parties, your relationship can advance times in a matter of daylights? That’s what needs to happen out here.”

Ford is towering and scruffy. At 41, he still dresses in the just-slept-in jeans and T-shirts that make it easy to portrait him in his young, globe-trotting eras. That simplicity facilitates do the starch out of the clothings, which constitutes one of his purposes for this Ocean Plastics Leadership Summit: Put all the stakeholders on a ship, steam out to the plastic-studded consumes of the North Atlantic Gyre, assign snorkels, and, in a kind of epic swirly, stick their faces in the problem. Then haul everyone back aboard and hacker a solution to the fucking thing.

SoulBuffalo had to write a “very big check” to book the Resolute, which was en route to the Arctic from its January cruising grounds in Antarctica, before Ford knew if anyone would come to his party. “We bet the company on this, ” he professes, “pushed all our microchips into the middle.”

When I wants to know why, his utter rises. “How many whales with 60 pounds of plastic in their guts need to beach themselves? How numerous turtles with straws up their noses? ”




Plastic trash on a Bermuda beach

( Thomas Prior)


Snorkeling the gyre

( Thomas Prior)


Bottles are among the most common forms of plastic contamination.

( Thomas Prior)


Bridget Croke, rock climber, recycling guru, and vice president of Closed Loop Spouse

( Thomas Prior)

More, apparently, because the majority of members of the 70 organizations Ford invited said no. But before going down with his very pricey ship, he elected to raise the stakes. “You know what the tipping degree was? When we decided to invite Greenpeace. When people has understood that Dow and Greenpeace were going to be on the same ship, they were like, Whoa, this is real.”

And while Greenpeace may be the most anti-corporate of the greens on board, it’s not alone: Break Free from Plastic, Upstream, Ocean Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the 5 Gyres Institute are all now to hash it out with Dow, Procter and Gamble, Coca-Cola, Nestle Waters, GE, Colgate-Palmolive, Hasbro, Mary Kay, Kimberly-Clark, Clorox, HP, and other industry behemoths.( The 391 tons of carbon dioxide generated by this little soiree will be offset by SoulBuffalo through the Kariba Forest Conservation project in Africa .)

Quarters are close-fisted. Unless you’re willing to pay $ 25,000 for a private stateroom( which a few cases of the bigwigs are ), everyone has to share cabins, and one of the assignments is dropping mouths: the reps from Greenpeace and Nestle Waters–which have been at war for the past month, after Greenpeace propelled a campaign against the bottled-water giant–are bunking in a cramped stateroom with plots three paws apart, at Nestle Waters’ request.( “Haha, ” Ford initially wrote back. “Very funny.”)

As word spread that silos would be crumbling in the middle of the Atlantic, 20 firms said yes. But still, Ford says, “That’s fifty noes! ” I won’t call out the chickenshits, but you can pretty much figure it out. There are no retailers on this carry. There are also no petroleum corporations, and plastic is basically oil beat into a hard, waxy meringue.

But Ford says he’s fine with the noes. “This isn’t a boot camp for clueless directors. It’s a leader summit.”

And leadership begins with service. No sooner have we all checked into our areas than we have to get right back off the ship. Roll up your sleeves, Ford tells us. Time to clean up a beach.

At first glance, Long Bay Beach appears suspiciously like paradise. The gilded sand radiances. The gesticulates glisten. Bermuda is a prosperou island that regularly empties up its shoreline. Sure, the peculiar flip-flop is poking out of the wrack, but rather than any kind of environmental feeling, I feel a strong desire to work on my tan.

Then Marcus Eriksen, cofounder of the 5 Gyres Institute and the expedition’s lead scientist, tells me to look closer. A former Marine with a buzz cut and unyielding blue-blooded sees, he’s been crusading against ocean plastics for 15 times. In 2008, he lashed 15,000 plastic bottles underneath an age-old Cessna fuselage and voyaged it from California to Hawaii to raise awareness. He’s preceded junkets to all five of the world’s major ocean gyres–vortexes of current where microplastics and other marine scrap whirl. He’s wrote articles about the plastics determined there and lobbied relentlessly.

