Tuesday 25 June, 2019 | News

A Trip to Burkina Faso

In a Nutshell

Burkina Faso: 20 million inhabitants, six bordering countries, and zero connection whatsoever to the Ocean. Yet, it is there that our team at Plastic Odyssey decided to conduct our second field study to prepare for the big Expedition next year.

Our adventure goes way beyond the ocean and its shores, plastic pollution is not just found on our coasts: it’s everywhere! To fight against this evil, we need to trace it back to the source: the Earth.” explains Alexandre Dechelotte, head of Communications for the Expedition.

The Field Study: a Short Story

Paris, January 25th: it’s -6°C outside as we get ready to take the metro to the airport. A few hours later when we step off the plane it’s +38°C. The earth is red, the air is dry, and everyone around us is smiling. In the Country of Honest Men, when people greet you they ask about your family and talk about their own, even if you’re a perfect stranger. The country we begin to discover is fascinating, its people unique and inspiring. Valentin, always behind his lens, films everything. He just joined the team as a film director and for the first time he comments on his footage: “C’est de la transboulette!” (meaning: “These images are incredible!”)

The country is drowning in plastic. Its local infrastructures are unable to deal with the constant flow of waste that accumulates on, and in, its land… Consequently, the plastic becomes part of the décor. To fight this, local and international organizations have become invested in the subject. It’s upon discovering one of these initiatives, Nouvelle Planète (New Planet), that we decided to conduct this field study.

In July of 2018, our team met Isabelle Chevalley, a Swiss green-liberal activist fighting for the recovery and reuse of wastes, and against mismanaged dumpsites. Being a representative for Nouvelle Planète, she asked us to build them recycling machines using the Open Source designs of our friends at Precious Plastics. A couple of months later, two shredders and two extruders were sent to the site. In order to finish the installation, our team made its way there, arriving in January of 2019.

A Voice for Plastic Odyssey

Alice David, an Engaged Actress

The voice we hear telling this story is that of Alice David. Alice is a renowned French actress, having played in the French series BREF and more recently in the French movie Demi-soeurs. Alice is involved in several organizations such as “No More Plastic” where she plays the role of ambassador. It is, accordingly, her personal values that led her to give us her voice for what would become Plastic Odyssey’s first short documentary a couple of months after our return.

Alice, what led you to decide to join the adventure that is Plastic Odyssey? How does the protection of the Ocean affect your life on a daily basis?

For several years now I have travelled to surf. I noticed a lot of pollution just about everywhere, in France as well as in other places. That’s when I realized the urgency with which we need to act to protect our oceans as well as life on Earth.

After having given your voice to Tomb Raider, today you give your gift to Plastic Odyssey! What was the message for you in our project that convinced you to take part in it?

I was very attracted to the approach Plastic Odyssey takes because today there’s a tendency to focus on putting the blame on the greater public as opposed to focussing on finding concrete answers to the global plastic problem. Plastic Odyssey brings to the table an apparent solution: turning plastic into a raw material that is considered precious just about everywhere in the world. This approach is therefore super positive and constructive to me.

Being an ambassador, is there anything you would like to say to the readers who need a little extra inspiration?

The ocean contributes to our equilibrium on earth, without it, nothing would be possible. It is equally an incredible source of richness. It is paramount that we take care of it.

Our turn to say something. A message for you, Alice:

Thank you for your commitment and your work. We are very proud of what you have done for us. On behalf of the whole team and community at Plastic Odyssey: welcome on board! We’ll save a spot for you.

The Story Behind Transboulette

Valentin Proult, a remarkable film director

He joined us during this trip and has remained by our side ever since. First behind his lens and later in command of an awesome team, he shot the best images and the result goes beyond what we could have ever expected.

Here we introduce the man behind the camera.

Valentin: 30 Years Old, a Moustache and a Big Smile

In 2010, Valentin leaves France to go to Canada where he pursues his studies, eventually leading him to write his thesis on the impacts of climate change. It’s then that he becomes aware of the fragile state of our planet.

My studies on the subject struck me. Global warming has gone as far as to affect the culture and traditions of a civilization that has been present on ice for 14000 years, that of the Inuit. So I decided to go live in the Yukon and Alaska for 6 months to build ties with Indigenous populations. I especially found their harmonious relationship with nature fascinating. This trip is one that will stay with me as I continue to find my way.

Upon his return, change of plans: he trades scientific methodology and experiments for scripts and cameras. In 2016, he heads towards Kyrgyzstan to follow nomads and their traditional sport on horseback, Kok Boru. In the fall of 2017, he starts a series on the memoirs of a hunter from Northern Canada. Finally, in 2018, he finds himself in the Humboldt Currents with Juan, a Peruvian fisher. Juan goes down the waterfalls every day, without any safety measures and by the strength of his arms using his hemp rope. Along the way, he finds plastic everywhere, even in the heart of the Amazon, a couple of days away from all civilization. It is then that he realizes something must be done before it’s too late.

One day, I got an email from Benjamin from Plastic Odyssey who heard about my travels. And so the plastic odyssey began!

To learn more about his work, check out Look Around You, the creative video sudio whose creation Valentin Proult played a part in.