Why should we care?

I like to travel. It has probably been my most enjoyable pastime. Ever since I can remember, I was always wanting to escape from my house or school and explore the world. I started small of course, exploring the woods at the back of my house, building tree houses and pretending to be an adventurer. Gradually, as the wanderlust continued to grow, my trips become more adventurous and moved farther afield.

At the last count, I had visited over 70 different Countries across 5 different continents. Many of these Countries I have visited multiple times and what an incredible adventure it has been. From the pristine jungles of Papua New Guinea and Belize to the city lights of Hong Kong, Singapore and New York, I have been fortunate enough to experience so much of what the world has to offer.

But is has been the most incredible nature and wildlife that I have witnessed which has stuck with me through all these years. My highlight being the 5 years I spent circumnavigating the Globe, whilst working as an engineer on board a private yacht.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sailing across the Pacific ocean with only the occasional sound of whales blowing in the distant and the constant sound of the waves breaking on the bow and the wind dancing through the rigging, is a magical time. I witnessed first hand the incredibly diverse wildlife the Galapagos Islands has to offer. Whilst on board we were treated to a regular visit from a local seal and watched in amazement as newly hatched baby turtles swam to the safety of the open water past our boat.

I have have been lucky enough to dive in the remote Tuamotu Archipelago, crystal clear waters teeming with giant manta rays, sharks, corals and a plethora of other fish. Off the coast of Costa Rica at the Cocos Islands,  where I was greeted in the water by literally hundred’s of hammerhead and white tip reef sharks. Then up North, towards the frigid waters of Alaska to witness the famous salmon run and watching with pleasure as grizzly bears ran into the rivers catching and eating till their heart’s content.

There were remote tribes too, in Papua New Guinea, witnessing first-hand sacred rituals that are very rarely seen by outsiders. Heck, I even got married in Thailand, on one of the most beautiful tropical Island’s you can imagine.

But then something happened.

In 2008, whilst on a voyage from Papua New Guinea to Raja Ampat in Western Papua, for a few weeks of diving. I can still remember, quite vividly, we were still about 100 nautical miles from land, there was garbage floating in the ocean. Nothing around but ocean and there it was, as far as the eye could see, garbage. As we sailed closer towards the shore the amount of garbage continued increasing. As we finally arrived in port, I honestly couldn’t believe my eyes. The water in the port was completely covered over with diesel, plastic bottles, tires and every other kind of detritus you could imagine. It was filthy.

In many more ports, I started to notice the same kind of pollution. In Thailand, the USA, South America and Europe, even the pristine waters of Alaska and The Galapagos Islands. Everywhere we sailed there was pollution and lots of it.

On some of the longer voyages, crossing the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, instead of days without seeing any other boats, we would instead pass dozens of tuna boats, complete with helicopters to track the fish. At other times there would be fleets of boats trawling the open ocean. This kind of fishing is completely unregulated and unsustainable and often illegal. It is not until you witness this kind of thing first hand that you get a sense for how much we are taking, without giving anything back.

In SE Asia you see the scars where the palm plantations cut through the land. In China, countless new buildings going up at an ever increasing rate, the cities already blanketed in smog and thick with pollution. And in the market stalls of Africa, illegally poached animals for sale with more and more building developments encroaching on the wildlife parks, competing for space  with endangered species.

It wasn’t until a few years later, after my wife and I had moved to Thailand for work and I saw again the incredible amount of pollution washed up on the beaches that I finally decided that I need to do something. I wasn’t really sure what I could do, but I couldn’t just sit there, watching the planet get consumed by our waste.

And then one day it happened. Out of nowhere, on a beach in Thailand, I just started to pick up trash. I was sick of seeing it just lying around. Since that day, I have picked up literally tons of trash and I work hard every day to try to reduce my personal impact on the planet. I also started, in my own way, to try and raise awareness of these issues by writing about them on One Brown Planet and by working with groups and other like-minded people. And I will continue trying for as long as I can.

So there you go, that is why I care.

Personally, I feel like I have taken so much already without really thinking about where it all comes from. Now is time for me to give back and try and help the planet for the next generation. It would be great if I could get a few people to come along for the ride too.

One Brown Planet is group of like minded people raising awareness and trying to make a difference for our environment. If you want to help you can. By sharing our stories and liking our facebook page you can learn about the impact that we all have on the plane. Then every day, just try and tread a little lighter.

Just remember that every single thing you do, no matter how small, will reduce your impact on the planet. That’s something to smile about 🙂