Project Kaisei hopes to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Crowley grew up sailing on Lake Michigan, ran away to sea at age 19, and ended up sailing around the world and founding an international boat chartering business. Somewhere along the line, she says, she started describing the vast, continuous expanse of water that covers 71 percent of the planet and creates most of our air as "the global ocean."
"It really is all connected," she said. "The health of the oceanic ecosystem is very important to the health of the planet. There's a terrible misconception that the oceans are so vast they can be used as a garbage pail."
When she began to see trash underwater, Crowley realized that future generations wouldn't be able to enjoy the oceans the way she has. She decided to take action four years ago when she began to see an increase in the garbage covering the North Pacific Gyre.
"I kept seeing the message that there's a terrible problem, but there's nothing we can do," Crowley said, recalling how that messaging and her own sense of urgency prompted her to found Project Kaisei to increase public understanding of what's in the gyre.
"If you're in the area for a couple of weeks, you have days when you feel you're voyaging through a field of scattered garbage," she said. "And when you look out, you see garbage on the horizon."