Learn more reading the article by Rolf-Ørjan Høgset, Project manager.
Photo: In the same boat
Since “In the same boat” was established in 2017, we have cleared more than 800,000 kilograms of plastic garbage from Norway’s coast.
We have facilitated more than 50,000 hours of volunteering and walked over approximately 8,000 kilometres of shoreline in search of ownerless plastic. Our permanent beach cleanup crew consists of young people from both Norway and other countries, who set aside 2 months or more to stay on board our sailboats and clear beach litter on a voluntary basis. These are environmentally engaged, and often highly educated young adults, who want to learn more about oceans and sustainability.
The experiences they gain from their stay with In The Same Boat, they carry with them in their further education and career, and they become eternal ambassadors for a clean and sustainable ocean through their personal social networks.
Volunteers from Norway and abroad
In addition to working with long-term volunteers, we help local volunteers along the entire coast to get out into the archipelago, or to retrieve the plastic garbage they have cleared on their own initiative. By collecting and handling regulatory submission of the waste, we lower the threshold for clearing along the entire coast.
The business sector also contributes labour by sending its own personnel out as “volunteers” on our cruises, and we have brought personnel from the oil industry, fisheries and aquaculture with us.
Up to 80% of what we clean is waste from fishing activities, and only about 2% comes from personal consumption. Several research papers report that most of the waste comes from Norwegian sources, but some also from our closest neighbouring countries around the North Sea.
Those who profit from the use of plastic should pay for the clean-up!
We’ve got control of the fight against litter, and we know how to tame the plastic monster. However, our biggest challenge has been to cover the costs of staying afloat, to cover the salaries of professional captains and team leaders, to fuel and to pay the loans on our vessels. In a world where most industries in one or more ways build their fortunes precisely on products made of plastic, or where plastic is somehow an important part of the value chain, it is difficult and painful not to be included. We really should be part of the value chain. The costs of manufacturing and disseminating goods made of plastic or plastic packaging would also include the cost of cleaning up what has gone astray.
Despite how conscious the population and businesses have become today and how much we know about the sources and harmful effects of litter, no one is yet taking financial responsibility for the plastic that is going astray, and business interest organisations are fighting hard to control regulations, orders and taxes that that will help reduce litter. As we see it, contributions to the clean-up of plastic litter should be a commitment for all companies involving plastics in their operations and value chains. There could have been a small fee on the bottom line, or that the employees had to participate in at least one day of clean-up per year each. In fact, there’s not much it takes if everyone joins us.
Anyone can participate
Our goal is to enable absolutely everyone to participate – both businesses, organizations and individuals. The threshold should be as low as possible, and we cooperate with both the Archipelago Service and the outdoor advice along the coast. For those who cannot send labour in the form of employees, it is possible to participate a little in the split on the costs. We make sure to keep our vessels and infrastructure running both to get people out into the archipelago to clean up, and to retrieve the garbage. We also collaborate with the waste industry and businesses who specialize in recycling, so that as much of the plastic we collect as possible can be turned into new products, rather than being burned to become energy. Since a large part of our workforce is voluntary, and our working methods developed over many years are highly effective, we are a world leader in cost-effectiveness. We are convinced that Norway has the world’s most beautiful coast, and with the help and support of the business community, we will do everything we can to make it the cleanest in the world.