None of which has made a dent in the business practices of the large-scale plastics creators, something he’s fondly hoping to change in the next 72 hours. “This is huge, ” he tells me. “Nothing like this has ever happened. It’s been my dream my part profession to make the people who run the plastics industries out to sea. Once you’re at sea, you can’t go anywhere. You have to talk.”

And one of the things he most wants to talk about is right at my feet.

At first all I see is sand and seaweed. But then, at the high-tide line, something off-color catches my see. Then something pink. I kneel to get a better look, and–impossible–the shell bits resolve themselves into a confetti of pigments. Half the chips I thought were sections of husk are actually bleached plastic.

recyclingA Bermudan contemplates his future in a plastic-filled world.( Thomas Prior)

The problem with plastic is that it never decomposes, never goes away. But contrary to popular fallacy, Eriksen explains, it doesn’t form swimming islands of scrap. It collapses. “Sunlight draws it brittle, the wavings mash it invariably, and the fisheries sector and turtles and seabirds merely tear the stuff apart.” The bits get smallest and smaller until they’re tinier than a particle of rice and modify as microplastic. By Eriksen’s count, there are more than five trillion parts of microplastic in the oceans–more than there are fish–and despite some well-publicized debacles like Ocean Cleanup’s dysfunctional 2,000 -foot-long boom, which was supposed to sweep the seas free , no pressure on earth is going to get that plastic out. The best we can do is prevent more from going in.

I’m still absorbing this when a neighbourhood ecologist takes a group of us around a point to Nonsuch Island, a sanctuary for the Bermuda petrel, one of the world’s rarest seabirds. The island is off-limits to the public and doesn’t encounter regular sea cleanups. As a result, now, collected into a big bank, is 18 months’ worth of civilization’s detritus: bottle detonators, toothbrushes, tires, cools, crates, tethers, webs, glue bottles, soda bottles, bleach bottles, jerricans, fishing schleps, fishing course, styrofoam beakers, shellfish sackings, Parkay bottles, sleds, spackling buckets, mesh, playthings, Ensure bottles, Glade air fresheners, gondola bumpers, fencing, sneakers, flip-flops, auto consoles, cushions, spray guns, shotgun eggshells, mattresses, swims , pates, leeches, placing, descriptions, caps, hard hat, ribbons, zip ties, trash bags, grocery pockets, pail manages, foam buoys, sunglasses, suck lids, negligees, milk jars, tent bets, boat hulls, and the thousands of plastic octopus bunkers that washed up from Africa. What’s weird is that almost every piece has serrated hems. “Those are turtle pierces, ” Eriksen points out. “See those smaller triangular morsels? Triggerfish.”

From the largest whales to the smallest zooplankton, everything is eating plastic. Plastic molecules at sea act as magnets for toxic chemicals and organic pollutants. Plastic has demonstrated to make shellfish sluggish. It’s in virtually all seabirds, which becomes obvious when they die, flesh dissolve apart to reveal the plastic within like junk in a springtime snowbank.

Back in 1950, at the dawning of the plastics era, the nations of the world spawned really two million metric tons of the stuff per year. By the seventies, we were up to 50 million metric tons a year, and by the nineties, 150 million metric tons. Then creation exploded as the Asian economies taken away from: 213 million metric tons in 2000, then 313 million metric tons in 2010, and now more than 400 million metric tons per year. About half of this is single-use plastic–the purses, bottles, spoonfuls, straws, sachets, and wrappings that induce modern life uberconvenient and entirely disposable–and most of it has nowhere to go.

Recycling is a joke. For all our careful screen, little than five per cent of plastic in the U.S. does recycled. That’s not a typo. The only types of plastic that are widely recycled are# 1 PET( soda and water bottles) and# 2 HDPE( milk jars and laundry-detergent containers ), and even they are guaranteed to be recycled only if they’re clean, pure, and not desegregated with nonrecyclables. Nearly all else does incinerated or dropped into the ground or the sea.

