While on a surfing trip in Bali, Indonesia, Florida natives Alex Shulze and Andrew Cooper found themselves wading through hordes of floating trash, and witnessed fishermen struggling to get their boats in the water through all the accumulated plastic. The twenty-somethings wondered if the fishermen could use their nets to clean up the plastic they encounter, and were driven to research different ways the ocean could be cleansed of its plastic problem.
National Geographic has estimated that 18 billion pounds of plastic enters the world’s oceans every day from coastal regions. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), America is the number one producer of trash in the world, accumulating for over 30% of the world’s trash problem. Reports from the Sea Turtle Conservancy tell us that over a million marine animals annually suffer excruciating deaths from plastic debris. The chain effect trickles down to the livelihoods of those whose job is to fish for said marine life in areas where this is happening.
Shortly into the duo’s quest for answers, 4ocean was born. Since 2017, they have employed over 300 people worldwide in removing over six million pounds of trash that is turned into their trademark 4ocean bracelets. Every $20 bracelet transaction removes one pound of trash from the ocean and coastlines. Each month, 4ocean chooses a different ocean being to create limited-edition collections benefitting their aligned causes.
Currently, all cleanup missions and advocacy efforts are founded through product purchases. Championing cleanup efforts in Bali, Haiti and in their home base of Florida, the duo’s for-profit endeavor not only creates jobs, but also educates on the problem and inspires new economy surrounding trash removal by giving the recycled plastic a monetary value. Additionally, they frequently host ocean cleanups and local community engagement events. Read about their two year anniversary cleanup, attended by over 650 people.
Connect the Dots: 4Ocean is seeking connections in reselling the collected materials and working with governments and industries for contracted waterway cleanup services.
Volunteer: Learn about volunteer opportunities such as ocean clean-ups. Sign-up to volunteer for 4Ocean here.
Jobs: Browse available opportunities to work for 4Ocean.
For the above options and more, visit 4Ocean’s page on the CoCre Collective. (link)