Ellen MacArthur Foundation
In 2005, Dame Ellen MacArthur, an English yachtswoman, set a world record for the fastest solo nonstop voyage around the world on her first attempt. Her achievement made her the youngest woman ever to do so.
MacArthur began sailing with her aunt at age four and spent her spare time reading sailing books. Four years later, she started saving her school dinner money to buy her first boat. In 1995, she won the Young Sailor of the Year Award after sailing solo around Great Britain. The following year, she finished third in her first transatlantic race, sailing from Quebec, Canada to Saint-Malo, France. In 2003, she founded the Ellen MacArthur Trust to introduce young cancer patients to the joys of sailing.
In November 2004, seeking to challenge the record for a nonstop solo voyage around the world, MacArthur set out from Cornwall in her 75-foot yacht. The standing record, seemingly unassailable, had been set only nine months earlier by French sailor Francis Joyon. MacArthur completed the 27,348-mile journey through the world’s most dangerous seas in 71 days, breaking Joyon’s record by 1 day.
Alone with the might of the sea and gale force winds bearing down on her yacht, she was struck by something quite fundamental. “When you set off around the world, you take everything with you that you need for your survival. You know you only have so much food, you only have so much diesel, and you become incredibly connected to those resources you use,” she told the BBC. “As you watch those resources go down, you realise just what ‘finite’ means... In the Southern Ocean, you are 2500 miles away from the nearest town and you can’t stop and collect more. Suddenly I realised our global economy is no different. It’s powered by resources that are ultimately finite.”
On MacArthur’s return, she and colleagues spent three years of painstaking research to understand what it might look like if the global economy had to operate in a finite way: a no waste world. In 2010, MacArthur launched the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which promoted efforts aimed at reinventing traditional modes of economic production and consumption.
As MacArthur has done, imagine if the world was our yacht, and we had to design everything we used on it to be repaired, reused, re-manufactured or ultimately recycled, where waste was not an option. Imagine if your business had to start thinking that way—what changes would you need to start making?
Going Round, Narelle Hooper and Rodin Genoff