On April 4, 2009, Anna Cummins and Marcus Eriksen set off on a bike trip down the West Coast of the American continent. Their “Junk Ride” is the last leg of “Message in A Bottle,” an educational campaign to reduce the accumulation of plastic waste.Cummins and Eriksen work for the Algalita Marine Research Foundation and have been lecturing on the dangerous buildup of plastic refuse in the North Pacific Ocean (see SM Mirror, March 5-11, 2009). Their presentations, which will be continuing on the Junk Ride, include exhibiting samples (in jars) of plastic-tainted marine life and giving these samples to educators, media, and legislators-to bring home to them the impact of plastic trash on life forms and the food chain. ‘[Algalita’s] founder, Captain Charles Moore, discovered this issue of plastic in the ocean back in 1997,” said Cummins. “He was sailing a boat from Hawaii back to Los Angeles. He took a detour through an area that many sailors avoid because of a lack of wind and what he saw there was an alarming trail of plastic trash.”Cummins and Eriksen traveled to Hawaii in 2008 and collected samples from the “gyre” of plastic waste. “We found that the density of plastic had doubled in just ten years.”This led to the building of the “Junk Junk” made from plastic bottles, upon which Eriksen took a second trip to the gyre later in 2008. He and Cummins felt a “real sense of urgency” to communicate about the issue and created the Junk Ride in order to get more media attention.The pair will travel 2000 miles from Vancouver to Tijuana, by bicycle. “We wanted to discuss larger issues of sustainability so one good way to do it is to ride bikes,” noted Cummins. Attached to their bikes will be two extended “extracycles” with side bags for storage of supplies and samples. While their environmental campaign is very serious, there is a special joyous aspect to the Junk Ride-it’s also going to become a honeymoon, as Cummins and Eriksen are to be married somewhere during the trip.“We first met at a birthday party for Captain Charles Moore about two years ago. I had heard about Marcus and he had heard about me because we’re both working in a similar field. Then we went on the voyage together in 2008 and on February 14, in the middle of the ‘plastic soup’ as we called it, Marcus proposed. He actually made a ring out of some trash that he found. “I of course said yes. He was the man of my dreams. We decided it would be the perfect setting to get married on the ride.”Cummins doesn’t know exactly what location they will choose for the wedding-it will depend on where they can find a judge to perform the ceremony.“It’s going to be a little spontaneous-maybe somewhere on the California coast or the Oregon coast. We both like the idea because we’re adventurers.“
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