In the U.S ., which has a well-developed waste-management system, merely about 2 percent of recycled plastic comes mishandled, gist it could potentially wind up in the ocean. For developing countries like China, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines, 70 to 90 percentage goes into the drink. Until 2018, when China stopped accepting most of our recycling, a lot of that plastic started out in America. Chinese recyclers picked out the usable fragments and disposed of the residual. Staring at that ridge of very familiar parts, I are simply wonder how many fragments of plastic I’ve tossed into recycling bins over the years that were soiled or the incorrect various kinds of plastic or really desegregated with too many questionable things and wound up in the South China Sea.

Back in 2010, scientists estimate, the seas and oceans contained about eight million metric tons of plastic. Now we add that much every year. Today there are about 75 million metric tons of plastic in the naval home, and in five years we can expect 150 million metric tons.

Perhaps this explains why the whales “of the worlds” deter beaching themselves and expiring with hunks of plastic in their bowels, a kind of gruesome global dissent. And why defects in the Mariana Trench, 36,000 feet below the ocean’s surface, are compressing plastic.

So are you, but we’ll get to that later.

The North Atlantic Gyre is one of the three enormous endpoints for the world’s plastic. It and the Indian Ocean Gyre each restraint about 60,000 tons of the stuff, a flesh topped exclusively by the trash in the North Pacific Gyre( a.k.a. the Great Pacific Garbage Patch ), which holds 100,000 tons. Each gyre has its own character, according to Eriksen. “The North Pacific is the fishing-gear gyre. The North Atlantic is more like the bottle-cap gyre.”

The best arrange to find those bottle covers is inside the free-floating sargassum seaweed that accumulates in an area of the North Atlantic Gyre known as the Sargasso Sea.

“To the heart of the gyre! ” Ford addrest the captain of the Resolute, a no-nonsense Russian.

“I have no idea where that is, ” the command replied.

“Just head east until we hit seaweed.”

As we spear through calm oceans, we begin our three-day “design lab.” That’s tech-bro talk for what used to be called brainstorming: get as many different perspectives as possible on how plastic leakages out of the circular economy, break into multidisciplinary radicals, stress-test the best plans against the needs of all stakeholders, then coming back here as a group on the final day with concrete action plans.

The ship is a rolling spark session. Bonnie Monteleone–a North Carolina artist who composes Hokusai beckons out of ocean plastic–is schmoozing with Ellen Jackowski of HP, which is incorporating millions of Haiti’s plastic bottles into ink cartridges. Gaelin Rosenwaks, a filmmaker fresh off a submarine investigate of Belize’s Great Blue Hole with Richard Branson, is chatting with the AI guru Tom Gruber, one of Siri’s discoverers, who has become a prominent ocean advocate since retiring from Apple in 2018. A dude from the World Bank is clustering with Tensie Whelan, the onetime chairman of Rainforest Alliance, who now heads up New York University’s Stern School of Business.

I sidle up to Bridget Croke, vice president of Closed Loop Partners, an impact-investment firm that steers coin from corporations toward recycling innovations. Croke, “whos also” a pretty badass rock climber, strong-armed a lot of her consumers onto the Resolute. “All of a sudden they decided they couldn’t miss it, ” she says.

Considering the fast with which the world is turning against single-use plastic, showing up seems like a no-brainer. Plastic pouches and bottles are becoming as socially toxic as cigarettes. Hundreds of U.S. metropolitans, states including California and Hawaii, and countries such as China, France, Kenya, South africans, India, and Saudi Arabia have all announced proscriptions, and more are on the way.

