THROW MARINE LIFE A LIFELINE
Stena is supporting the BinForGreenSeas Project tackling marine plastics - By Bobby Khan.
Stena is proud to be supporting the GreenSeas Trust, a charity determined to stop plastics entering the sea by changing human behaviour using a visual trigger.
Bobby (Fazilette) Khan, Founder trustee of the charity, is one of our very own ex-employees. She qualified as a Radio Officer (R/O) in 1984. While still at college she started sending out job applications to get her qualifying sea time. “At that time there were very few women at sea, but I was determined to sail around the globe,” explains Bobby. “Out of 150 companies I approached, only one was willing to take the chance. I have always been grateful to Ian Ramsey Lewis – the personal manager at that time at Northern Marine, for seeing the potential in me, which others failed to do.”
Having gained her sea time on the Stena Oceanica, Bobby sailed on many of our other company vessels including the Stena Adriatica, Stena King, Stena Seahorse and Stena Seawell. She went on to have a successful career at sea spanning almost 30 years. First as a Radio Officer and later as and Environmental Officer on cruise ships.
During that time, Bobby noticed the previously pristine environments she had visited were slowly but surely getting more and more polluted with plastics and other non-biodegradable rubbish. “For me, a lightbulb moment was actually on the Stena King,” she tell us. “I was standing on the ship’s vast bridgewing, high above the water, the Atlantic Ocean was flat like a sheet of glass without a ripple in sight and then – a huge tractor tyre with 4 paint cans bobbing in its wake, floated past!. I was so annoyed, I marched up to radar to see which ship could have thrown this junk overboard, but there were none for 120 nautical miles. It was only then I realised, the sea does not have a black hole into which garbage disappears.”
Bobby, like a lot of other people thought the idea of one person making a difference was untenable. “In 2001, my mother passed away. As she had spent a lot of time in Tobago, I visited the island on holiday. I was taken aback when I saw people come to a beach or beauty spot with their picnics to enjoy the scenery, and then thoughtlessly throw their packaging into the sea. I established GreenSeas Trust then, in memory of mother. I wanted to change the apathy of people towards marine sustainability. ”
The charity’s ‘Litter Kills Marine Life’ programme utilised a three pronged approach. Placing bins on Tobago’s beaches, education and increasing awareness. The quantifiable success of the campaign was almost immediate. Today, Tobago’s motto is; Clean, Green and Serene.
Since then, the charity has organised educational talks for cruise ship crews. Lobbied the UK government to adopt a ‘Deposit Refund Scheme’ for plastic beverage bottles. Recently, GreenSeas Trust became a partner of the IET Global Challenge 2018/2019 for young engineers, to come up an all-terrain machine that can pick up cigarette butts from the surface of the sand on beaches. “Not many people realise that cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate fibres (a plastic) which does not degrade,” explained Bobby. Estimated to be around 4 trillion cigarette butts in the oceans, it is the number one item found on beach clean up’s.
The charity’s main project however, is the #BinForGreenSeas. The project’s aim is to change ‘I can’t be bothered,’ attitude towards marine plastics. Not many people realise a significant part of this marine debris comes from careless littering and improperly disposed rubbish. Those drinks containers and food wrappings left on beaches without a second thought. The plastic bags left to float in the wind, they all add up to make the 8.8 million tonnes of plastic that ends up in the oceans each year. In collaboration with the University of East London, two product design students Emily Hodgkinson and George Davis developed Bobby’s idea of using a lifebuoy.
Financing the project however, was not an easy matter. Bobby turned to her former employer, Stena to see if they would be interested in supporting the project. “I was amazed by the support I received from the Stena UK team, not just in term of financial help, but also when crucial decisions needed to be made with the design aspects. Having valuable insight from outside the charity was of tremendous help.”
The very first of the 1.5 m high, lifebuoy shaped bins was unveiled on Blackpool’s promenade, UK on the 5thof June. Bobby hopes the information on the bin itself, statistics, and a QR code linked to the charity’s website will motivate people to dispose of their litter in a responsible way.
“We want the tagline ‘Throw Marine Life a Lifeline’ to act as a catalyst to associate using any bin with preserving marine life,” said Bobby.
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