During his search, he also encounters a so-called clean-up team. Every morning 18 men and women drive out to one of the countless islands off the Norwegian coast. Nobody lives there, but there are mountains of garbage washed up by the sea. The team collects the rubbish, fills it in sacks and takes it away – a Sisyphean task that will never completely solve the problem. Because microplastics are so small that you can never collect everything.
In the research station, the waste is sorted according to origin. Rubbish has washed up here from every continent on earth. Stephan Krones says that he felt constantly stunned during the days he spent there. “I couldn’t believe that this big crew does nothing but clean up here every day.” He asked them how they do it, to which the answer was: “Well, you pick a corner and don’t stop until it’s clean and then you take on the next corner.” Krones was very impressed by that.
The new documentary is a road trip and research project rolled into one
In the end, the experiment succeeds. He finds 9 out of 11 of his drifters. Some have actually been pushed as far as the Arctic. However, the joy of finding his buoys was double-edged, he says: “Because you really want to find them again, it’s like a kind of scavenger hunt. You’re so involved in the game. What you find out in the game, however, is anything but beautiful.”
The important thing about my film is that […] concretely we see that the stuff from here really ends up there.
Alongside the story of the scientific adventure of chasing garbage, the film uses the power of big pictures to showcase the beauty of our planet. He wants to raise awareness, because marine litter is not the only threat to the Arctic’s fragile ecosystem. And he makes it very clear: In our globalized world, no place is far enough away that we are not responsible for it.
editing: Sabrina Gierig