“The business that are here are smart, ” says Croke. “They understand the trends coming down the pike. What business leader would say no to that possibility? ”

Well, apparently 50 of them, but never mind, the icebreaking has begun in the aft lounge, where Greenpeace and Nestle Waters are on stagecoach for a “Sleeping with the Enemy” panel discussion. John Hocevar, the ocean-campaigns director at Greenpeace, gapes a bit frightened by the eyes of so many longtime foes. “I was just saying to someone on board,’ Oh, the last time I was at your office I was hanging off the breast of your building.’ And the last time I was at Nestle’s office we were there with a giant scrap monster.”

Hocevar is long and lean, with a graying goatee and body-length tattoos. He’d be at home in Brooklyn, but his roommate on this trip-up is Nestle Waters’ prime sustainability officer, David Tulauskas. Clean-cut and Midwest friendly, Tulauskas aimed sustainability efforts at General Motors before changing to Nestle Waters in March 2019.

When Tulauskas provided his sleepover invite, Hocevar was guarded. “I regularly have a discussion with parties we’re racing safaruss against, ” he last-minute discloses to me, “but sharing a small room? And a shower? That’s emphatically next-level.” Many Greenpeacers were against it–espionage !– but he thought it was a rare opening. “For this insane experiment to make any sense, we have to establish a real connection, ” he says. “We have to build some sort of a human relationship. But ultimately, he represents a company that we are campaigning against for the right reasons. They have a big footprint, and they have make extremely limited officials responsible for it.”




A Bermuda beach

( Thomas Prior)


Beach cleanup in Bermuda

( Thomas Prior)


Dive teach and naval instructor J.P. Skinner

( Thomas Prior)


Fibers are a particularly dangerous type of litter plastic.

( Thomas Prior)


Dave Ford gives the flavor for the summit

( Thomas Prior)

Nestle Waters( whose portfolio of about a dozen firebrands includes Arrowhead and S.Pellegrino) creates 1.7 million metric tons of plastic carton each year( exceeded simply by Coke’s three million metric tons ), nearly all of it single-use. “We’ve done brand examines after beach cleanups around the world, ” Hocevar says. “Everywhere we look, we find that the companies producing the litter are American or European.” In 239 cleanups throughout the world, Coca-Cola was the most common brand, followed by PepsiCo and Nestle Waters. Polystyrene was the most common material, followed closely by PET.

For its part, the plastics industry points toward the need to fix waste-management systems in the countries doing the polluting. But to Hocevar, it’s disingenuous to blame beings in Southeast Asia. “These fellowships are fully aware that their container is not going to be recycled, and hitherto they’re flooding those sells with this material.” To him the bottom line is simple: “Single-use plastic has to go.”

Eriksen agrees that would go a long way toward solving the problem. “For a long time, the industry has harped on customer behaviour and deflected all responsibility for how plastic is used in society.” The onus should be on companies, he says, to reduce their container and “ve been coming” with new delivery systems. Instead they’re pushing chemical recycling. “That’s the new buzzword. You’re gonna hear a lot about it on the boat. You’ll hear’ chemical recycling’ every other word.”

True that. A fortune of beings here are pretty jazzed about chemical recycling, which can take the worst plastics, all the unrecyclable stuff, and concoct them down into oil. If I’m China or Vietnam right now, bleeding rivers of plastic into the sea, that would sound pretty good to me. But to Eriksen, it’s a Band-Aid that precisely perpetuates the fossil-fuel economy. Considering the urgency, says Croke, whose Closed Loop Partners has invested in chemical recycling, the only strategy that does appreciation is all of the above. “There’s nothing we don’t need to do.”

I’m still stewing on that, thinking that whatever PR genius has come forward with the expression substance recycling should never operate again, when a special announcement crackles over the Resolute’s loudspeakers: Sargassum ahoy.

As the ship crane lowers colors Zodiacs into the swell, the crew of the Resolute gives us our snorkel briefing: Here’s how to use your snorkel. Here’s how to use your life jacket. Don’t take it off under any circumstances. Accustomed to Arctic ailments, the marines is somewhat freaked out by the was just thinking about 150 mass bobbing in the sea, but they reel with the propose. We flop like penguins from a metal gangway into bucking boats, and then we’re off.

