Two Hands Project - The Interview

We caught up with Paul Sharp from Two Hands Project when he got home to Sydney after his expedition across the Pacific. Below are some questions we asked to find out what makes him a DOer.

Lenovo: How were you inspired to do what you’re DOing?
Working in marine animal and seabird rescue and being an avid diver and beachcomber exposed me to the problems of plastic in the environment. Seeing firsthand the fatal impacts of plastic pollution on turtles, birds, even a platypus has prompted me to do something. Its exciting stuff, of all the environmental challenges we face, plastic pollution is the easiest to fix, and great opportunity exists in doing things better. One moment that really impacted me was watching a kid build a sandcastle. Instead of decorating it with shells she covered it in broken pieces of plastic and bottle caps... could this be the beach of the future? Not on my watch!

Lenovo: How did Lenovo help you live the DO spirit?
Lenovo came on board with a good reliable kit, providing me with the tools to get the job done with confidence. My footage and images were quickly backed up and stored safely. All with the aid of a machine that added very little to my luggage and weight allowance.

Lenovo: Why did you choose a ThinkPad X220 over your old laptop?
My old laptop had lived a tough life. It bounced around on boats, carryon luggage, a tandem bike expedition, hiking, desert dust, and despite keeping it in a tough case it finally began to fail. The ThinkPad X220 was superior in every way. It feels like the ThinkPad X220 could take almost anything I could throw at it. My last computer would not have survived the North Pacific.

Lenovo: How did the ThinkPad X220 help you in your project?
The ThinkPad X220 was invaluable for capturing and backing up still and video files of the 2012 Tsunami Debris Expedition, as well as serving as the point of communication to the outside world. Blogging was a pleasure on this machine, it had a fantastic keyboard. The small dimensions were great, allowing viewing and typing anywhere, even in my bunk! The machine performed all the video and photo editing tasks I needed with ease, it had surprising power in a small package.

Lenovo: What were the major findings of your expedition?
We discovered the Tsunami Debris Field is much larger than most expected; it is essentially spread across the North Pacific, from Japan to the US. Wreckage will be making its way to shore for many years to come and clean up at sea would be too difficult.

The most significant item recovered was the bow of a Japanese fishing boat, complete with ID markings, and we are hoping to trace the owner and find them alive and well.

Despite an estimated 1.5 million tons of tsunami debris being strewn across the North Pacific, this only represents around 2% of the artificial flotsam out there. The other 98% is mostly general plastic trash.

The Western Garbage Patch and the Eastern Garbage Patch appear to be joined, we sailed across the convergence zone and we saw no areas clear of plastic. On average we observed large plastic objects every 3.5 minutes, every trawl we deployed for micro plastics was plastic positive.

Plastic in the ocean is providing habitat for exotic species, even something as small as a bottle cap can support a crab and a couple of small fish, this could threaten fisheries and ecosystems with introduction of exotic pests that drift in on plastic.

We are still waiting on results from water samples taken for radioactivity testing and bacterial samples taken from the surface of floating plastics.

Lenovo: What’s next for you and Two Hands Project?
Though it wasn't easy going, this has whetted my appetite for sailing. Two Hands Project is now beginning to plan a circumnavigation of Australia in 2013, surveying remote beaches and Open Ocean for plastic pollution, and I'd like to build on the relationship with Lenovo for this adventure.

To learn more about Paul Sharp and his amazing cause Two Hands Project, go to his site