An Ocean of Opportunities

 In By the Ocean we Unite Blog, Denmark 2018

Tuesday March 7th 2017 we organized the first edition of ‘An Ocean of Opportunities’, together with the Stockholm Resilience Centre. Jessie Kroon, co-founder of the first Dutch zero waste lifestyle blog, wrote a great article about the event. Read it here.

Check out the pictures here!

An Ocean of Opportunities – Impact Hub Amsterdam

Saving the world? It starts with You(th)!

The problem of plastic pollution is real. It’s something everyone attending the lecture evening ‘An Ocean of Opportunities’, hosted by By the Ocean we Unite and the Stockholm Resilience Centre in collaboration with the Impact Hub Amsterdam and Heroes & Friends can agree on. Fortunately, there are many individuals and early-stage entrepreneurs with a clear goal in mind: taking part in a worldwide solution.

On March 7, the Impact Hub Amsterdam was filled with people looking for change. Social entrepreneurs, young professionals and activist hippies: they were all united to get inspired by the six initiatives that presented their plastic-related subject. Wieke van der Zouwen, accelerator program manager at the Impact Hub Amsterdam welcomed everyone at the venue and stressed out the importance of inspiring, enabling and connecting with each other. Together we can make a difference!

Get informed to get united

Only if we are informed and decide to unite we can make a difference, explained Nanne van Hoytema, Scientific Research Coordinator of By the Ocean we Unite. Patricia Villarrubia from the Stockholm Resilience Centre expanded on this a little more. With their research on landscapes, marine and urban environments they try to give a evidence-based view on the problems. Patricia is currently conducting research on the feasibility of integrating marine plastics pollution within the Planetary Boundaries Framework: a strong and visual tool to show how much our planet can bare without crossing its own boundaries. From 1964 till now our plastic production has increased twentyfold into 300 million tons of plastics – recently a beached whale in Norway was found with  30 plastic bags in his stomach. Shocking numbers? That’s also what Maria Westerbos from the Plastic Soup Foundation thought. In 2011, after getting involved in the plastic soup problem, she decided to quit her job as a successful television maker and focus her life on the biggest polluter of our ocean: plastics. By uniting with 92 NGOs all over the world and collaborating with brands like Adidas, G-Star and organisations like Parley for the Oceans she managed to create awareness campaigns that were spread all over the world and got a ban on several microbeads. Her motto? “Stop thinking, start doing. But do it with some humour!”

You(th) are the change

She definitely wasn’t the only one with this perspective: Kristal Ambrose from the Bahamas Plastic Movement found out that combining fun activities and humour with information and research is the best way to create social change and inspire youth to get involved in the problem ánd solutions. By organizing five-day summer camps, based on her four principles research, education, citizen science and policy change, she managed to activate 4000 students all over the world. “The plastic movement is a movement by… well…. basically me and everyone who’s in my surroundings”, explains Kristal. “Someone got to get started and I was that one on the Bahamas. I want to inspire people all over the Bahamas and just decided that I was going to solve this problem. Right now, right here. That’s how change starts!”

Have an idea? Make it happen!

Kristal was not the only one that decided to take immediate action when she became aware of the plastic problem. “When I noticed that the place where I liked to surf a lot, the IJmond area, contained more plastics than seaweeds, I decided that I was going to do something about it”, tells Nikki Spil from De Zeeboerderij IJmond. “I decided to start a seaweed farm: in the summer we grow Sea lettuce and in the winter Saccharina”. Nikki teamed up with researchers from Wageningen University to discover the CO2-filtering effects of seaweeds and to come up with new biobased products, grown in the sea. “Our first lamp made from 100% sea lettuce just recently became a reality. How cool is that? We definitely want to be an incubator of those products and explore new opportunities!”.

Bubbling ideas

This revolutionary way of out-of-the-box thinking was not only applied by Nicky. Anne Marieke, Saskia and Francis from the Great Bubble Barrier spent evenings and evenings to come up with an elegant, effective and total solution for marine litter, without harming boats or fish. Their idea? Solve it with bubbles! By installing Great Bubble Barriers in rivers and canals they can increase oxygen levels and have a low-maintenance tool to get floating plastic debris out  of the water. “We still need to research a lot, because we really want to create knowledge and awareness”, explains Marieke, “But we got support from Rijkswaterstaat for two pilots and, if we find 40.000 euros funding, we will have the first prototype up and running this summer!”

Get your money right

Funding and financial stability seemed to be the biggest challenge for all idealistic entrepreneurs. Dopper, known from the refillable water bottles, was therefore happy to share their success strategy. “We combine our commercial sense with a social mission”, explained Lonneke Craemers from the Dopper Foundation. “Everyone working at Dopper has strong commercial skills. Therefore we are able to make a solid business model and successful company, of which we donate five percent of our profit to a special Dopper Foundation. With the foundation, we organize challenges, actions like the PET free workplace and education programs like our safe water drinking project in Nepal. We’re idealistic, but are business-driven”.

And now… YOU!

Are you inspired by all these social entrepreneurs with a mission? Good! Now it’s time for YOU to start! There are many things you can do; right now and right where you are. As Johnas van Lammeren from the Partij voor de Dieren Amsterdam suggests: go vote! Or, as Peter Smith from Klean Foundation puts it: “Complaining doesn’t get you anywhere, so just do one silly thing a day. It’s simple: pick up one piece of litter. You are the most powerful machine on earth. If only 25% of the population would pick up one piece of litter a day, all streets would soon be cleaned from larger plastic items”.  Even better than cleaning up our mess is preventing the mess in the first place. By adopting a low-waste or zero waste lifestyle, you can immediately prevent plastic pollution! Check out the website of By the Ocean we Unite for more tips or the first and biggest Dutch zero waste lifestyle blog for practical tips, insights and information. It’s time…. It’s time for YOU!

Feeling even more inspired? Check out the entrepreneurship opportunities at Impact Hub and see how YOU can make a difference in the corporate world!


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