A new study estimates that the Baltic Sea is polluted by about 40 tonnes of microplastics that originates from our use of various cosmetics and personal care products, such as scrubbs, shower gel and toothpaste - every year.

- The pollution from personal care products constitute a small part of the total input of microplastics to the sea, but it is also relatively easy to decrease, according to Katja Broeg at the Stockholm University Baltic Sea Centre, who led the study. There are good alternatives on the market and a lot of brands have already started to phase out these particles in their products. If people stop buying and using products containing microplastics, this needless pollution can be completely stopped.

Knowledge is necessary to take action

It is to raise awareness among regular consumers that the two adventurers Oskar Kihlborg and Sören Kjellkvist will take their unstable stand up paddel boards for a remarkably long paddle adventure.

Oskar Kihlborg is known for his engagement in Baltic Sea issues and aims at spreading knowledge by his extraordinary adventures. There is a growing worry among scientist that microplastics will seriously harm the marine environment.

- But everyone can take a stand regarding this issue, by simply choosing products without microplastics. A good rule of thumb is to avoid buying products containing polyethylene or PE, he says.

Sampling while paddling

During the paddling Oskar and Sören will drag small nets after their paddle boards. Sofia Bejgarn, researcher at the Department of environmental science and analytical chemistry at Stockholm University has helped prepare the sampling gear and will supervise the analyses after the paddling.

- We tested the nets in water tanks here at the department to see how much heavier it would be to paddle with them and then developed the most optimal solution, says Sofia Bejgarn. It will be really interesting to see how much plastic they capture.

The paddle route is planned to span from Stockholm to Visby, but the exact route depends on the weather and wind conditions. 

- We plan to paddle for about 14 days, says Sören Kjellkvist. The most advanced part is the open sea beyond the archipelago, there we will have many hours in a row on the board. And we go without any accompanying vessels.

- But you said this would be easy, Oskar Kihlborg says with laughter!

Film made by Gustav Morin at Hamnen.se