Last year a beautiful traditional boat, representing an interesting project worth supporting, made a short pitstop in our marina. We had the opportunity to speak to Francesco Nanni (Founder and Director) and Fabio Badolato (Photographer, Filmmaker and Documentary filmmaker) from the engaged “The Blue Dream Project” team.
Plastic pollution in our oceans is a daunting problem that must be solved as quickly as possible. It threatens marine life, has an enormous influence on marine ecosystems and is now even being consumed by human beings in the form of microplastic. Microplastic are microscopic pieces of plastic (<5mm) that have eroded off larger debris and are now so small that they can even be consumed by tiny marine lifeforms, known as plankton. Like heavy metals, microplastic pieces cannot be metabolised by living creatures and therefore bioaccumulate up the food chain. This means that their concentrations are highest in the top predators of the marine food web, that includes marine mammals and large predatory fish. For now, very little is known about the movements and cycles of these tiny particles in our oceans.
“The Blue Dream Project” team developed a plan on how they intended to help solve the plastic problem and contribute to the protection of our oceans. They decided to build a traditional boat, a schooner, an endeavour that began in Nova Scotia, Canada in 2014. The idea was to use wood for the construction of the vessel, a natural, eco-friendly and non-modified building material that has little to do with our current consumerist, plastic society. The boat has a very special value in the eyes of the team as it represents a sustainable lifestyle where we consume as little and recycle as much as possible. In their opinion, we should use the plastic we cannot avoid responsibly, until an alternative material to plastic is created and equally integrated into our daily lives. The beautiful wooden boat therefore acts as an ambassador for the protection of marine flora and fauna and should arouse curiosity at marinas and harbours to look into the mission of the project.
The vessel crossed the Atlantic for the first time in autumn 2017 and spent the winter in Italy undergoing final preparations for an upcoming expedition. This summer, the “Mahayana” will sail across the Mediterranean and gather data that will contribute to the monitoring of microplastic in the region. The team will collect water samples so that the concentration and types of microplastic can be evaluated and archived. Of course GPS data and wind conditions also play an important role and will be documented throughout the journey. The main focus will be on nano plastics, tiny particles that are under 1mm in size and still require a lot of research. The acquired data will be shared with universities and collectively analysed.
Apart from their contribution to scientific research on microplastic concentrations, the team also considers raising awareness on the subject as one of their main goals. The “Blue Dream Project” would like to enhance the understanding of the plastic problem amongst communities by organising expeditions, workshops, internships, seminars, public lectures and artistic events. The main focus here is to encourage younger generations, particularly youths and small children, into choosing a more sustainable way of living and giving them ideas on how to do so. Using photos as well as video documentations of their travels, the team communicates the background of their work and the urgency of tackling the environmental issues caused by plastic pollution on social media and at local schools. The crew also intends to set up exhibitions of retrieved plastic trash in the marinas and harbors they dock at during their expeditions.
Another part of the blue dream is encouraging industrial innovation around the subject of biodegradable plastic and supporting campaigns that work to reduce plastic pollution. The team sees its work as a contribution to both the general public and to the protection of marine ecosystems and is extremely open to additional partnerships with groups that are engaged in helping to solve the plastic problem.
When asked what they enjoy most about the work involved in their project, Francesco and Fabio gave the following statements:
Francesco Nanni: “To be able to sow the seeds that could grow and touch the hearts of those around me gives me a wonderful feeling. Within this project we are able to improve our own personal approach to consumption in our daily lives and, at the same time, proceed with our mission to reach out to more people and encourage them to be more conscious and live sustainably. Our ambition in this project behaves like water being filled into a glass; when the glass is full, the water flows over the brim of the glass and spreads. I myself became more aware of the severity of the plastic problem over time and saw all the things we are doing that are just making it worse. It is important to me that we change the course of things. At times it can be daunting; not everyone you touch with your message might show signs of understanding. However, addressing the subject alone plants a seed of awareness so I believe there is hope”.
Fabio Badolato: “It makes me happy to learn from nature and share this knowledge with others. This work has a lot to do with improving your own personal approach in your daily life and involves multiple exchanges with other people. I enjoyed the woodwork during the construction of the boat. It makes sense to not only consume things but rather use them to gain more experience and knowledge”.
The “Blue Dream Project” is run by an engaged group of people that work for a healthier ocean with a genuine passion to share their knowledge with others and also gain some of their own on the way. The Lobosonda team has decided to support this project. On World Ocean`s day we will donate ten percent of our profits to the Blue Dream Project so that they may continue their fabulous work.
If you wish to make a contribution to the project or are curious about what other plans the Blue Dream Project has for the near future, visit their website: http://www.thebluedreamproject.org/our-project
by Fatima Kutzschbach