Down the Drain: Down the Rhine
The Plastic Soup Surfer is building a Stand Up Paddle Board from 630 discarded plastic bottles and will paddle the board down the entire Rhine River, from its source to where it flows into the North Sea at the Port of Rotterdam. A 1,400-kilometer physical challenge. Forty metric tons of garbage from the Rhine enter the North Sea each year. During the 28-day expedition, the Plastic Soup Surfer will hunt for plastic garbage in the river, the riverbed and the riverbanks.
In #source2sea, the Plastic Soup Surfer will boldly confront the producers and retailers of the plastic litter found in the Rhine. He will issue judicial notifications to the top executives, questioning their corporate social responsibility, thus forcing them to give a public statement.
The Soup Surfer SUP
The unique Stand Up Paddle (SUP) Board will be built in collaboration with the Technical University of Delft’s Science Centre. The plastic garbage board will be built using the latest innovations in eco-Design and will be fitted with a GPS tracker, cameras, solar panels and a VHF radio. The board can be converted into a raft for sleeping at night. The Plastic Soup Surfer will thus not have to leave his board to go on land. He will be fully self-sufficient.
The Plastic Soup Surfer will start his expedition on June 1st 2017, high up in the Swiss Alps, near the source of the Rhine. He will paddle for at least 6 hours a day to reach the mouth of the river - 1400 km down river - within 28 days. The journey will take him across the rapids in Switzerland and Austria; through the world famous Rhine valley in Germany and France; past multiple densely populated cities; and finally, down to the flat delta of the Netherlands.
During the expedition, the PSS will actively hunt for plastic garbage in the Rhine, its riverbed and riverbanks. He will attend river-cleans, invite celebrities to SUP along and meet with
specialists. Follow #source2sea live on a specially designed website. It will show the location of the board in real-time and will contain VLOGS, events and updates. Film director Eelke Dekker will document the entire expedition, all the preparations and the building of the unique board.
The plastic garbage that Plastic Soup Surfer will find in the Rhine will be traced back to the producers. By serving them with judicial notifications, he will pressure the top executives of
these companies to make public statements. Bailiffs will deliver this so-called ‘awareness warrant’ in person to the top executives. It will question their corporate social responsibility in terms of the design, distribution and communication regarding the plastic products they sell, which ultimately end up in the River.
The goal of the campaign is to mobilize people’s anger and outrage at plastic pollution, and send out one strong united message to a small group of top executives that have the power to make changes for the better for our seas and waterways.
Call To Action
For every warrant to be served, the PPS will rally 20 people to source €200 for the bailiff. Fifty warrants with a combined value of €10,000 will be sent. The Plastic Soup Surfer will take the lead in a bold and offensive strategy and will speak out on behalf of a multitude of consumers that are fed up with large companies that do not act responsibly in the way they produce their plastic products.
The Plastic Soup Surfer’s mission is to raise awareness among the broad public of the potential dangers of plastic waste. The Rhine alone spills 40 metric tons of garbage into the North Sea every year. The majority is single-use plastic items: plastic packaging that is used for less than 20 minutes but that lasts for hundreds of years in the sea. Plastic does not biodegrade or corrode. It breaks UP rather than breaks down. It has become widely used only several decades ago and has infiltrated every level of our food chain. We are by now finding it in supermarket fish and back on our dinner plates.
Everyone is responsible for reducing the amount of plastic waste in our rivers and seas: consumers, producers and governments. Awareness is key and should be followed up by action by producers to stimulate consumers make better choices. This is where most producers fail. They are not taking enough responsibility for their product’s end-of-life. Some products, like microbeads, are designed to wash down drains and into our waterways. These should be banned immediately. The problem is urgent. There is no time to waste.