I find myself up front, between Stan Bikulege, the chairman and CEO of Novolex, one of the world’s largest plastic-bag creators, and Bruce Karas, the vice president for the environment and sustainability for Coca-Cola North America. To anti-plastic crusaders, Bikulege is the devil. He’s too a nice guy who hangs on to the back of my life jacket as I lean over the figurehead of the Zodiac to carry overtake packs and sneakers out of the sea. But sometimes you time find yourself on the wrong side of history.

Karas is here, as far as I can tell, to not get left in the dirt as the issue evolves. Coca-Cola–which has spewed plastic across the planet like few other corporations and has staunchly resisted bottle legislations, one of the most effective ways to increase recycling rates–has not been a leader on specify the plastics crisis. From what Karas tells me, he’d like it to be. “I have to be able to carry the theme back to our franchisees that I’ve been to the gyre, ” he says. “I’ve seen it, I’ve supported the plastic in my hands, and it’s real.”

That shouldn’t be a problem. We snorkel through alphabet soup, obtaining spoons and toothbrushes and bottle detonators. I’m never out of reach of another patch. I grab a part of sargassum, I cause it a shake underwater, and abruptly I’m in a blizzard world, white specks swirling all the countries of. We don’t hear any of Karas’s bottles or Bikulege’s luggage, but that’s because such things disintegrate fast, helped along by insignificant naval life that can pick a single plastic handbag into 1.8 million micropieces.

recycling5 Gyres cofounder Marcus Eriksen( Thomas Prior)

Back on the Resolute, we pile our booty into a creepy-crawly altar, covered by a lavatory posterior, and break into a dozen design-lab units. Croke peels off with the money folks to crunch opinions on fund. People from Dow, the World Bank, and the Pew Charitable Trusts positioned their heads together on new groceries for abused plastic. Tulauskas conducts a wildly eclectic crew trying to disrupt retail packaging that includes directors from Dow, Clorox, and Kimberly-Clark, the founder of a startup announced TAP that’s been money as the Waze of irrigate, senior officials from 5 Gyres, NYU’s Tensie Whelan, Gaelin Rosenwaks, and Ovie Mughelli, the loom onetime fullback for the Atlanta Falcons, who has started his own environmental foundation.

The groups cluster; the hours fly by; articulates rise in frustration and fall in consilience; the windows of the Resolute fill with Post-it Tone as I dolefully watch the blue sea flash by behind them.

That evening I drink a beer with Tulauskas and ask him how he’s getting along with his roommate. “Great, ” he says. He and Hocevar have shared lots of personal details. “I know that his parrot is freakin’ crazy, and I know he has a beagle listed Otis and a bluetick hound.” The darknes was not without publications, nonetheless. “Apparently, I retained him up with snoring, for which I rationalize. I was hoping the rocking of the ship would stir me sleep like a baby.”

Somewhere amid the snoring and small talk, they got into it. “We did exchange high-level business positions, ” he says. “He shared his opinions on Nestle Waters. We has spoken about his criteria for corporate booking. It was teaching. I feel like it would be a lot easier to reengage if we ever get the chance.”

Powerful day, Tulauskas acknowledges. “Seeing all that plastic speaks for itself. How do we close the loop? We can design lighter bottles. We can do it in ways that do recycling more efficient. We own that. But we need to move faster and farther with the implementation of its recycled material, and there’s enormous marriages here for that.”( Periods after the journey, Nestle Waters will announce that Poland Spring plans to be the first great liquid brand to transformed into 100 percent recycled bottles .)

We drain our beers and watch the sun sink into the ocean. “This needs to be a transformative event for me, ” Tulauskas says softly. “I need to come back a new person.”

By day two, I’ve recognized the espresso machine on deck five as the suffocate time through which the part conference moves. I stake out a nearby counter, and parties stumble past and keep telling me things they shouldn’t.

