clean ocean youth movement

this weekend i was invited to participate at a youth conference again. i love youth conferences! this one was 'CLEAN OCEAN YOUTH MOVEMENT 2014' organized by the society of wilderness (www.sow.org.tw) and held at the national museum of marine biology (www.nmmba.gov.tw/english) in kenting, taiwan. its purpose is to provide young people with latest research on marine pollution, generating ideas and action plans to enable them to come up with their own successful campaign. participating students are chosen from all over the country to join and then share their knowledge and experiences with their fellow students once they are back at their schools and universities. it's a great way to spread knowledge and action through so-called multipliers, finding solutions for environmental problems within close reach of their own communities.
for me personally, apart from this great chance to trigger environmental protection and action, conferences are the best place to meet interesting people! let me introduce some of the speakers to you i got to know at this conference in taiwan.

beth terry comes from california and has seen one of chris jordan's photographs of a giant albatross on midway island, found dead with plastic waste in its belly. right then and there she decided to try and lead a plastic-free life. that's not possible! was my first reaction. but it's been 5 years since then and she hasn't bought a single new plastic item. this picture shows beth with her entire plastic waste from the year 2013. she's written a book about her experiences called 'Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too' published by skyhorse publishing in 2012. here are some of her tips that make a plastic-free life look so easy (it is definitely easier than you imagine):

more great tips are on her fb-site www.facebook.com/MyPlasticfreeLife
my favourite one is 'make your own'! by making my own e.g. museli bars i not only avoid packaging, but i (1) know what's in it (2) can use healthier ingredients (3) know that it's fresh (4) save some $. love it!

another interesting talk was 'the lighter project' by shigeru fujieda, professor of driftology of kagoshima university, japan. he has been collecting plastic lighters on japanese shores since 1997. the key to his scientific work is that lighters very often show addresses of shops if they are given away as a freebie. this way mr.fujieda is able to track the origin of the lighters and recapture their voyage on high seas. not only does this give a bigger scientific picture of ocean currents, but it also shows the main perpetrators by country when it comes to marine pollution.

other speakers at the conference included marting thiel from chile (www.bedim.cl), la benida hui from the u.s. (www.rareawareness.com), tracey read from hongkong (www.plasticfreeseas.org), jason from taiwan (www.sow.org.tw), rui guang chao from taiwan and joy from greenpeace taiwan (www.greenpeace.org).

my talk 'from waste to art: changing values by changing perception' examines the aesthetic, commercial and intrinsic value of things we use. taking a closer look reveals that this value changes throughout the life-span of things, from design, fabrication, want/craving, acquisition, use, discard to an existence beyond the product's intended consumerist life. it is us who give value to these things. if something is cheap in monetary terms it doesn't mean it's cheap in environmental and humane terms. plastic is the best example. it is dead cheap. but it is idiotic to think that plastic is cheap. we have to pay for it in the long run. not with money, but with our health, with toxins in our food, with polluted nature parks and waters, with inhumane working conditions, the list goes on. and even more daunting, we do not only have to pay now, but for generations to come. my message is to use less and appreciate what we already have!

impromptu 'waste mountain water' installation in front of the big aquarium with our group, the turtles! 

the whole conference was zero-waste, so we all brought our own water bottles, cutlery and bowls. on the right you can see that a plastic sponge was replaced by a natural luffa plant (www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luffa), detergent replaced by soda and natural soap. clean means clean for everyone here, not only for humans!
on the left you see the hongkong representatives at the conference: dana and tracey from www.plasticfreeseas.org and joy and me. thanks girls, it was awesome to roll together!

lastly i want to thank everyone from the society of wilderness (www.sow.org.tw) who was involved in bringing this inspiring and fruitful event to life. i want to thank all the students who worked so hard over the course of 4 days and came to best results including presentations, performances, public spaeches, collection of signatures and creative repurposing of plastic waste - you were great! to read more about the clean ocean youth movement 2014, follow this link www.cleanoceanyouthmovement.blogspot.tw