Travel Journey 15 | Palmerston

Recycling plastic waste at Palmerston


Imagine; you have a great passion for love, an excessive desire to have children and your own island, what do you do then? Sir William Marsters, an adventurous sailor from England, knew how to handle this. In 1863 he had an exceptionally good idea, and decided to live with his three wives in Palmerston. An island so far away from everything that it takes you weeks to get there. We were very surprised to hear and see how much plastic washes up here.

Once settled in Palmerston, the adventure really started for William. He and his three wives had to develop a way of life to build a life in the middle of the Pacific, closed off from the rest of the world. The island was divided into 3 parts, with each woman being given her own piece. Soon the first junior Marsters were born with the ultimate result that William conceived 21 children with his 3 wives.


Today, Palmerston is still inhabited by the Marsters family, and only Marsters or people who are married to Marsters are allowed to live on the island. The island is also self-sufficient and they live from their own clean generated energy and collected rainwater. At the time we were there, 32 Marsters and 11 Marsters children lived on the island.

Upon arrival, Arthur, a friendly smiling Marsters, told us that a lot of plastic washes up on the island and that they regularly organize clean-ups. We decided to visit the school and get in touch with the teacher. Soon we met a very enthusiastic Australian teacher, who told us that there are 9 children in the whole school, aged 6 to 17 years. She also told us how the children receive education to protect the island and the animals. Various scientists visit each year for research, where the children can help. The children also help during the beach clean-ups, but they do not recycle the plastic. For us a great opportunity to inspire the children how you can recycle plastic with different simple machines. We agreed to give a presentation and a workshop on Thursday morning.


When the alarm clock goes early, I feel wetness in my bed. For a very long time it had not rained as hard as this Thursday morning. Because the roof in the cockpit had sustained a 2-meter crack during a tack, it was war aboard on Thursday morning. There was almost more water in the boat than outside. This was a tropical rain shower with a lot of rain. Because the school activity was largely planned outside, there was no chance at all to go to the village with all our things and to recycle plastic. Let alone use our solar oven. We decided to postpone the appointment to Friday, hoping that the weather would improve. This was our last chance, because the trip to Niue was already planned for Saturday.

Fortunately the weather was beautiful on Friday and the whole school was waiting for us when we arrived, armed with a wheelbarrow full of stuff and two recycling machines. As a surprise, not only the school was there, but also the entire community including the priest and the head of the island. What an honor to tackle the plastic problem together with the entire population.


After our presentation and discussions about self-sufficient life and the plastic problem, we started recycling plastic together. The children help us with the entire process, so that the children experience with wonder what it is like to recycle. The children first get to work with the shredder to shred the plastic. The press is then carefully filled with the plastic and placed in the solar oven. The first question I hear from one of the children is whether the melting process smells like pork chop sticks. I explain to him that it smells more like barbecue chicken and the process is full of wonder. The result? A beautiful unique flowerpot with the local Palmerston plastic. A collector’s item, because we were only able to make 3 of the Palmerston plastic.

Do you know a unique building, company or environment where this flowerpot can be placed to tell the plastic waste story? Or can you ensure that this flowerpot can be placed in a special place in the world? Let us know. PM or mail us to In this way we create more impact together and we reduce the use of plastic.