Our resident YouTube aficionado Kass Schmitt shines the spotlight on Nike Steiger of White Spot Pirates and her friend Maria LaPointe who have joined the fight against ocean plastic pollution

At a recent beach clean organised by my local Surfrider Europe chapter in response to a sudden marked increase in the (already alarming) amount of industrial plastic granules (IPG) washing up on the coasts of Biscay, it was difficult not to feel overwhelmed by the hopelessness of the situation.

So hats off to Nike Steiger of White Spot Pirates and her friend Maria LaPointe for joining the fight against ocean plastic pollution, despite the unfavourable odds.

While a playlist shows they have been active in this area for several years, organising beach cleanups and running workshops to encourage upcycling of plastic waste, in recent years they’ve stepped up the scale of their activities by founding a non-profit organisation called In Mocean with the aim of setting up a network of community recycling workshops around the world.

They’re doing so with the help of a group of boat-based ‘Recycling Ambassadors’, most of whom will be familiar to anyone who follows sailing vlogs.

In Mocean is in turn part of a larger movement spearheaded by Precious Plastic, a project started in 2012 in Eindhoven by then design student Dave Hakkens with the aim of creating plastic recycling systems that could be adopted and adapted by communities around the world.

The project has created a series of prototypes for both processing waste plastic and creating new products out of it.

The plans for these machines are freely available, along with informational resources to assist interested parties with formulating plans to help them create a sustainable business in their local community.

One such business is Precious Plastic Melbourne, who manufacture and sell scaled down versions of Precious Plastic’s shredders and extruders – perfect for travelling educators, especially those with boats.

A 2021 In Mocean crowdfunding campaign raised enough to provide seven members of the fleet with machines specially adapted by PP Melbourne to be even lighter, more compact and energy efficient than standard models.

The machines have now been distributed to most of the fleet, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with them.

I hope they will succeed in inspiring some of the remote coastal communities they visit to set up their own local plastic recycling infrastructure with enduring environmental and economic benefits, but if nothing else, the ambassadors now have a better way to compact their plastic waste and take it with them rather than leaving it behind.