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Compelled to Protect

Excerpted from GOOD, by Heidi Lux 7/19

When I saw this article, I knew that I had to share it. These women inspired me so much and if I am being completely honest, kind of awakened a spirit of adventure in me. I will include a brief bio and photo of some of these truly inspiring women over the next few posts.

I post on Sundays and Thursdays, so stay tuned for more about these warrior women!

Each year, we produce so much plastic that by 2050, the amount of plastic in the ocean will outweigh fish, if we don’t slow down. To tackle that problem, an all female expedition is setting out to make sure this doesn’t happen by “raising awareness of, and explore solutions to, the devastating environmental and health impacts of single-use plastics and toxics in the world’s ocean.”

The expedition, which is conducted by an organization called eXXpedition, will start in October. Three hundred women with diverse backgrounds will cover 38,000 nautical miles, visiting some of the most polluted oceans on the planet.

The first eXXpedition voyage took place in 2014, and since then, more than 100 women from 14 different nationalities have been on 11 voyages. And they’ve already produced change. Thanks to eXXpedition, microbeads in beauty products are now banned. They’ve been banned since 2015, and we didn’t even miss them!

Plastic is an environmental issue, but it’s also a women’s issue. “Some of these issues, particularly chemicals getting into our bodies, are quite a female issue because they’re endocrine disruptors, they mimic our hormones. And so we wanted to tackle this problem with a team of women. Hence eXXpedition began, to get women to study this issue of plastic and toxic pollution,” eXXpedition co-founder Emily Penn told Time.

Plastics have been found guilty of causing early puberty in girls, as well as interfering with hormones during pregnancy. And it turns out, they’re great at working their way into places they shouldn’t be in. The women who have participated in eXXpedition have used their own bodies as research subjects. At one point, every single member of the crew found they had at least some of the 35 chemicals banned by the UN for being toxic in their systems.

EXXpedition has had participants from all disciplines to participate in the project. Crew members have included scientists, teachers, filmmakers, product designers, photographers and athletes. But all are women.

“I guess women by nature have a nurturing instinct and are compelled to protect. We all share one ocean regardless of where we come from so this is an issue that transcends all political boundaries and borders. We need a multi-disciplinary and a multicultural approach to solving the problem. And women do well in mediating and collaborating and coming together for something that they care about. I wouldn’t like to exclude men from the cause. It’s really important that all of us find our role and work together,” Penn Says.

eXXpedition takes applications through their website and no experience is necessary. Perhaps you could help save the world too, and have some fun while doing it!

Emily Penn, eXXpedition co-founder

Emily has seen first hand how much plastic ends up in our ocean. She has spent the last decade exploring the high seas from the tropics to the Arctic – enabling scientists, filmmakers and interested individuals to gain access to the most remote parts of our planet.

She has organized the largest ever community-led waste cleanup from a tiny Tongan island, trawled for micro-plastics on a voyage through the Arctic Northwest Passage, rounded the planet on the record-breaking biofuelled boat Earthrace, and worked on a sailing cargo ship trading western supplies for coconuts.

Emily splits her time between running eXXpedition and developing upstream solutions to the ocean plastic issue with corporate partners, scientists and government bodies. An experienced public speaker, Emily gives talks around the world at conferences, universities and global companies about her adventures and issues relating to our oceans, human mindset and future society.

You can find more information on Emily’s projects at

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