I hear that Coca-Cola is secretly planning for a post-single-use-plastics future. Ask Coke about that, my generator sighs to me. I can’t, because I’m not supposed to know.

I learn that, back in December, when it looked like SoulBuffalo wouldn’t be able to pull the expedition together, Ford’s partners began referring to it as the Gyre Festival, after the disastrous Fyre Festival that so famously belly-flopped in the Bahamas in 2017. But the scoop that darkens my date is the rumor of a disturbing brand-new study , had still not been exhausted, forecast that we each have about a credit card’s worth of plastic in our form, to which I react:( A) What the fucking are you talking about ?, and( B) How do I get onto to check?

Later I check out the details with other scientists on the vessels. There’s a unpleasant consensus that the plastics crisis is much more than an ocean issue. As microplastic obstructs breaking down, it eventually becomes big enough to pass through cell walls and move into parts and flesh. Yes, that makes it’s in our seafood, but intersecting calamari off your roll won’t help. It’s in our beer, our salt, our tap water, and our bottled water, sometimes at accumulations of thousands of specks per liter. The average soap load of robes launchings 700,000 plastic microfibers. A single automobile trip-up lashes glooms of microparticles off our tires. Plastic sloughs from civilization like forage off the back of a chicken wagon.

No one actually knows what effect it’s having on our lungs, intestines, blood, or mentalities. The science is too new. One source tells me to look out for some freaky news about what it’s doing to our braces. Another mentions carcinogens and endocrine disrupters. But the reality is that we don’t know shit. It’s one large-hearted worldwide experimentation. Check back in 30 years.

And that, Hocevar accepts, may be why so many corporations are suddenly interested in changing their business model. “I think the time is coming when some of these companies are going to have their tobacco instant, ” he says. “I can perfectly paint some of these managers having to stand up in tribunal and answer questions about what they knew about the health impacts of their box and what the fuck is did about it.”

By day three the bar is empty. The Jacuzzi suds forlornly. These beings are machines. It’s our last full epoch at sea; the skipper has been told to just drive around, fingernails on the chalkboard of his highly scheduled soul, and even when the bawl extends out that more sargassum matteds ought to have sighted, almost no one ditches their committees. But I basically run to the Zodiac, where I attach the spray people: Eriksen, Rosenwaks, a dive instructor and marine campaigner from Bermuda named J.P. Skinner, and Tom Gruber, who sees my question to him.

“What’s an AI guy doing here? ” he says. “Basically, I do intelligence. Siri was individual intelligence, but I too do collective intelligence.” And that, Gruber says as he meddles with some huge underwater camera from the near future, is something we urgently need right now. “Our brains didn’t evolve for beings civilizations. The election process is broken. It no longer creates excellence leaders. You end up with Trump and Brexit. So government is irrelevant, but business leaders are starting to step up, and that’s what you’re seeing on this ship. We may be at a turning point in how we play collectively.”

Gruber says he’s been to other save-the-ocean conventions, and this one feels different. “There’s a ray of hope here that’s not typical. Maybe we’ll be able to look back and say,’ I was on that ship when things started to change.’ ”

And with that, we all back-flop into the water and badger Steve, our minder from the Resolute, to let us ditch our life jackets.




Greenpeace’s John Hocevar

( Thomas Prior)


5 Gyres’ Marcus Eriksen

( Thomas Prior)


Post-it Record aboard the Resolute

( Thomas Prior)


The writer( far right) on a snorkeling outing

( Thomas Prior)


Life-jacket instruct

( Thomas Prior)

“If you have to dive under to get a photo, we can use the buddy system, ” Steve says grudgingly. “Take off your life jacket, hand it to your chum, and briefly dive under while your friend remembers eyes on you.”

“Steve, will you be my chum? ” I question, shucking my jacket.

“Sure, pas it over.”

Eriksen is next. “Steve, can you be my chum? ”

“OK, sure.”

Soon Steve is everybody’s buddy, a waft coatrack, and we’re all dolphining under the sargassum.

