Chilli Empower expedition in Amazonas

Carl J Nesset
Apr 22, 2019 · 6 min read

Martin (aka captain) and his crew on Chilli have been on an amazing journey so far. From setting sail in Oslo July 2018, Highland sailing (where the boat almost burned down), trying to learn french, and even loosing the life boat (later they retrieved it) to reaching the other side of the Atlantic.

Now it’s time to give an update from the South America, where Martin shares his action plan below (more pics are coming, when he reaches a more stable internet connection!).

Here is part one of “Stop-it-at-Source” from Martin:

Hi friends. I’d like to share more experiences from the journey soon (also follow Chilli on instagram here), but right now I believe it’s key we address the pressing problem; we simply cannot only beach-clean, recycle and exchange our take-away-food-containers-for fancy-metal-ones our way out of the plastic crisis. We have to eliminate the source of shit before it hits the fan.

Most of the planet is not cities

It easy to forget that millions of people are still living in huts on poles, in the forests and by the rivers. Fishing and working the land, with limited access to the internet and the stream of information we are used to. They do simply not get exposed to the fact that pollution is a worldwide problem, more than what they observe themselves.

Their fish is full of plastic, the livestock eats it and gets sick, and even if they get exposed to campaigns and information about plastic pollution, it is to a large degree simply too external to take in and understand. They might see polluted beaches, the great gyres, whales washed up on some beach and clogged rivers with plastic, but this is outside their world.

Plastic is a fairly new concept in the third world, and in all history, their system of the renovation was to discard with all items no longer needed in the rivers and nature. When this was purely based on organic materials, which everything in their practical life consisted of, there was no problem. Now the material has changed from wood, plant fibre, glass, metal and minerals to plastic, but the habits of discernment have not changed.

Who am I, and who are we?

I`m Martin, 26-year-old, sailing around the world in my boat Chilli. In the past year since I left home, I’ve seen things I did not believe. I mean, whales, what the hell!? Astonishing nature, truly mindblowing what this blue ball has been able to create. It also created humans, which is in itself unbelievable. Humans created plastic, but I do not accept this is a suicidal attempt from mother earth`s side. Childhood do leave scars, but we will recover and grow; I recognize the current time-period as the modern humans’ adolescence and its time to tackle some childhood trauma.

What I almost daily observe is people casually throwing full bags of garbidge straight in the river. Restaurant owners emptying their trashbin straight in the river. Discardings of all things in the water, just for convenience. Large pieces of polystyrene discharged overboard from the fishing vessels. There is to a large degree simply no awareness that plastic does not belong in the water!

This happens all over Amazonas, which results in more than 66 000 tonnes of plastic entering the oceans every year from only this river.

Being raised in a part of the world with a tremendous focus on environmental morale and awareness, we knew that we helped to save the world as long as we folded the milk-cartons, turned the light off, sorted and recycled waste with precision.

What I recognize is that we have to some degree continued this hyper-awareness about our own backyard, polishing the Tesla, while we forget that the neighbours’ house is on fire, and the fire is spreading.

There is, hands down, an extraordinary array of great people, companies, and solutions being applied nowadays, but after meeting countless sailors and travellers who see and experience the same as I, and are equally clewless about what to do about it (other than cleaning beaches);

I really ought to exploit this group of nomads by giving them (us) a tool to make a difference in all the strangest corners of the world we might happen to be and explore.

“Stop it at Source”- aims to address the problem locally -globally, in their language, with an approach the locals understand. We want to build a base of easily adaptable communication tools, to educate and provide solutions to the people living outside the modern hyperconnectedness.

The We

As well as asking for economic support to put this concept to life, we are;

Calling all sailors, nomads, travellers and locals, looking to have an impact.

No one can save the world alone, so I am with this, looking to combine forces with people with the same intentions, and build a platform for communication to support a community, and share skills and knowledge.

As by now, “the we” consists of “Chilli”, “Thorben”, a swiss-brazilian activist couple with decades of experience in Brazil, and our local friends, supplying invaluable strategic information.

What do we do about it?

“Stop it at Source”- aims to address the problem locally, in their language, with an approach the locals understand. This is radically different than how we do it in the west. It requires an understanding of the local cultures mentality, values, hierarchies and capacity of understanding.

The aim is to design a package of printable flyers and posters easily editable to fit the local environment, print and distribute. Specific content aimed at

  • The general public
  • Fishermen / farmers
  • Restaurants and Cafes
  • Convenience stores and farmers markets
  • Schools

This is also meant as a tool for local NGO`s to get an easily accessible tool to distribute information without extended skills in graphic design, access or knowledge about software and computers.

Goals pr Location

Step 1: The educational campaign — address the problem, raise consciousness
Step 2: Establish local NGO
Step 3: Introduce Empower — Giving plastic a value! (see

Why start here?

Marajo is an enormous isle covering the whole mouth of the Amazon basin, meaning all water going out to the ocean passes here. Soure is the capital of the island, which is a great starting point for working inwards through Amazonas (which does not need further introduction regards importance). There is also tourism here, meaning it`s already a focus on tidiness.

To get the information out, it has to be hands-on, physical presence, “offline” presentations of media and printed content.

Only the start

Amazonas is only the start. I aim to interrogate as many of the great rivers of the world as possible during my circumnavigation, and calling for partners to report and educate where they are.

The 10 great rivers of the world contribute to more than 90% of all plastic-pollution!

What we need

To do this we would humbly ask support for

  • Prints
  • Distribution
  • A computer powerful enough to work with media

There is truly frustrating to have knowledge of media production and resources to set it out to life, but not the basic tools to do it!

Não Dineros? Não Problema!

Reaching out to all sailors, nomads and travelers in all corners of the world who will help to spread the knowledge and battling plastic pollution — get in touch! Your geographical position may be golden; there is the local presence which is key to this project, and we would be super excited to grow the base of Source Ambassadors!

If you are not out travelling, maybe you know someone who is?


Empower - a global solution to plastic waste