Message in a (Plastic) Bottle

plastic bottle found by local fisherman in Louisiana, from Jenna Jambeck
A local fisherman in Louisiana found and returned one of the plastic pollution tracking devices Jenna Jambeck had launched in St. Louis, Missouri, over a month earlier.

Jenna Jambeck was enjoying family time on Memorial Day when she received a surprising message.

It was a call from a fisherman who had found something that he thought belonged to her: a plastic bottle. She had rigged it with a tracking device and dropped it into the Mississippi River in St. Louis to learn how trash travels in our waterways. On the bottle was a note with Jambeck’s contact info and a promise of a reward for its safe return if found.

“I get this message saying it’s in west Baton Rouge. I didn’t release any bottles in Baton Rouge,” says Jambeck, Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor in Environmental Engineering and associate director of the university’s New Materials Institute. The institute focuses on sustainable product designs and rethinking how we manage our waste. “I’m thinking to myself, This must be a joke.”

So she asked him to send her a photo of the bottle. It turns out the bottle, referred to as Rogue One by the Star Wars-loving Jambeck, was one dropped upriver 881 miles away near St. Louis.