From Sao Paulo Beach to Fighting Plastic Pollution in Switzerland : An Interview with Gabriele Kull

Expedition Plastik

Gabriele Kull on tour with Expedition Plastik

BioApply: Gabriele, you are a journalist and film producer: Where does your engagement against the Plastic Pollution come from ?
Gabriele Kull: I produce documentary films because I want to tell people interesting stories about our world. I tell stories about exceptional people and about things people don’t really know about. I have been interested in ecological issues since I was a child. I was raised in Brazil, Sao Paulo – a very polluted city. On the weekends we used to escape to our beach house to enjoy nature. Our beach used to be very clean in the beginning but over time there was a growing amount of trash polluting the shores. I was very upset and decided to do something about it one day. I took me some decades to become aware of the magnitude of the problem and to discover that plastics is the worst kind of waste in our oceans.


BioApply: You were part of the project “Expedition Plastik”: What is it about ?
Gabriele Kull: Plastic pollution is one of these topics, people know only half of the truth. I wanted to tell all about it – especially to the young generation. Since young people aren’t so much interested in standard documentary films I opted for a short web based form – called video-blog or web-series. Together with my main sponsor Swisscom, who engages in ecological topics, I developed a web-series for social media about plastic pollution. We organized an expedition into the Indian Ocean to document all aspects of this global ecological problem. The Indian Ocean is one of the most polluted seas in the world, since Indonesia and also Australia have very bad waste management systems. Much of the waste dumped into the ocean degrades in less than 10 years. Yet most of it is plastic and this material takes about 500 years to disappear and we don’t know if it will ever totally degrade.

Together with a Swiss sailing team and with one of the most well-known experts on plastic pollution, Dr. Marcus Eriksen, we sailed from Bali to Christmas Island and Cocos Island in the Indian Ocean. We took samples of the micro plastics on our way and documented the huge amount of plastic trash washed up on pristine beaches of remote islands. Our presenter Roman interviewed many experts about the problem and bit by bit explained the multiple aspects of plastic pollution.

The series has 22 Episodes and we’ve produced 6 extra episodes, discussing the local plastic problem in Switzerland. Here you can watch the episodes in one film:


BioApply: You are about to launch a coalition against plastic pollution in Switzerland: Why should Switzerland engage, do we have a problem at all?
Gabriele Kull: We see that people in Switzerland are spoiled and have the idea that the waste they produce is being recycled or incinerated. Yet we have data telling a different story. Plastic waste is found in increasing amounts all over Switzerland. Recent studies show that not only our lakes and rivers are polluted with micro-plastics and nano-plastics. Plastic particles and toxins which adhere to plastic were found in Swiss Honey and in Beer – products which are normally known to be „pure“. In Switzerland cosmetic products containing plastic micro-beads are still being sold. Plastic bags are given away for free in our grocery stores and take-aways. In Europe and some states in the US micro-beads and one-way plastic bags are being banned. In Switzerland such bans seem not to be viable and are fought by strong pro-plastic lobbies. That’s why we’ve decided to launch an interest group against plastic pollution in Switzerland.


23.07.2015, by Sarah Keller (BioApply)

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