In the last four decades I have undertaken many outdoor tours and for a few years I have mostly been accompanied by my hiking friend Andreas. Through these adventures I realized that even if you have passed the age of 50, the desire for untamed nature does not diminish. Andreas and I came up with the idea of sharing these feelings with other people and writing a book about our love of adventure. Wilder wird's nicht is the name of the book and it was so much fun that we immediately started looking for a follow-up project.
Even with Wilder wird's nicht, the ecological approach had been very important to us. We had made it our goal not to travel to nature by plane anymore and to only choose destinations that could be reached by train or car. Now we wanted to raise the bar a little higher and start the trip right from our front door, on a bicycle. To focus on the environmental aspect of the trip, we wanted to include a donation and trash collection campaign as a central part of the project
From these common guidelines I then developed, over the course of nine months, the Big Biking Cleanup.
An itinerary had to be determined, the manufacturer of the bikes discovered, and the most sustainable outdoor equipment companies approached. In addition, a web developer (Torsten from TIGER Design) had to create a website for us and, most importantly, we needed a partner who could demonstrate a working marine debris collection concept and had the desire and interest to partner with us.
By working with the German based association One Earth - One Ocean e.V. (OEOO) we found the perfect partner for our project. For ten years, OEOO has been developing a concept on how to rid waters worldwide of plastic waste, oil and chemicals.
It makes me proud and happy that we could win OEOO and all the other great partners.
I appreciate all the people who not only visit the website, but also check out the 95-part video diary on YouTube:
A journey like this is always a departure into the unknown. None of us had ever undertaken such a demanding, long and challenging journey. Not only did we have to report on our experiences every day, collect donations and trash, charge batteries, find campsites, shoot a film and drive about 80 - 100 km, but we also wanted to meet people and enjoy the wild nature. With so many tasks, something can fall by the wayside. The fact that it was our friendship would never have occurred to us in our wildest dreams beforehand. Sometimes you pay a high price for a great adventure, because no matter what you plan beforehand, everything always turns out differently than you think.
But why it still became one of my greatest and most impressive experiences, you can learn on the website and on YouTube.
For about 35 years I have been going out into nature and drawing strength and recreation for my life from my encounters with it. Now it's time to give something back!
I consider the garbage collection campaign a symbolic act of reparation. There is a great need for action, especially among 40 - 50 year olds, because we, the boomers, have experienced and lived prosperity and consumption like no one before us. It gives me great pleasure to see that a very committed generation of environmental activists is growing up, and that the signs are pointing to action. The impending climate catastrophe calls on each of us to change something. No one who cares about our planet and its oceans can and should shirk it.
Even a middle-aged man like me is asked to face his responsibility towards this planet and to make a difference. If young and old act together, we can do it!
True to the motto:
There is nothing good unless you do it.
Or, for those who prefer it international:
Don't talk the talk - walk the walk.
The BBC campaign is intended to draw attention to the problem of plastic waste on the planet, to focus on the idea of marine waste disposal and to show that the organization One Earth - One Ocean e.V. has already been in existence for ten years, in which people are actively committed to cleaning up our oceans.
For the tour I deliberately chose an electrified cargo bike from German production, because I want to prove what such a bike can withstand. At the same time, I see a Cargobike as the logical and practical answer for an environmental change of transport policy in cities and rural areas. Sell your second car and get a cargo bike as a green replacement.
In addition, I make the "greener choice" in equipment wherever possible and show what is also in this area, now possible. Therefore, I am particularly proud and happy about my partners who support me on this tour.
I use our project to collect donations for the great environmental organization One Earth - One Ocean e.V.
On April 14, 2022, at 2 p.m., we started the project. The starting point was the Globetrotter headquarters at Wiesendamm 1 in Hamburg from there it went on to the port and from there along the Elbe, always towards the North Sea ...
When I returned to Hamburg on June 18th, it was 95 days and a little more than 7200 km around the North Sea and Baltic Sea that I cycled. Except for three days, I only slept in tents, on campsites, to have the opportunity to charge the battery overnight, but often also wildly in nature.
Most of the trash was collected along the streets, but also many beach cleanups showed me that we still have a huge task ahead of us if we want to get the plastic problem under control. In the end, 129 kg of rubbish came together. A lot of plastic but sometimes also paper, glass or metal waste. Wherever possible, rubbish was disposed of in recycling containers.
On my trip I got to know nine countries and their people a little better: Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
The original route was also supposed to go through Russia and the Kaliningrad exclave, but this part had to be cut out due to Putin's war of aggression against Ukraine.
As always on such a trip, the encounters with the people remain in my best memories. Due to the many breakdowns on my rear wheel, which sometimes seemed bewitched, I was particularly dependent on the willingness of strangers to help and was never disappointed. On the contrary, when I look at this wonderful cordiality that has driven me over the past three months, I can only continue to believe that a lot is possible.
You can follow the entire tour on Instagram. Now there is a YouTube video diary which also shows what else happened.
In addition, I continue to use these channels for the fundraiser. So far, almost 8000 euros have been received and my goal is to get the SeeHamster fully financed. So please continue to share the story of the Big Biking Cleanup with your friends - thank you! 💚♻️🌊☮️🏕🌻🚵🏻♂️
The Big Biking Cleanup Tour is intended to raise funds for the non-profit organization ONE EARTH - ONE OCEAN e.V., https://oneearth-oneocean.com/.
One Earth - One Ocean e.V. operates a maritime garbage disposal and I have set myself the goal of collecting enough money for a new boat.
This is the sea hamster, which rids the rivers of Egypt, Cambodia and Indonesia of plastic waste. I find it particularly important that the operation of such a boat creates jobs locally, environmental protection thus has a social component and becomes a well-rounded thing.
For that, I happily kicked my butt sore over 7200 km several times.
Here you can follow the tour and also already see where I'll be on the road the next day ... at least if everything works out as expected. Maybe we will see each other there and collect together the plastic waste on the beaches.
A somewhat different beach party, but sustainable in the most positive sense 😉!