4ocean's main headquarters is located in Boca Raton, FL and is where our first community beach cleanup was held. It's also where our daily cleanup crew operations started before expanding to multiple areas in South Florida, then to Indonesia and the Caribbean soon after. To celebrate our two-year anniversary, we decided to host a cleanup right where it all began - at Spanish River Park in Boca Raton, FL. And as far as attendance goes, it was our biggest ever!!!
What Have We Accomplished in Two Years?
We started out with a vision. We sold our first bracelet and removed our first pound of trash in January 2017. Since then, we have cultivated that vision into our mission: 4ocean is a global movement actively removing trash from the ocean and coastlines while inspiring individuals to work together for cleaner oceans, one pound at a time. In just two short years, thanks to all of your support and encouragement, we have been able to:
Participant Attendance Breaks Previous Record
Before our two-year celebration, our largest participation was 627 people who showed up to make a difference at our Revere Beach International Coastal Cleanup back in September. This cleanup blew that number out of the park! In total, 1,020 passionate and dedicated participants came out to our Two-Year Anniversary Cleanup at Spanish River Park. Many people traveled from different states - and even different countries - to take part in our largest community beach cleanup to date. How cool is that?
Sometimes You Have to Look Beyond the Surface…
At first glance, the white, sandy beach looked pretty spotless. Upon further investigation, the beach was actually littered with microplastics - extremely small pieces of broken-down, indistinguishable, plastic. Due to the sun, waves, and foot traffic, most of the microplastics found were brittle and broken.
There are seven types of plastic and each type melts at a different temperature. If a microplastic is indistinguishable, there is no way to tell what type of plastic it is and therefore it cannot be recycled. At our cleanup, many participants found that after digging through the sand they were able to remove many small pieces of plastic that had been buried over time - including cigarette butts which are considered to be plastic.
So What Did We Find?
Beyond the small microplastics, the number of single-use plastic items we found was staggering. Thanks to our Citizen Scientists, who helped us sort and count all of the single-use plastic items that were removed from the beach, we collected the following data:
This cleanup would not have been successful without everyone’s help and dedication. In total, we collected 720 pounds of marine debris that were littering the beach in Boca Raton. Of that number, 178 pounds ended up being items we were able to recycle.
Why Does It Matter?
It may seem like a “drop in the ocean” but our community beach cleanups go beyond just a few hours of picking up trash off a beach. These cleanups are a way for the whole community to join together and become educated on the growing problem of ocean pollution, most specifically plastic pollution.
Did you know that the first plastic was invented by accident in 1907? And every piece of plastic that has ever been created is still around today unless it's been incinerated. Unfortunately, since plastic does NOT biodegrade like other materials, if it has found it's way to the ocean, it will remain there forever until it is removed. As it continues to break apart into smaller and smaller microplastics, it becomes a more serious threat to marine life who can easily mistake it for food.
How Can You Continue to Help?
There are a number of ways you can help even after the cleanup is over and done with. One of these is by reducing your plastic-footprint and eliminating single-use plastic from your daily routine. We know that the switch to “100% plastic-free” is not an overnight process, but lucky for you, we are here to help and give you a couple of examples on how you can get started today.
At 4ocean, we are on a mission to clean up the ocean and capture these plastics at their source before they ever have a chance to make it into the open ocean to become microplastics. We are cleaning the ocean and coastlines 7-days-a-week and the launch of our Ocean Plastic Recovery campaign, to collect plastic at high-impact areas in the Carribean and Bali, is just the first step. You, too, can get involved by purchasing a 4ocean bracelet which pulls a pound of trash from the ocean and coastlines and joining us on our next 4ocean Cleanup near you.
Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay up to date on everything 4ocean. Also, come join the conversation on our new Discover 4ocean Facebook Group, we look forward to seeing you there.
We spent the weekend cleaning areas in both the Middle and Upper Florida Keys, areas that were damaged and heavily impacted by the accumulation of marine debris during Hurricane Irma. You won't believe what our before and after pictures look like!
It turns out that some iconic Spring Break hotspots are extremely important, ecologically valuable areas to the species that call them home. Plastic pollution left behind by Spring Break revelers can cause tremendous harm to endangered species and critical habitats, so have fun but always clean up afterward.
In our Meet the Team Blog Series, we will take a look at some of the 4ocean employees cleaning up the ocean and coastlines around the world. We all know the problem of ocean plastic pollution is a complicated one, but we have people like Captain Louie out there every day tackling the problem head-on!