Nature Entrepreneur Paddles 2,467km to the Black Sea to Highlight Plastic Pollution
Entrepreneur and water activist Pascal Rösler completed a 63-daylong journey on the river Isar and Danube from Munich to the Black Sea, to draw attention to the ever-growing pollution problem in our oceans and rivers.
Pascal has a mission — in 25 years we will be able to drink the water from the Danube River again. In 2016 during one of his stand up paddle trips, it dawned on Pascal that although he was paddling a good part of 8 hours a day, he was not able to drink a single drop from the river. Nature has provided us with pure and indispensable water for free, yet we are slowly destroying it. In developing countries, 70 percent of industrial wastes are dumped untreated into waters, polluting the usable water supply. On average, 22 million tons of fertilisers and chemicals are used each year.
The Need For A Shift
Having grown up with avid wind surfing parents, it’s not a surprise that Pascal is completely in his element in nature and on water. Following a successful career in banking and after reading ‘Let My People Go Surfing’ by Patagonia founder Ivon Chouinard, which had a profound effect on Pascal, a question kept creeping up in his mind: what did he really want to achieve during his time on earth? He knew that one day he wanted to start his own organisation that focused on water; and in 2016 during a paddle trip on Lake Starnberg he had the idea to gather Euros for every kilometre that he paddled to help fund water projects worldwide.
He made his first journey from Munich to Vienna over 12 days and 500 km collecting €8,500 for renaturation projects along the river, and by the end of 2016 the idea was born to paddle to the Black Sea collecting more donations and grow awareness around the need to protect our waters and make them drinkable again. Every minute, the equivalent of a dump truck full of plastic waste enters the oceans from the coasts and everyday over four tons of plastic get from the Danube River into the Black Sea alone. 80 percent of marine pollution is from land-based sources. So there is a drastic need for a change in consumer behaviour to clean up our waters not just for our sake but also for our marine life.
In 2017, Pure Water for Generations was born as a charitable organisation focusing on three topics: renaturation of rivers, education about water, and supporting international projects. 70% of the earth is covered in water and everyone knows it is a limited resource, however there needs to be a much bigger shift in people’s mindset to protect the quality and quantity of our oceans, rivers and lakes.
“In the end it is up to us as consumers to decide that we want to change. There is already noticeable change and it can be seen with ecological projects worldwide, however there needs to be a much bigger shift in consumer behaviour if we are going to make a positive impact on our waters”.
Pollution Has Become The Norm For Many
“People need to understand the problem from the root and that it is within our power to change our habits and help clean our waters.”
Oceans, lakes and rivers provide perpetual longevity for everyone and everything on our planet. Without it we simply would perish. Meeting Pascal in Romania during the 2,467km journey, Tiberiu Balica, founder of SUP Academy Romania, states that the rivers in his home country are now full of plastic. However people are starting to ask questions and if they understand the seriousness of the situation for our waters maybe they will start to look at each other and their consumer habits in a different way.
The bigger picture is that there isn’t a strong enough focus on nature. The focus is still too much on business and fiscal gains. People who live purely in nature, grow their own food and live off the land understand the need to protect it. Societies today are totally disconnected from nature and the reality is that we do not see what is happening around us and likely we don’t really want to know about it. Many feel powerless and unable to do anything about the current situation with pollution as it seems so vast. However the most important part when creating change is to take the first step.
Locals along the Danube remember a time when the water was clean and drinkable, however they would never drink from it today. When asked if they think the problem is reversible, they confidently state that it would be impossible to change the current state of the water. Polluted rivers and oceans have become the norm in people’s minds.
“In Europe we have what it feels like unlimited water. We open the tap and water flows out. However in many parts of the world, there is a water shortage and if conditions continue water will simply run out. If people cannot see the problem, they will not do much about it. And it’s not until there is a big problem that people will change and maybe by then it’s too late.”
Hope On The Horizon
According to sustainability experts and researchers Pascal spoke to along his journey, we can in fact turn back the clock and help our rivers and oceans become the clean water sources they once were, by limiting waste and plastic and ensuring the water is protected directly from the source and along its course. By changing consumer habits, oceans can be cleaned up and rivers can absolutely be drunk again. It will take time but it is possible.
Locals who were directly linked to the Danube River and had a connection to the surrounding nature were positive about the possible change and were prepared to do whatever it takes to return the water to its original clean state.
Only a few decades ago it was possible to drink the Danube River. Bogdan Verbina, President Federation of Organisations of Producers of Fish in the Delta, states that as a child he was able to drink the water from the Danube. “Fisherman always drank the water from where they fished, because the water was clear and very good. However that is not possible anymore today”.
With experts and researches stating that it is possible to reverse the water contamination with renaturation projects and hugely limiting our waste, there is hope on the horizon. Change is a possibility and it’s up to us as consumers to make it a reality. Renaturation projects can already be experienced in Sweden, which have already had incredible results with two rivers being brought back to their original state and are now drinkable again. So this clearly shows that where there is a will there is a way.
Thanks to Pascal’s journey to the Black Sea and donations received, a short film documenting the 63-day stand up paddle excursion has been produced and aired in 25 cinemas across Europe reaching more than 3000 people. Attending each viewing, Pascal highlights his experience and the need for global action in cleaning up our waters and changing our consumer habits.
“People seem to get it and are genuinely moved by 2,467km Journey to the Black Sea, and I think people are realising that we need to do something here. Plastic is now a social problem and nature is the only thing we have. It’s completely in our hands to protect it”.
2,467km — Journey to the Black Sea Trailer:
For further information on screenings visit:
For further information on Pure Water For Generations visit:
(Main Photo Credit: VERY FILM)