Join the SHiFT

Join the SHiFT

eXXpedition founder Emily Penn is launching an innovative platform for individuals and businesses to tackle plastic pollution

In early March, when 14 women boarded the S.V. TravelEdge in Easter Island for Leg 8 of the 30-leg, 2-year voyage around the world, the mysterious virus originating in Wuhan had only just reached European shores and hadn’t yet been classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation.

But as the women sailed through the South Pacific on their way to Tahiti, they found themselves ‘unintentionally self-quarantined at sea’ while back on land ‘the impacts of COVID-19 began to wreak havoc’ as one crew member wrote in a blog post during the journey.

The aim of the eXXpedition Round the World Voyage is to study the impacts of plastic pollution in marine environments – not only at three different levels in the ocean (on the surface, at 25 metres, on the ocean floor) but in coastal communities as well. The ultimate goal is to identify solutions that can be rolled out back on land.

‘The more time I spend at sea, the more I realise the solutions to plastic pollution start on land. There’s no silver bullet to solve the problem but there are hundreds of ways to tackle it. A big challenge for many people is knowing where to start.’

Emily Penn ocean advocate and eXXpedition Founder 

As the crew neared Tahiti and the end of Leg 8, it was clear to Emily and the team that they’d have to temporarily pause the rest of the voyage. With international borders shutting and supply chains being disrupted, the priority was getting the crew home safely and drawing up a new course for the immediate future.

But that’s something that Emily, with a decade of experience at sea, is used to. The seas are unpredictable, with the winds and waves constantly changing direction and force. If you don’t shift your sails, change your course, adapt to new realities…the sea will win every time. So Emily and the team did what they do best. They’ve paused the voyage for a year and shifted focus to a Year of Virtual Impact through their new online tool SHiFT.


Read more: Meet the all-female crew sailing the world studying plastic pollution


SHiFT is an innovative platform, built in collaboration with global technology leaders SAP, to help people and businesses find their role in solving marine plastic pollution. There are hundreds of solutions on the platform that individuals can take part in – filtering the results based on where you want to make the change (from sea to source), across seven aspects of daily life and by using each person’s innate talent or passion.

‘I first developed the SHiFT methodology to help people understand the crux of a problem and weigh up where they have the biggest opportunity to make an impact. 

For years I’ve been using this methodology in my workshops and sailing expeditions and it’s really effective. Working with individuals, businesses and governments around the world, it’s helped them pinpoint where to take action and inspire others to follow.

But for lasting impact we need scale – to be able to help the tens of thousands of people and businesses that reach out saying “I care, I get it, I want to do something!”. Thanks to our partners at SAP, we’re bringing the SHiFT method to digital life as the SHiFT Platform. Now we’ve got a way to help them … and many more and accelerate the journey towards a healthy ocean.’

Emily Penn ocean advocate and eXXpedition Founder 

Each of the SHiFT solutions provide a bit of background on either the problem or the solution itself. They also outline the benefits and challenges of putting that solution in place. They then include a link out to additional information or to take immediate action.

There are individualised solutions like wearing plant-based swimsuits or switching to loose-leaf tea to more complex societal changes if you’re in a position to make decisions, like using bricks made from plastic waste in your next building project or using AI to help manage waste facilities.

Emily analysing a plastic sample. Credit: Sperry.
Emily analysing a plastic sample. Credit: Sperry.

‘At a time when we are all thinking more about our role in the world, people are adapting to new circumstances and ways of doing things. Global sustainability challenges need global action and impact is needed at scale.’

Stephen Jamieson, Head of Sustainable Business Innovation, SAP EMEA

So today, in celebration of World Oceans Day, why not join the movement and discover where you can create a shift that moves us closer to a healthier planet.

Head over to the SHiFT Platform now and get started.