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Fight against plastic waste in the oceans: Troisdorf woman cycles from Rome to Cologne Cathedral

Fight against plastic waste in the oceans : Troisdorf woman cycles from Rome to Cologne Cathedral

Almost 2000 kilometres on the bike: Jenny Krist from Troisdorf and her partner collect donations for an environmental project. The couple have been on a world tour since April 2019 - and are now completing the last stage from Rome to Cologne Cathedral by bicycle.

At some point the time had come when they could no longer stand idly by. At some point it was no longer enough to collect the garbage only at individual beaches. They wanted more. Since April 2019, Jenny Krist from Troisdorf and her partner Felix Varga have been on a world tour. On their route through Asia and Australia, they have all too often passed rivers and oceans that were massively polluted with plastic waste. They wanted to fight against this in a sustainable way. Without further ado, the couple decided to launch an appeal for donations: the last leg of their world tour will be covered by bicycle. They will cycle 1835 kilometres from Rome to Cologne Cathedral. With this campaign, they want to raise funds for the environmental project "One Earth - One Ocean", which will rid the oceans of garbage.

"There really is plastic everywhere here," says Jenny Krist on the phone while she is sitting in a restaurant in Khao Sok, Thailand. "While snorkeling, we could sometimes see more trash than fish." Indeed, pollution has increased dramatically in recent decades. According to the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (Nabu), almost 1.5 million tons of plastic were produced worldwide each year in the 1950s. Today the figure is almost 300 million tonnes. According to the environmental protection organisation WWF, 10 million tonnes of this amount ends up in the oceans every year. With devastating consequences. Every year about one million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals die from pollution. The development is not without danger for humans either. According to the German Environmental Aid, microplastics and plasticisers could enter our systems via the food chain.

"One Earth - One Ocean"

"These are bad conditions," says Jenny Krist. "Everyone has a responsibility to do something for the environment," says the 25-year-old. Already during the trip around the world, she and her partner started to switch to means of transport that are as climate-neutral as possible. From Vietnam to Thailand, for example, they travelled exclusively by coach. And on the way back from Rome to the Rhineland, they will be using the bicycle in just under two months.

With this fundraising campaign, the two want to make their own personal contribution to the environment. The route through Italy, France, Switzerland and Germany covers 11,181 metres in altitude. The money that Krist and Varga are collecting with this campaign will go entirely to "One Earth - One Ocean". The couple will pay for all the other equipment they need for the trip - such as bicycles, sleeping bags, tents and provisions - themselves. "However, it will be a challenge to organize the equipment in Rome," says Krist with a smile. Neither of them speaks Italian. "We'll just have to communicate with our hands and feet."

Jenny Krist and Felix Varga return to the Rhineland after almost one year

The supported project is located in Garching near Munich. There are further offices in Kiel, Hamburg, Cambodia, Brazil and Hong Kong. "One Earth - One Ocean" has developed a so-called maritime waste collection system. With two large ships, the organisation collects plastic from seashores and lakes. The waste is then sorted and processed. Frank Brodmerkel, who is responsible for the association's press work, is impressed by Krist and Vargas' commitment: "But I hope that in March it will be warm enough for such a bicycle tour," he says with a laugh. The campaign is an important step to further raise awareness of the problematic development of environmental pollution.

Krist and Varga have already collected 1030 euros less than a month after they started their appeal for donations. How much do they want to achieve in total? "As much as possible," says Krist. The personal goal is 3670 euros. Because: "That is twice 1835 Euros. That's exactly how many kilometers we're covering together on our bikes," explains the 25-year-old.

The two globetrotters have planned a month for the donation bicycle tour. After almost a year in Australia and Southeast Asia, they are grateful for the experiences. At the same time, they are looking forward to meeting friends and family. "We will return with a laugh and tears in our eye," says Krist. It is difficult to put into words what the world trip meant to them: "It is an indescribable feeling.“

Further information about the donation bike tour is available at www.vonromzumdom.de. The couple is also looking for sponsors for bikes and equipment.

(Original text: Judith Nikula; Translation: Mareike Graepel)