Ever tried to explain international shipping to the uninitiated? Though most of what we eat, use, wear, work with, and play with has traveled inside an ocean container at some point, the subject usually elicits a blank stare.
A consortium of container shipping lines hopes to change that by educating consumers, business leaders, and journalists around the world about the importance of container shipping in their daily lives. In early January, 24 of the world's largest ocean carriers launched the Container Shipping Information Service (CSIS), a London-based initiative that eventually will include a full-scale public relations campaign.
CSIS has put together a colorful Web site (www.shipsandboxes.com) that's a goldmine of infor mation. For those who need to research industry statistics, business issues, and history, the site offers a wealth of data in one con venient spot. The "Did you know?" section under "Facts & Figures" is espe cially informative. (Sample: In an average year, a con tainer ship travels the equivalent of three-quar ters of the distance to the moon.) Also included is a "Jargon buster," which offers definitions of com mon maritime words and phrases.
The "News" channel (still lightly populated in its startup phase) includes not only "hard" news about important trade issues but also lighter items with titles like "New hotel is a crate place to stay" and "The ship whisperers." Free photo downloads of ships, containers, and terminals are ideal for your kids' school reports and for jazzing up your desktop.