Green Talk is a blog series featuring interviews with people working in environmental science, circular design, sustainability and green business. We tell stories of kick ass people and their passion!
Dr. Imogen Napper is a marine scientist and National Geographic Explorer working with marine plastics.
MP. Could you tell in your own words who you are and what you do?
Imogen. I am a marine scientist. My research investigates the impact of marine litter in our oceans and finds solutions to stop it.
MP. What are your earliest memories interacting with the natural world?
Imogen. I was lucky to grow up in a small seaside town called Clevedon in the South-West of the UK. Exploring rockpools was a mission of mine from a young age! One of my earliest memories was learning to skim stones in the sea with my family.
MP. What is your mission in life?
Imogen. If you imagine the problem of marine litter being a huge empty puzzle and the solution to fixing it was to put in the puzzle pieces; I want to fill as many of those pieces as I can.
MP. What do you think is the most effective way to get people to care about the plastic problem?
Imogen. Take a step out your front door, take a deep breath and remind yourself how refreshing being outside is. It is the best way to remind ourselves why we need to protect the environment.
MP. Your work helped ban microbeads in cosmetics. Could you tell more about this work and why it is important?
Imogen. Our research found that over 3 million plastic particles (microbeads) could be in one facial scrub bottle. So, with a squirt on your hand there could be over 10 thousand. We would wash our faces and then these microbeads would go down the sink and potentially into our oceans. For consumers, it showed us that we have a choice and voice in what we are buying, and subsequently many people stopped buying these products. It also influenced legislation banning facial scrubs containing them in the U.K. This was the most fantastic feeling and exactly why I decided to get into research.
MP. What achievement of yours are you most proud of in life?
Imogen. Winning the Marine Conservation Society Volunteer of the Year Award for my outreach work in schools. I feel teaching children about the ocean and how to protect it is really important, as they are the future.
MP. You took part in eXXpedition all-women sailing voyage with a focus on plastics and toxics in the oceans. Tell about this experience?
Imogen. It was an incredible experience where I was the lead scientist on leg 2. We were collecting data to understand more about the fate of plastic in our oceans. I was joined by a group of inspiring women, all from different walks of life.
It taught me 2 key things.
1 - You can create powerful change with shared passion and knowledge.
2 – Everyone has different skills and attributes which can contribute to the solution.
This is a shared problem and therefore a shared solution – we all play a part in making our oceans healthy again.