eXXpedition Round the World is an all-female sailing voyage and research mission.

By Kelly Vaughan / MarthaStewart.com
March 03, 2020
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An estimated eight million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year. Scientists believe that by the year 2050, there will be more plastic particles in the ocean than fish by weight. Needless to say, the plastic problem is catastrophic to our environment and is one that won't go away without serious action. That's why one group of extraordinary women is doing their part to help combat the microplastic problem.

eXXpedition Round the World is an all-female sailing voyage and research mission that began in 2019. The 300-person crew is made up of women from countries across the globe and includes marine biologists, marine toxicologists, ocean conservationists, holistic doctors, engineers, documentary filmmakers, famous yoga instructors, packaging designers, and more. Over the course of 30 different voyages spanning 38,000 nautical miles, multiple groups of women will climb aboard the 73' S.V. TravelEdge sailboat to study plastic and toxic pollution in our oceans.

Jen Russell

The statistics about plastic pollution in our oceans are staggering. Every piece of plastic that has ever been made still exists and will always exist. So far the crew has recorded half a million pieces of microplastics per square kilometer on the surface of the ocean. "We need to get out there and understand what type of plastic is in our ocean and therefore where is it coming from so we can stop it on land," says co-founder and mission director Emily Penn.

While the crisis impacts every species on the planet, the crew is taking a closer look at the effect that these plastic particles have on women. Scientists have found that many of the chemicals found in plastic are hormone disrupters and can increase women's risk of cancer and compromise their reproductive systems. Because the mission was founded by and run by women, the double XX in eXXpedition represents female chromosomes.

In addition to contributing significant research for ocean conservationists, eXXpedition also aims to facilitate deeper communication about what the problem is and how to effectively clean it up. "What we realize is there's no silver bullet solution to solving the marine plastic problem. We need to be working from every angle, from every sector to solve the problem here on land," says Penn.