Retired professional swimmer Sarah Ferguson has spent the past decade using her talents and international profile to raise awareness about single-use plastic pollution in the oceans.
The South African athlete embarks on record-breaking ocean swims to highlight the extent of plastic pollution in typically picturesque, remote locations. She became the first person to ever swim around the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Easter Island in 2019 — a place that has one of the highest concentrations of microplastics in the Pacific Ocean.
“To have pioneered a swim like this is still something I am wrapping my head around. But to have succeeded in doing something no one else has done is both humbling and amazingly exciting,” Ferguson said after the 63.5km swim, which took just over 19 hours. “I hope that just as I swam around Easter Island one stroke at a time, people will choose to make one small decision at a time around single-use plastic to help preserve this beautiful blue ocean of ours.”
The event was part of the Swim Against Plastic campaign, created by Plastic Oceans International, which aims to empower people to “become part of the solution to this global epidemic that is polluting out oceans and other waterways, killing wildlife, and even endangering our own food chain.” The campaign also organised a swim around the Riviera Maya, in Mexico, which has been severely negatively impacted by the improper disposal of single-use plastics.
As well as being an ambassador for Plastic Oceans, Ferguson is also the founder of Breathe Conservation, an organisation that believes an plastic-free ocean is possible and works to eliminate disposable plastic.
She delivers talks to schools and corporations about how to “live deeply, and tread lightly,” including a recent presentation to Virgin about eliminating single use plastics. The multinational company has reportedly agreed to ditch 90% of single-use plastics by December 2019.Tags: Africa, Climate crisis, plastic pollution, South Africa