French swimmer to slog through Great Pacific Garbage Patch, with aid from NZ company

Source: 1News

A French long-distance swimmer who's about to swim 300 nautical miles through The Great Pacific Garbage Patch says he hopes having his eyes in the plastic and synthetic fibre trash will bring the world's attention to the problem.

Ben Lecomte will swim through 1.8 trillion pieces of trash, across the Pacific Ocean, Seven Sharp reported.

The area of plastic pollution, in a remote area of the ocean near Hawaii, is three times the size of France and experts call it a global threat.

Mr Lecomte told Seven Sharp from Hawaii he decided to swim through the pollution, "because if you don't have your eyes in it, if you don't have a person there, it's out of sight out of mind". 

"So what we do in that expedition is to bring everybody in that big location, and hopefully get the attention on the problem that we have with microfibre and microplastic."

He said it's a "big myth" that the pollution is a big floating island of plastic.

"It's not a big floating island that we're stepping on, just a high concentration of very small pieces of plastic."

There is a lot of things that as an individual we can change and make a big difference

—  Ben Lecomte, French long-distance swimmer

While single-use plastic bags get the blame for contamination in our oceans, Mr Lecomte said that's only part of the problem.

"The last time around the swim I did starting from Japan, we saw a lot of plastic that we use in our daily life like cards, like a bottle of oil and so on. So there is a lot of things that as an individual we can change and make a big difference," he said.

Mr Lecomte is involved in his latest journey with New Zealand company Icebreaker, which makes clothing out of natural fibres.

He agreed that if we're not wearing natural fibres we're polluting the oceans by just washing artificial fibres.

"Absolutely. We know that it has a big impact on the endocrine system. We know that it's even in our drinking water. So changing our habit and having a more natural life, it's essential," he said.

When he hits the water, Mr Lecomte said he'll use freestyle stroke and wear fins, a snorkel, goggles and a wetsuit. 

"But I stay about eight hours per day in it."