Japan SailGP Team takes ‘plastic promise’

San Francisco residents are being asked to tackle pollution by ditching plastic during the SailGP race weekend.  

The Japan SailGP Team is calling on San Francisco residents to take the ‘plastic promise’ in a bid to combat plastic pollution during the race. 

The Japan entry in sailing’s pinnacle league currently sits third in the SailGP championship heading into the San Francisco race on 26 – 27 March with 51 points. 

By taking the ‘promise’ residents will give up one plastic item forever, and during race weekend will wear plastic-free clothing, and buy no food and drink wrapped in plastic. 

The promise is formed in partnership with global solutions organisation A Plastic Planet.  

It’s estimated more than seven trillion microplastics wash from San Francisco’s streets into the bay each year – the equivalent of one million pieces per man, woman, and child in the bay area.[i] 

With teams additionally scored for their purpose-led environmental initiatives, Japan SailGP chose tackling plastic pollution and its impact on the climate crisis.  

The partnership will see Japan SailGP and A Plastic Planet work towards a plastic-free world as part of SailGP’s #RacefortheFuture purpose-led agenda. 

The Team’s purpose reads: “Unwrapping Japan, working towards a plastic free world to help fight climate change”.  

A Plastic Planet’s ‘Working Towards Plastic Free’ Commitment Mark will appear on the team’s 24 metre wingsail during the race.  

As part of the partnership, residents will be asked to take the San Francisco Plastic Promise in a bid to bring the whole community together in the fight against plastic pollution. 

Those taking the San Francisco Plastic Promise will be asked to: 

1.       Choose one plastic thing in your life and give it up forever –  

This could be anything, from replacing a plastic toothbrush with a bamboo one, to switching from single-use plastic bags to a reusable cotton one which can be used time and time again. 

2.       Try to wear completely plastic free clothing for race weekend –  

That means no polyester! Some 70 per cent of all material made into clothing is plastic. As clothes are washed, they shed plastic synthetic fibres which then enter the environment. Try instead to wear materials made from natural materials such as cotton or organic linen.  

3.       Buy no food and drink for race weekend that is wrapped in plastic  

Forty percent of all plastic produced is made into packaging, all of which will end up in landfill, polluting the environment, or being incinerated. Instead, make your own picnic without plastic, and avoid plastic cellophane by using aluminium foil or food wrap paper. Avoid the urge to use single-use plastic bottles, and instead opt for a reusable metal drinks bottle which you will be able to use again and again. 

SailGP races for a better future, championing a world powered by nature. It’s an annual, global sports championship featuring the sport’s best athletes representing eight nations.  

They race in identical supercharged catamarans – that fly above the water at high speeds – competing for sailing’s largest monetary prize of $1m.  

Each of its eight teams race for a purpose, and the entire event is climate-positive and clean energy focused. Its ambition is to be the world’s most sustainable and purpose-driven global sports and entertainment platform.  

The championship consists of nine events, which take place across the globe throughout the season.  

Sian Sutherland, Co-Founder of A Plastic Planet, said: “San Francisco is one of the iconic places on the planet, and even though it is a world leader on environmental initiatives, it cannot escape plastic’s toxic grip. 

“Sport has the ability to bring about huge change at a global scale, and SailGP is at the forefront of inspiring that change with its purpose-led agenda. We’re proud to partner with the Japan SailGP Team who are showing real leadership to drive plastic-free change. 

“By taking the San Francisco Plastic Promise, residents can show they’re willing to meet the crisis head-on with real action by saying NO to plastic. The SailGP competition is truly inspiring to watch, and we hope it will inspire everyone to push on in tackling plastic.” 

Nathan Outteridge Skipper and Helmsman for the Japan SailGP Team said:  “SailGP is a unique event because you race for much more than the win just on the water. Every team has a purpose and a commitment to deliver a better future for our sport and the planet. We all race for the future.

“Plastic is a much bigger crisis than what we can see in our oceans and environment, it’s intrinsically linked to climate change too because it’s made of fossil fuels. It was important to us that we recognised its all-encompassing impact when we decided upon our purpose. We chose A Plastic Planet as our cause because they recognise this. They’re not just focused on tackling plastic pollution, but are driven to turn the plastic tap off at source.”   

Kazuhiko ‘Fuku’ Soufuku, COO of the Japan SailGP Team said: “Living in Japan, we have plastic everywhere. We’re the third biggest producer of plastic in the world, and so much of what we buy is wrapped in it. It’s important that as a nation we start working towards being plastic free, and we’re proud to be displaying this message and purpose on our boat to a global audience.” 

By Jacob Metcalf, Higginson Strategy 

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