Last year, the Buzz profiled one of our sponsored athlete/advocate teams: the crew from Out of Sight, Out of Mind (OSOM). They are three kayakers living in the Pacific Northwest who began to see the world differently after the BP oil spill in 2010. Instead of sitting idly with their outrage, they decided to make a positive difference.
After two and half years of advocacy, organized cleanups and a good deal of reflection, Jason Self, Shay Bickley and Chris Bensch are more committed than ever to getting to the root cause (and ensuing cleanup) of litter in our waterways and oceans. The OSOM trio is mid-way through their latest project, a candid film series called “Search for the Perfect Day.”
Fresh from shooting in the Everglades and the Florida Keys, Ibex connected with Jason Self whenever the Internet cooperated. From talking trash (literally), offering alternatives to the demagoguery of recycling to kicking back with good friends and a cold beer, Jason gave us an exclusive update.
Ibex Question (IQ): A few months back you set out to define “the perfect day” with the OSOM film series. How does this jive with the original OSOM mission of cleaning our waterways of trash/plastic?
Jason Self (JS): After our “Trashpedition” last spring, where we paddled 100-miles from Portland, Oregon, to the Pacific Ocean [and collected trash along the way], we realized that the plastic problem isn’t caused by evil litterers and dumpers. Rather, it is an issue of consumerism. The problem of plastic in the world’s waterways and oceans is caused by people who care – just like us.
We realized the problem is a ‘disconnect’ between understanding the impacts of our everyday actions and their impacts on the natural world.
The goal of the [“Search for the Perfect Day”] project is to motivate and inspire others to connect with the natural world – to give people a reason to care in the first place. We do this by showing some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the US: the Redwood Coast, Florida Everglades and Keys, and Kauai, Hawaii. [We also include] people in each location that are deeply connected to the environment and making a difference in their own unique way.
It’s not all fun and games. In each of these locations we conduct cleanups and expose the problem of plastic pollution. Our goal is not shock and awe, but rather inspiration and motivation. By showing the impact that “convenience” items have on these beautiful places, we hope to encourage people to make simple changes in their own lives that will have a major impact on the world around them.
IQ: That’s a tall – and entirely worthwhile – order. Was there a catalyst for focusing on consumerism and, in turn, prevention of the litter?
JS: We asked ourselves: “What happens to our recycling and garbage after we set it out on the curb for collection?” And, [we] began researching statistics on recycling and waste.
We followed garbage trucks around to see with our own eyes. What we found is that the process of waste collection and recycling is anything but perfect. Garbage trucks lose debris during all stages of collection and transfer. Garbage dumps and transfer stations are not containing the problem.
Less than 15% of plastics in the US are recycled, and we purchase 15 million plastic water bottles every day. The airlines alone use 40 million plastic cups a day, none of which can be recycled.
Basically we found that if it floats or blows, it winds up in the storm drain, which leads to a river, which leads to the sea. Recycling does not work.
IQ: Sobering observations and a controversial statement, but we understand what you’re saying. Recycling is worthwhile, but imperfect and doesn’t solve the root of the problem. What’s your solution?
JS: The only solution we could find was to refuse single use plastic.
So, if the problem is a disconnect between our everyday actions and their impacts on the natural world, then the solution is to raise awareness of the problem. The “Search for the Perfect Day” is our solution.
IQ: You’ve already paddled the Redwood Coast and SW Florida as part of the series. Without too big of a spoiler for the film, can you tell us any details that made those days perfect?
JS: We conducted interviews with dozens of people from all walks of life during the both shoots. To hear their stories about what nature means to them on such an emotional level, and learn about all the amazing things people are doing to better their world was truly inspiring. We finished both shoots completely humbled by the experience.
IQ: How does filming change the ambiance of a day on the water with your buddies?
JS: When we first started filming, it totally changed everything about being on the water with my buddies. It was challenging, and created a lot of frustration within the group. We cover fewer miles and take more time to do it, and have way more gear to deal with. Paddling became more about getting the shot than enjoying the moment. This definitely changed how we do things. However, as we get more accustomed to the routine, we’re finding we’re able to relax and enjoy things more and more.
IQ: All right, ‘fess up: who’s the most photogenic?
JS: Ha! Chris’s husky “Smokey.”
IQ: Who requires the most editing?
JS: I require the most editing when we’re shooting the moment. I cuss like a pirate and have a tendency to make awkward poses. I hear Chris telling me to bend at the knees in my sleep!
IQ: How does pursuing the “perfect day,” resonate with your audience differently than cleaning our waterways?
JS: Our goal is to reach as many people as possible. If we take a strait environmental message, we’re only appealing to environmentalists. We want to reach everyone, regardless of politics, religion, economics, race, etc. and that means tailoring our message in a way that doesn’t cause offense to anyone, and cuts through these stifling labels and assumptions.
We’re tapping into a lot different demographics with this series. The concept for this series might have thrown off our core of paddlers and environmentalists, but at the end of the day the message is the same. We’re not out to condemn any group, we’re out to change peoples perceptions about how their actions impact the world around them, and inspire them to make simple changes in their own lives to make the world a better place.
IQ: After a great day on the water, what’s the perfect end to your perfect day?
JS: Sharing the day’s experience with good friends is the perfect ending to a perfect day. This typically involves fish tacos and cold beer!
Ibex: Peculiar, we always thought a perfect day ended with fish tacos and beer. Thanks for your time OSOM crew and keep up the good work.