In the water, I forget all about the plastic. I’ve snorkeled the Caribbean, hurdle ridges, and crystalline reservoirs, but never in mile-deep ocean. I gaze down through the bluest blue I’ve ever known, and my knowledge exits as blank and content as a child’s.

Eriksen shoots beneath me in a MORE OCEAN LESS PLASTIC T-shirt. Rosenwaks mermaids by in a wetsuit, photographing video on her two-handed camera. Skinner is deep underwater deeming a GoPro straight overhead, slowly pirouetting toward the surface like Esther Williams. Everyone looks like X-Men against a blue-blooded screen.

I churn sargassum beneath the surface with my forearms and dive down through it. The color meets me gasp through my snorkel, gilded galaxies in a cobalt cosmos. When I surface, a petrel has come winging over to see what the heck we’re doing in its world, and then Rosenwaks poppings up beside me. At that moment, the Resolute and the Zodiac are somewhere in the distance behind us, and it’s exactly her and me and the sea and this stylish little bird turning gyres around us. Rosenwaks says she feels so small-time, and I babble unintelligently about the blue before coming out and saying what I’m truly concluding: It’s the color of God, and I can’t believe it’s still here.

As we foreman back toward Bermuda, 100 miles and closing, the design sprint propagandizes well past dinner. In the morning, we’ll arrive in port and leader back to our lives, and you can feel a suggestion of panic set in. We know that one of the world’s most challenging questions is not going to get solved in three days on a boat; we just need to know that we’ve turned this icebreaker in the right direction.

Late at night, the bleary-eyed crews share their hypothesis. A few resonate refreshingly real. Mary Kay announces a brand-new payoffs program to get its beauty consultants to recycle their cosmetics containers. A group including executives from Dow and the World Bank proposes a reward on maiden plastics, to be used as a credit to reduce the cost of using recycled plastic. It’s like a carbon levy, and we all turn and stare at one another. Did they truly just say that?

The most original doctrine comes from David Tulauskas’s crew. ZeroHero, as it’s announced, would be a section–heck, maybe a whole aisle–of big-box supermarkets devoted to zero-waste products. To be eligible for the ZeroHero aisle, commodities could be package-free, refillable, delivered from a dispensary, or otherwise ultralight in their footprint. The platform would have its own label, promotion, possibly even a dedicated check-out line. It’ll need a big-box retailer to play ball, but half the labels on the boat are already included in, and schemes are quickly manufactured for cross-industry working groups in the U.S. and UK.

It’s wildly grandiose, and ZeroHero gets an ovation. Just like that, a swooning gleaming of collective ability originated from the primal capitalist muck.

recyclingSiri codeveloper Tom Gruber( Thomas Prior)

Even Hocevar resounds willing to give his roommate the benefit of the doubt. “I do think he came to Nestle Waters to try to turn the company into a sustainability ruler, ” he says with a sigh. “I don’t know how on earth he thinks that’s going to happen. But he seems like a gamer.”

So does Ford. Before I disembark the next morning, I tell him to get some sleep. No term, he says. “I’m trying to secure the ship for next year’s summit.”

I ask if he’ll be reaching out to the 50 noes.

“Absolutely. I’m idealistic we can turn most of them into yeses.” Then he pauses. “But to be honest, two of the biggest oil corporations in the world have already told me resoundingly that they won’t be a part of any collaborative summit like this. So I’ll make 48. ”

I tell him I’ll be curious to see who’s on that boat, then I hasten to the airport to catch my flight back to New York. As the plane makes off, I can see the Resolute in the refuge, a ridiculously small oval shrinking to a pinpoint, all of Bermuda dissolving into the eggshell blue around it. I push the seat back, massage my sore snorkeling legs, and refuse the flight attendant’s offer of a plastic bowl for my sea three times.

Contributing editor Rowan Jacobsen( @rowanjacobsen) is the author of seven books, including Shadows on the Gulf and The Living Shore.

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