3000 Nautical Miles
X Trillion Pieces of Plastic
A life-affirming story of adventure, discovery, science and solidarity.
"We are about as far away from civilisation as one can get. Yet here, all around us, is evidence
of our daily lives on land. Our choices. Our purchases. This is your old toothbrush, my empty
shampoo bottle, the lid to his coffee cup.” – Michelle Byle, packaging designer
One thousand miles from land. The closest humans orbit above in the space station. A lone
boat awakens to calm. Then, a fragment. Followed by a toothbrush, a washing basket, a garden
chair. Surface samples bring up handfuls of tiny microplastics. Looking out over the ocean, a
few pieces of plastic float visibly in sight. But a realisation dawns – we’re looking at a dense
soup of tiny pieces. The crew record an average of half a million pieces of microplastics per
square kilometre here, and that is only on the surface. Who knows how much is in the 5,000
metres of water beneath.
There are thought to be 500 times more pieces of microplastic in the sea than stars in our
galaxy. And every tiny fragment of plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch has come from
somewhere. Some things are so vast, complex and far away that they seem impossible to
grasp, and harder to recount. But change is wrought through personal testimony, and heroes are
made at sea. X Trillion takes us aboard with the all-women crew of eXXpedition North Pacific as
they sail out of their comfort zone and into the unknown, becoming witnesses to a global
problem and emerging transformed.
The scientist. The activist. The circular economist. The designer. From stargazers to slide
analysers, impossible problems call on us all. This is the story of a boat of strangers in a vast
ocean, cutting a course from despair to hope; through research, discussions and personal
journeys. In a crew built of artists, engineers, teachers and thinkers we find a floating model for
Embarking upon the adventure with goals and motivations both personal and professional, the
crew members tackle extreme emotional and physical challenges. As we get to know our
characters on the wild sea, relationships between them develop through the daily rhythms of life
aboard. We follow them as they gather scientific data for ten international research projects,
witnessing their emotional highs and numbing lows as they uncover explosive truths about the
impact of toxics on our bodies – female bodies in particular – and come to terms with the
gaping holes in existing research.
eXXpedition North Pacific is the 10th eXXpedition mission - it set out for answers to questions
like: Where is the plastic coming from? What does it mean for our natural world and human
health? And what can be done to solve it? With the realisation that there is no silver bullet to
solve this monumental problem, the voyages, led by Emily Penn, aim to inspire women from a
broad spectrum of professions to dedicate their lives to finding solutions, creating an army of
ambassadors to transform our future.
From observational footage of life on board – freezing night shifts, seasickness and solidarity –
to sweeping documentation of the wilderness – soaring albatrosses and a pod of miraculous
dolphins – X Trillion reframes the exploration narrative to fit a contemporary crisis, where the
untouched is untouched no longer. First-hand accounts enable viewers to share in the incredible
adventure of the women who sailed right through the most catastrophic environmental disaster
created by humans, and to realise just what it will take to emerge at the other side.
Through realisations and revelations, X Trillion tells a story filled with life, magic and a call to
action that burns with hope.