The Plastic Ocean Foundation UK is the founding organisation and was started by Jo Ruxton and Sonjia Norman in 2009. Jo had previously worked for WWF in Hong Kong, where she had met Sonjia and subsequently as a film producer for the BBC’s Natural History Unit. Sonjia had always been an ardent environmentalist and living in Hong Kong she had seen first hand the damage our modern lifestyle was doing to the ocean environment.
Reports of a so-called ‘island’ of plastic in the Pacific prompted Jo to join an expedition to the region to see it for herself. Joined by a cameraman she documented the journey. There was no island! The truth, however, was far more insidious. The Great Pacific Garbage patch was more like a plastic soup of tiny plastic particles and these were getting into the food chain. The potential harm to human health was potentially catastrophic.
The Film and the Foundation
Jo was determined to tell the world about the harm our plastic addiction was doing to the marine environment and the possible human costs. With a background in film making the medium through which to do this was evident. She brought in cameramen and TV presenters, such as Sir David Attenborough and Dr Sylvia Earle to help make promotional videos, along with a team of advisers from the worlds of science, business, education and sustainability. The groundwork for ‘A Plastic Ocean’ film and a not-for-profit organisation that could work towards stopping plastic getting into the ocean was taking shape.
Turn the clock forward 8 years. The film has been produced and has been critically acclaimed around the world. It is available in a growing number of languages and has been screened in front of the general public as well as world leaders. While continuing to promote the film, the Foundation is now turning its attention to other projects in order to achieve its mission. We are supporting further scientific research including a systematic review of the available data. We are developing education programmes that can be rolled out into schools in the UK and further afield. We are building links with industry, particularly those with close ties to the oceans, to encourage the exchange of best practice, cost and waste reduction methods and other activities aimed at reducing our plastic footprint and preventing it getting into the oceans.
We cannot find a solution to this global issue overnight, but we believe that we can change attitudes towards plastic within a generation and this is a huge step forward. We need your support to achieve our aims so please look at our ‘get involved’ page and consider making a donation to our charity.
Meet the Team
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND CO-FOUNDER
Jo is our Co-founder of the Plastic Oceans Foundation, Co-Producer of our film, A Plastic Ocean, Executive Director of Plastic Oceans UK and is heading our work in Education.
She’s worked for both the BBC and WWF, and was part of the celebrated Blue Planet team. Over the past 18 years, Jo has been involved in numerous underwater filming projects. She spends much time presenting to students, businesses and the public to ensure that people understand plastic is not and, was never designed to be, disposable.
DR GEOFF BRIGHTY
Geoff heads up Science, Policy and Sustainability advice for the Foundation. He is a highly-experienced and passionate environmentalist with career roles that span research, strategy, policy and operations in environmental regulation and management.
Geoff is a published scientist with over 4000 paper citations for his work. He joined Plastic Oceans in 2014 and advised on the science content of the film A Plastic Ocean and Science Behind the Film publication.
DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION
Sylvie is now leading on delivering the legacy of the film A Plastic Ocean through designing and delivering formal education programmes in schools, colleges and Universities.
As an Environmental Chemistry graduate of Plymouth University, she has since gained extensive experience in many aspects of the field of waste management: regulation, operations, academic and consultancy. Combining this background with 18 years in education, teaching, curriculum design and being a published educational author, Sylvie is well placed to create impactful, relevant educational programmes to educate and inspire our next generation.
Tash began volunteering for the Foundation in 2017, and felt compelled to help after watching the film. She has since represented Plastic Oceans UK at events or helped with the organisation of screenings.
Her background is in Marketing, and Tash is managing campaigns and raising awareness of our work through social media.
Sacha joined Plastic Oceans UK at the beginning of 2018 as a volunteer, due to her passion in reducing plastic pollution. She manages the business partnerships and supports team co-ordination and planning.
Sacha has worked for 5 years in Commercial and Finance and is a part-qualified accountant.