On Sunday, 7/1/2018, NBC’s Today host, Willie Geist, talked with Andrew Cooper and Alex Schulze, a pair of millennials behind the company 4Ocean. The two men created a business model to help support their effort of ridding the ocean of plastic. In this week’s Sunday Spotlight, NBC’s Kerry Sanders goes underwater with them to see their cleanup firsthand.
You probably think when you roll your garbage container to the curb that it is all going to a landfill, recycled, or crushed and burned. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. A lot of our trash is going straight into the ocean, destroying ocean life and our waters. Most of it is plastic.
Plastic is made with toxic chemicals that can end up on our plates. Animals eat the plastic and we eat them. That’s very bad. We can get very sick. Plastic in an animal’s gut can prevent food digestion and can lead to a very slow and painful death. In the blog post “How Much Trash Is In Our Ocean” on 4ocean.com, it says, “Every hour, approximately 1.6 million tons of waste enters our ocean. Yearly, a colossal 14 billion tons of trash ends up in our beautiful oceans. Of this waste, much of it is plastic.” Our lakes, rivers and oceans are dirty and practically a huge trash can.
Their story began when the two men took a trip to Bali Indonesia that would inevitably change their lives and the fate of the ocean. Devastated by the amount of plastic in the ocean, they set out to find out why no one was doing anything about it. One afternoon they came across an old fishing village where fishermen were literally pushing their boat through piles of plastic that had washed up on shore. The two surfers realized that the proliferation of plastic threatened both the ocean environment and the fishermen’s livelihood. Could the fishermen use their nets, they wondered, to pull the plastic from the ocean? This idea stuck with the 2 surfers and they knew it was time to hit the drawing board. After realizing that the demand for seafood was driving the fishermen to focus on fish instead of plastic, they knew they had to create something that could fund the desired cleanup efforts. This is how the 4Ocean Bracelet was born.
The organization sells bracelets to help with funding their causes. Made from recycled materials, every bracelet purchased funds the removal of 1 pound of trash from the ocean and coastlines. In less than 2 years, 4Ocean has removed 816,786 pounds of trash from the ocean and coastlines.
4Ocean’s website states: We have full-time captains and crews that are cleaning the ocean and coastlines 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We utilize the latest technology to prevent, intercept, and remove trash from the ocean and coastlines. We strive to educate individuals, corporations, and governments on the impact that plastic has on the ocean. We host cleanups all over the world, both above and below the water, to raise awareness and change behavior in local communities. At present, they have cleaned up the coastlines and oceans in 27 countries.
It seems private citizens are on board to clean-up our oceans. Timothy Lencsak is inspired by an environmental group — Living Lands and Waters — that has been traveling up and down the Mississippi River for years, cleaning trash out of the water.
Lencsak, a 27-year-old commercial diver from New Jersey, wants to do something similar here, on Mississippi beaches and in the Mississippi Sound.
Lencsak said he has made 1,200 dives around the United States and encountered underwater debris every time. He has seen trash piles on the bottom the Gulf of Mexico with metal, tires, oil barrels. and car parts. He wants a safer underwater landscape and cleaner beaches around the world.
And he wants to begin in Mississippi.
An effort to have plastic straws eliminated from restaurants has already been adopted by several states. This movement came about after video showing plastic straws becoming a hazard for turtles went viral.
Ref. NBC News, ABC News, 4ocean.com
Photo courtesy of ABC