Stella Diamant works for The Ocean Cleanup. She is currently in the middle of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch sailing on a Gunboat 66 called Extreme H2O collecting plastic pollution samples as part of the Mega Expedition that she helped put together.
I was raised in Brussels, Belgium and attended an international school. I have always been environmentally conscious and even as a young person I would give speeches in my classes about climate change etc. I have always enjoyed wide open spaces and nature, and spent a good part of my childhood riding horses and climbing trees.
A few years ago I volunteered on a project in a remote village in Madagascar that was investigating overfishing – that’s when I started feeling a strong connection with the ocean. Every day I would escape the daily routine by free-diving and during that time I relied on the ocean for food, day in and day out.
I love freediving, diving, surfing… anything that involves being out there surrounded by water, as well as horse riding, hiking and running. The Mega Expedition will be my first attempt at sailing.
I was always passionate about the environment and making a difference. I got offered a place at the University of Warwick in England (top ten UK university) to study biology and somehow ended up doing my final project about plastic pollution and its impact on marine wildlife. It changed my life to read about the impact of human-made material that we use for a few minutes yet will outlive us. Since then, I have been looking for an opportunity in that field.
After completing my bachelor’s degree, I started working abroad in the field as a biologist, then, completed my masters in conservation. I was becoming well-educated, but somehow felt I wasn’t making the difference I wanted. Then, two years ago I stumbled upon Boyan Slat’s TEDx talk about the Ocean Cleanup and wrote to him. I heard back a few months after and started to help as a volunteer by writing reviews for the first version of the feasibility study’s ecology chapter.
A year ago I moved to the headquarters of the project in Delft, The Netherlands to volunteer full-time, helping with the crowd-funding campaign (the most successful environmental crowd-funding campaign ever) as well as the second version of the feasibility study, and other testing exercises.
As the Mega Expedition was coming up I got really excited and started helping the team with the project. In April I became a full-time employee at TOC as the Mega Expedition Coordinator and was sent to Hawaii on very short notice to coordinate the ME logistics and boats from there. I am amazed at how much we achieved, but also amazed at the motivation within the sailing community, and the awareness regarding the issue.
Once our trip is over I will head back to Delft to join the Lab team where we will analyze all the collected samples from this expedition to find out how much plastic and what kind of plastic there is in the garbage patch. This will allow us to further develop our cleanup technology and start cleaning the pacific by 2020!