Be part of the solution not the problem

posted on November 25, 2019

The great people we met with in Shetland all had experience with plastic encroaching a beloved space of theirs. However, meeting up with ocean heroes along the way of our mission, sparked hope and inspiration for our marine ecosystem. Read about some of our memorable encounters in Shetland demonstrating how people spark hope by committing to be part of the solution and not the problem. Photo: Alexander Thorsen/ Text:

A memorable meeting in Shetland, was with Mike Grundon, video journalist and radio producer at BBC. He really made connecting with the locals in Shetland much easier as he connected the dots for us!

Moreover, It was clear that all the people we met with had experience with plastic encroaching a beloved space of theirs.

Meeting more helpful people than the locals in Shetland must be an extremely difficult task! We met with the locals to learn more on how plastic has impacted the Shetland Islands but also to hear the stories of how these local heroes are taking action for a better future for our beloved nature & marine mammals living in it. You can listen to the BBC Radio Interview here.

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Mike Grundon interviewing Biotechnologist Diane Seda on the impacts of plastic pollution.Photo: Tord Karlsen/

He also introduced us to his daughter, Alice Robertson who organizes the “Voar Redd Up” ( Spring Clean up) which is taking many tons of plastic off the beaches for disposals or recycling.

Da Voar Redd Up is the UK's most successful community litter pick, with over 20% of Shetland’s population volunteering their time annually. This annual spring clean makes an invaluable contribution to Shetland's natural environment and wildlife, clearing Shetland's beaches, coastlines and roadsides of litter and the debris washed up by winter storms.

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New connections was one of our favourite take-aways from our expedition! Photo: Tord Karlsen /

Follow their facebook account for more information on their fantastic work.

Mike also introduced us to the Scottish Natural Heritage, working closely with monitoring schemes and sampling of dead animals that come ashore. We were introduced to Karen Hall and Jonathan Swale, telling us the sad story of how plastic has impacted marine mammals on the islands. As true ambassadors of the ocean, they are educating "generation clean-up" by coordinating the Shetland Marine Wildlife Roadshow by Andy Peters, which is touring schools and halls with inflatable whales, dolphins and seals.

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Picture: Andy Peters /

Another group we met up with was the team “ecoyouth”. Three exceptional young girls passionate about protecting the world from climate change. Seing the passion from younger generations really inspires our mission. Read about their call for action trough climate strikes here .

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Sandra Ness from Turnss interviewing the girls from EcoYouth. Photo: Alexander Thorsen/

Last but not the least, we met with Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary. Founded by Jan Bevington in 1987, Hillswick Animal Sanctuary has, for the last 30 years, provided expert care and refuge to hundreds of seals, otters and other marine mammals. Since 1987 they have been rescuing and rehabilitating sick, injured and abandoned seals and otters so they could safely be released into the wild. Shetland is one of UK’s most important habitats for common or harbour seals, grey seals and otters. The islands are also one of the best places to see whales and dolphins in the wild. They also help coordinate a network of volunteers who rescue whales, dolphins and porpoises in the wild.

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Visiting Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary with the team! Photo: Alexander Thorsen/

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Listening to Jan & Pete's stories was a heartfelt inspiration for the whole team! Photo: Alexander Thorsen /

Their work has been featured on national and international TV, and received a number of awards, including a lifetime achievement award from the International Fund for Animal Welfare in 2014. Listening to Jan and Pete story about the sanctuary they have been dedicating their lives to was truly encouraging. People like these are true leaders of positive change and leaves us full of inspiration and hope.

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The Shetland team gathered together with Jan & Pete from Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary. Photo: Alexander Thorsen /

If we continue to share ideas and support each other in our efforts to cut back on plastic, it will make our goal of changing our habits more achievable.

Virtual Stories

Andreas showing spectacular VR content from his previous expeditions with Barba, working with the orcas in the arctic.

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Photo: Alexander Thorsen /

Takeaways from Shetland Stories : What can be done by governments do to fix the problem?

  • Create a fee for ocean industries paid in exchange for collecting and delivering their trash while in harbour (Norwegian gvt working with this at the moment).
  • Those who import or produce plastic equipment are responsible for collecting it and will receive a fine if not done (EU & Norway working with this now)
  • Give plastic a value.

Think before you trash it.

Next Stop: Faroe Islands