With 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic waste estimated to be in our oceans, ocean pollution is a major issue in this age. As there is so much plastic at sea, terrifyingly, by 2050, ocean plastic will outweigh all of the ocean’s fish, unless a change is made. Helping to make this change is 4ocean; a for-profit company founded in Boca Raton, Florida, in 2017 by Alex Schulze and Andrew Cooper.

4ocean’s mission is to recover and recycle ocean plastic, advocate for sustainable innovation and inspire people around the world to reduce their consumption of single-use plastic. It was founded after the company’s founders visited a beach in Bali and were appalled at the amount of plastic constantly arriving on the shoreline. According to the brand’s website “Their eyes were immediately opened to the magnitude of the ocean plastic crisis, and they vowed on the spot to try to do something about it”.

The company began with bracelets made from recycled plastic, releasing a new sea animal themed one every month, such as the sting-ray which is the subject of this month’s bracelet. Retailing at $20, for each bracelet bought the company vowels a pound of waste will be pulled from the ocean. Now selling clothing, water bottles, beach gear and even face masks, the company have remained true to their vowel and also pull a pound of ocean waste every time a $20 purchase is made from these items.

Although, the brand have faced backlash due to the ‘for-profit’ nature of their thought to be charity based company, on their website they have stated when first selling their bracelets they “used the money we generated to scale our cleanup operations, make donations to ocean-related charities we believe in, and build an organizational infrastructure to support our growth.” The brand also explained that “there are other benefits to being a corporation, as well. Some nonprofits rely on funding which may be earmarked for specific periods of time or for specific projects. We’re funded exclusively by our own business results, which means we have flexibility in how we deploy our resources and are motivated to conduct business in ways that generate long-term sustainable results. Being a corporation could also allow us to raise investment capital in the future that will help us scale operations even more quickly in ways that a nonprofit model would not allow. We’re dedicated to finding the balance between cleaning the ocean and our company’s financial success.”

Reaching a milestone of 10 million pounds of waste being pulled from the ocean due to their company last year, 4ocean clearly are making a great impact for the restoration of the ocean. However the company is aware that “even though 4ocean has collected millions of pounds of trash from the ocean and built an international infrastructure to fight the ocean plastic crisis, we’re just getting started. The ocean plastic crisis is massive and growing. It will take major systematic changes and the hard work of many great organizations each trying to tackle the crisis in different ways”. The company state that “Our work won’t be done until we can walk along our beaches - in Bali, in Haiti, in Florida and around the world – and see nothing but warm sand and rolling waves.”