#8: Christian Shaw – Adventurer and Founder of Plastic Tides

#8: Christian Shaw – Adventurer and Founder of Plastic Tides Nature's Archive


My guest in this episode is Christian Shaw, adventurer and co-founder of Plastic Tides. Plastic Tides is a non-profit with a mission “to inspire and catalyze action toward a plastic-free future through adventure, education, and youth empowerment”. As you’ll hear today, Christian has a multi-faceted program to accomplish this. A graduate of Cornell University, Christian has become an expert on plastic pollution, its causes, and ways to mitigate the impact. He strikes an excellent balance of vision, science, and pragmatism in his approach.

In addition to Plastic Tides, Christian talks about how he was able to merge his love for adventure with his passion for the planet. He’s circumnavigated Bermuda on a stand-up paddle board, led a multi-day expedition down the Erie Canal, and more. 

Christian Shaw in Bermuda

Today we’ll talk about Plastic Tides origin, how Christian turned a project idea into a non-profit that he now leads, including how he got fiscal sponsorship. We get into the weeds of plastic pollution in the ocean and our waterways, plastic waste management, plastic alternatives, and the full impact of plastic microbeads and how they accelerate the accumulation of toxins in the food chain. We also discuss some of the latest science, including enzymatic breakdown of plastics, as well as the field of permaculture– a broad systems view combining community, ecosystem sustainability, culture, and economics.

Also, Christian gives us the details on Plastic Tide’s Global Youth Mentorship Program (GYM) and the Global Rising Tide Relay fundraiser, a wonderful cause to mentor high school students to make long lasting environmental progress.

Find Plastic Tides on Facebook and Instagram. And you can Find Christian @chriscrossshaw on Instagram.


People and Organizations Discussed

In rough chronological order

5gyres.org – The 5 Gyres Institute is a leader in the global movement against plastic pollution.

SEA Semester of Woods Hole

Dr. Sherri “Sam” Mason – well known plastic pollution researcher who helped Christian’s team analyze their Erie Canal water samples.

Dr. Marcus Eriksen – environmental scientist and co-founder of 5gyres.org

The Foundation Group – Christian used this company to set up his 501c3

Anato – A zero-waste skin care line

Books and Things

Note: links to books are affiliate links

Plastic Tides Four Part Web Series on the Bermuda Expedition – on YouTube.

Microbead Free Waters Act of 2015 – H.R. 1321 – which Christian’s research partially contributed to this outcome

Oceanic Gyres – permanent, large scale circular currents in the ocean that drive weather and result in accumulation of waste and debris

The Canal – Christian’s hour long documentary of his Erie Canal expedition Watch it here.

Planet Money’s Waste Land podcast, discusses the fallacy of plastic recycling

New “Super Enzyme” discovery we discussed.

Music Credits

Opening – Fearless First by Kevin MacLoed

Closing – Beauty Flow by Kevin MacLoed

Both can be obtained from https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/

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