Part of the global 'Planet or Plastic?' initiative, phase two of the Padma river expedition will focus on informing and identifying solutions to help tackle the global plastic crisis
National Geographic's female-led team has returned to Bangladesh and India for the second phase of 'Sea to Source: Ganges' post-monsoon expedition.
The second phase of the all-women expedition along the Padma river in Bangladesh and India will track differences and similarities in plastic pollution activity following monsoon season in this iconic river system.
The expedition aims to mobilise a global community of experts to help tackle the global problem of plastic pollution. During the expedition, the team will measure post-monsoon plastic pollution levels in the river and surrounding communities, also will conduct interviews and solution workshops at each site.
The expedition, in partnership with the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), the Indian Institute of Technology, the University of Dhaka, Wild Team, and the Isabela Foundation will also focus on documenting how plastic waste travels from source to sea and filling the critical knowledge gaps around plastic flow, load, and composition.
The initiative is also supported by Tata Trusts in India, said a press release of National Geographic.
"Ocean plastic pollution is a global crisis. Every year, about 9 million metric tons of plastic are added, with rivers acting as major conveyor belts that move plastic debris into the ocean," said Heather Koldewey, National Geographic Fellow, Explorer and scientific co-lead of the "Sea to Source: Ganges" expedition.
"Our focus on this expedition is to understand how people and plastic connect with the Padma river and ultimately the ocean, using our data to raise awareness and identify solutions."
The first phase of the river expedition took place in May-July of this year.
During the expedition, the all-female team of scientists, engineers and explorers conducted nine community workshops on solutions to plastic waste, interviewed more than 250 individuals about their perceptions and use of plastic, took more than 300 environmental samples, and documented more than 56,000 pieces of debris using the Marine Debris Tracker app.
They also released 3,000 biodegradable wooden 'drift cards' and 10 plastic 'bottle tags' to track the movement of plastic waste using community engagement both on land and in waterways.