“I never thought that this project would speak to the imagination of so many people. Before and during the expedition, we were too close to it, too involved. Now it feels like we’re taking some distance and that’s when you realize it’s a lot bigger than we thought.” – Liesbeth Ter Veldt Clean2Antarctica: (We Need New Currency, Though, Not Plastic Coins)

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Above Lisbeth Ter Velde Image: Clean2Antarctica

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Above: The Solar Voyager car that nearly reached the south pole this Christmas

The wonderful vision to take a car made from community recycled plastic to the south pole was hampered by weather conditions so they didn’t actually get there. The project though, didn’t feel it had failed and the Clean2Antarctica team merrily blogged about how it’s the goal achieved, not the metric of targets that’s important.

The history of the project as documented on their website and publicised by the BBC Click tech programme started with children sorting common or garden plastic (using urban mining techniques!):

  1. reclaiming plastic,
  2. cleaning it and
  3. making chips and tiles that can be
  4. melted into a filament
  5. 30 3 d printers work to create a 4,000 piece jigsaw puzzle of recycled plastic hexagons
  6. which is pieced together to become….

The Clean2 Antarctica team head travellers were Edwin Ter Velde and Liesbeth Ter Velde. Their journey ended at 82 degrees, short of the South Pole. They decided not to continue because of constant whiteouts and the toll on the car’s batteries.

The Clean2Antarctica is crowdfunded and clearly for social value and purpose.

In thinking about this project I realised that we need to think about the historical, social, economic and cultural detritus that collects like toxic waste around noble ideas and to recycle and repurpose those, too.

In the 21st century, if you want to fly and enjoy a week in the south pole, you have to be wealthy, free of the rentier, the gig, the supply chain, immigration economy of agencies and gig labour that provide the capital and assets that fund this type of exploration in much the same way as funding for exploration was found for european explorers throughout history.

Pole exploration merchandising goes right back to the days of imperial Europe.

It’s part of heritage Britain as much as the Countryside Alliance, a way of thinking about other people and countries where lack of empathy is normalised. Polite hostility towards difference isn’t examined, challenged or made accountable.

In the kind of tourism and exploration we’ve normalised since the second world war what’s hidden is that others are always seen as inferior objects for exploitation and humiliation. If you don’t get the joke about you, you need to become a good sport. But sport just now, like our culture, is very poorly and needs recuperation.

Contrasts: The World Under Privileged Eyes

We need to understand just what the privileges of tourist economy dreaming since the second world war are really doing. How we’ve outgrown them, how we need new ways of relating, connecting and trading with the wider world with empathy.

More and more of us are beginning to question the seemingly neutral roles of holidaymaker, explorer, travel writer, migrant worker, ‘holiday’ provider, (even plastic recycler),  because they really aren’t making the world any better, aren’t moving us forward into a fairer, less warlike and opportunity full world for more people, more of the time?

Why? Because no relationships that might transform and narrow the gap between race and class privilege, might introduce new economic models are ever made in these settings.

Since the second world war we’ve accepted all forms of tourism and exploration to fascist countries (and countries that we’ve stolen from and exploited) without any sense that we have any empathy or morality.

We’ve ignored their needs for reconstruction as we maintain a hostile environment against others not like us. We look at Ibiza as a hippy trail, now colonised by poor africans selling tack and normalise these attitudes, not thinking that if we had more respect for these countries, their people and potential we could have new economic, educational, social and cultural relationships.

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Above: Hostile Holiday of a Lifetime courtesy of the contracted out supply chain of Immigration. Explorer Adnan Hashi who came here at six, experienced the hostile environment, broke the law at 17, served his sentence, yet now at 20, has been deported to Mogadishu which is suffering political instability. He is now begging on the streets of Mogadishu. There was no need for this.

In 2019 we need each other, we need to learn, we need to move on from the continual mistakes and failures of an over and underprivileged society. We need to give credit to everyone: it’s their human right.