It all started with a bad holiday.
Andrew Cooper and Alex Schulze just wanted to celebrate the end of college taking a trip to Bali, in 2015, aiming to get some of the best waves in the world. But what they found lead them further their expectations.
We see every day images of seashores wasted by tons of plastic garbage, pictures showing us where our trash goes after we’ve emptied the bin. Andrew and Alex felt it under their bare foot, walking on a junkyard, and watching Indonesian fishermen struggling with boats
stranded in plastic, carrying empty nets. All that garbage threatened both the life in and out of the sea.
Every year Indonesia produces 3.2 tons of plastic, spilling over the sea 1.2 tons of garbage. Last November a whale died on the beach of Wakatobi, poisoned by 13 pounds of trash found inside its corpse.
The idea of Cooper and Schulze, founders of 4ocean association, was clear as simple: if fishermen couldn’t get fishes, maybe they can try with plastic.
In a bunch of years the two surfers set up a little fleet, involving 150 employees from all over the world and turning war on pollution into a real business. Cleaning the sea one pound at a time, 4ocean workers utilize the plastic caught in their nets to create their line of exclusive bracelets, including limited editions, available in their shop online.
“We came up with the idea in Bali - says Schulze in a recent interview for surfer.com - came back to Florida and came up with the business model where Andrew and I could be hands-on and really prove the concept. We started cleaning the beaches in Florida ourselves, then, when we really got the business rolling, we hired our first captain. Then we hired our second, our third and we built out our entire team. We went back to Bali and started our entire operation and we just recently opened up in Haiti”.
Also, for Andrew Cooper, “we live in a world of consumerism, and every purchase we make is a vote and it’s the big brands that are counting the ballots. If we can teach people to use their dollar to vote for a company that’s doing good they will listen and these big brands will start using ocean plastic in their products”.
Taking something that is believed to have no value, and transforming it in something invaluable. Like a piece of jewelry, or like the idea of saving our world.