Not too long ago, I discovered a company called 4Ocean that sells simple, adjustable bracelets made from recycled materials. They boast that the purchase of one of these bracelets equates to the removal of one pound of trash from the ocean. That’s my kind of jewelry, so I began my collection (and some for my daughters) and wear my bracelets with pride, showing off how many pounds of trash I’ve contributed to the cleanup efforts. But, I wanted to do more.
4Ocean began when two young men named Alex and Andrew set out on a surfing trip to Bali, Indonesia, and were shocked and devastated by the amount of plastic in the ocean. Upon investigation, they discovered that fishermen nets were perfect for collecting this abundance of plastic, but fishermen weren’t paid to collect trash. Alex and Andrew set out to find a way to motivate and fund cleanup efforts, and the 4Ocean bracelet was born.
Since it began just two years ago, the company has employed 150 people worldwide, cleaned oceans and coastlines in 27 different countries, set up headquarters in Boca Raton and Bali, and through the purchase of bracelets and their cleanup events, they’ve pulled 629,942 pounds of trash from the oceans and coastlines to date! With their core values of ocean sustainability, recycling awareness, creating global economies and earth preservation, their mission is to put a stop to the shocking eight million TONS of plastic that enter the oceans every year.
In addition to employing boat captains and cleanup crews from Florida to Bali seven days a week, Alex and Andrew organize and host beach cleanup events all over Florida’s coasts and worldwide. I’d started paying attention to their Facebook events and watching for a Saturday event within a 1.5-hour drive. Finally, one was scheduled for May 12 at Alan Shepard Park in Cocoa Beach, just under a mile away from the historic Cocoa Beach Pier (one of my favorite date-night spots), and I was excited to finally have a chance to do more within my reach. This was the first official community beach cleanup effort in Brevard County!
More than 300 volunteers attended the event and combed the beach about a mile in both directions, and, in less than two hours, collected hundreds of pounds of trash from the coastline. I was surprised by our final pile because, at first glance, the beach looked fairly clean. But, when you’re looking for trash instead of seashells, you’ll be surprised what people have left behind after their surfing and sunbathing.
Each event attendee received a complimentary 4Ocean t-shirt and the special edition bracelet for May, which focused on their partner charity, Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC). Each month, 4Ocean chooses a cause to focus their educational and awareness efforts on, picking a limited-edition color for that month’s special bracelet. April was Earth Day Network’s “Canopy Project,” and March was the Coral Restoration Foundation. You can purchase a monthly subscription to automatically receive the bracelet of the month and show off your support of a different earth-loving cause while pulling your pound of trash.
If you have interest in contributing to these ocean and coastline cleanup efforts, there are four ways you can make a difference. First, you can purchase a bracelet from their website (https://4ocean.com/collections/all-products) or a local surf shop like Ron Jon. Second, follow 4Ocean on Facebook or read their blog to educate yourself on the staggering statistics and what needs to be done. Third, you can attend a beach cleanup event in your area (and since there is nowhere in Florida more than 60 miles from a beach, they’re in your area!) – the events are listed on their Facebook Page or https://4ocean.com/pages/clean-ups and are only a two-hour commitment of your time. Fourth and easiest, take a reusable bag with you every time you go to the beach and pick up any trash you see, clean up after yourself, and dispose of your findings appropriately, recycling when possible. Join the movement; pull your pound!