Looking Back on a Year After the South Pole

Posted 02/28/2019 by Chris Powell

It’s been one year since I trekked to the South Pole with Robert Swan and the SPEC Team to raise awareness for renewable energy. I knew when joining the expedition – the first to rely solely on renewable energy -- it would be an adventure of a lifetime. What I didn’t realize was the enormous impact it would have on my life. As I found myself stumbling (sliding?) toward the South Pole, I realized that sometimes you find

your passion, and sometimes it finds you. Since the South Pole, I have become a fanatic in terms of environmental issues, especially plastic use. I’m passionate about reducing the use of single-use plastic.

Last April, I committed to a month without single-use plastic. It wasn’t easy, but it certainly raised my awareness of how plastic infiltrates our daily life. In May, I was thrilled to read the announcement that the Marriott Corporation was phasing out small toiletry bottles and replacing them with refillable containers. Once complete, Marriott will eliminate more than 30 million plastic bottles from landfills annually. At Commvault GO in October, we made the conscious decision to make our customer event as eco-friendly as possible; there were no plastic water bottles, we donated carpeting to local organizations rather than throwing it out, re-planted trees throughout Nashville and eliminated single-use plastic in our catering.

Plastic awareness has gained a great deal of momentum since January 2018 – and that’s a good thing. People are coming to the realization that single-use plastic is a global crisis. National Geographic ran a terrific story highlighting a number of environmentally friendly efforts being taken in many parts of the world.

  • California, Hawaii and New York all have pending plastic straw ban legislation. 
  • In Peru, visitors are no longer allowed to carry single-use plastics into natural and culturally protected areas or national museums.
  • San Diego has joined a growing number of cities banning Styrofoam containers.
  • The Aquarium Conservation Partnership (made up of 22 aquariums in 17 different states) started “No Straw November” in an effort to eliminate single-use plastic.
  • Even the Queen of England banned plastic straws and bottles from the royal estates.

It’s not just corporations and royalty – individuals are making the case against single-use plastic. One of my favorite stories of 2018 was about the Girl Scout who convinced Alaska Airlines to stop using plastic straws and drink stirrers. It’s a great story about how one person can make a real difference.

I am grateful for the time I spent “on the ice” last year. Not only did it give me an amazing adventure, it gave me a platform (see video below) and a purpose. I’m encouraged by the efforts being made to stop the single-use plastic pollution that is killing the planet and I will continue to do what I can to raise awareness of this global crisis.

What can you do?

Chris Powell brings more than two decades of business acumen and management experience to Commvault as Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, and as executive sponsor for the company’s worldwide sustainability initiative.