Thursday, September 13, 2018

Product Review: 4Ocean Bracelets

Maybe you saw them on the Today Show back in July, or perhaps the adds have popped up on your cell phone while browsing Facebook or playing games - but the question came up, "Who are these 4Ocean guys?"

So I decided to find out.

4Ocean is a business. They are not, nor do they claim to be, a not for profit entity.

The business model is simple: turn marine debris into a commodity.

The ultimate goals include creating jobs around the world and working to alter the mentality of our view on trash. Some countries lack the fundamental infrastructure to recycle plastics and other goods, so they see trash as just, well, there. It is a part of life like weeds on your lawn. Deal with it or don't.

Jobs are created as crews are hired, and in some countries like Haiti people are garnering a better wage fishing for trash than actual fish. This helps attack both the problems of irresponsible overfishing and addressing trash in the marine ecosystem. Funding for the equipment, employees, etc. comes from the sale of small bracelets and other 4Ocean-branded items.

In addition, each month 4Ocean has a new partner in support of a specific ocean-related cause. For instance, back in June it was sea turtle research. Now I happen to have personal connections to the FAU lab that worked with the 4Ocean team and they had only great things to say about the company when I asked.

The bracelets themselves are made of recycled glass and polyester, and mine hold up just fine no matter what I'm doing, from washing the car to riding a roller coaster. When properly adjusted, the bracelet stays put.
My mom even sent me a photo!
My mom was curious at this simple bauble that had me so excited, so I shared the story of 4Ocean with her. The response? She wanted one for her birthday! 4Ocean's website made it easy to send one as a gift, and she received it in about a week.

She was happy with the commitment by 4Ocean to pull a pound of trash from the ocean in exchange for the support.
Cool stuff. It allows people who don't live anywhere near the ocean to make a difference in waters across the globe.

This dynamic new business plan did more than inspire me - it made me want to work there! So, I applied for a job since the headquarters is here in south Florida. I was thrilled to get a call back and even the chance to interview with the company in person. While I was not their choice for hire, I learned so much more about the organization and its people.

For instance, every single person - whether they wore jeans or polos or dresses - every one who walked in or out of the front door acknowledged me while I sat in the lobby waiting. Some said hello, others waved, but all of them smiled. Happy people do not bother to say hi. They don't ask how a stranger is doing when they have no reason to meet or speak with them. The staff were all just nice. This is in Boca Raton people! (that just doesn't happen)

Now that you know the bracelets and people behind them are following through on the promise to work towards cleaner oceans, don't forget this weekend is the International Coastal Cleanup! A time when organizations and volunteers all over the world get out to tackle the trash first hand.

4Ocean is working in Boston for the big weekend, but also hosts cleanups worldwide throughout the year.

Here in Palm Beach County, the non-profit Keep Palm Beach County Beautiful coordinates with other local agencies for a massive event. This year, 34 different organizations are partnering up, and we are joining the Sea 2 Shore Alliance this weekend.

Once again we will use the Clean Swell app to help track the data (i.e. trash) collected too. This data is extremely important in helping learn more about our trash and better address the problem based on a specific region's needs.

Last year, Jacen and I had a great experience in Delray Beach, and we are ready for a great weekend in Boynton Beach too. I wonder what weird junk we might find?

Just keep swimming, and if this weekend is no good check for local cleanups in your area. They are probably happening at least once a month!


Monday, September 3, 2018

Trash Talk turned Trash Walk - 1 year later

Behold! The most money I have made while picking up trash over the past year!

I suppose it's nothing to really brag about, but a year ago Hurricane Irma struck my area pretty hard. In my neighborhood flooding was severe, but since we are near lakes the water level receded fairly quickly. The amount of debris and trash left everywhere appalled me, and while I was walking my dogs, I started picking up trash when I picked up doggy doo.

Now you are all caught up!

Several months after my community service / dog walking began regularly, I heard about plogging - the Swedish trend of picking up trash while jogging.

Now, I HATE running. It is quite literally my second least favorite thing in the world.

But... I ain't gettin' any younger, and my smaller dog loves to run. The daily haul from my neighborhood - save for the week after Independence Day - has shrunk to 1-2 lbs of trash each day. That includes expanding the walk to every street in my little area.

So in July I started … running. Well, jogging/walking/crawling - whatever gets me home eventually. The two-mile circuit goes around several neighborhoods in a giant loop that is heavily trafficked and trashy as a result. 

The first month, Thor and I pulled about 5 lbs of trash 3 - 4 times each week (cuz there is not way I am running every single day). Now we get closer to 3 lbs each circuit, but my pace is faster and I've lost nearly 10 lbs as a bonus.

My incentives?
- Every time I stop for trash, I get a 10-second walking rest. I have never wanted to find trash so badly.
- Picking up trash makes me feel as though the run serves a purpose. For those who hate running, and see moving fast without being chased by a bear as a complete waste of energy, having a bag full of debris gives me motivation to go out and do it again.
- It is really great for my dog's health too. We don't have a yard, and this mutt loves to run. Sometimes he pulls me (the leash is attached around my waist, not my wrist) and sometimes I get him moving, but as a running partner it's a good fit.

I have received exactly three acknowledgements from strangers in the past year. Two people in the neighborhood have said "thank you" and just last week an elderly gentleman on my two-mile run beamed at me and said "Good for you! Way to go!" and I've decided to take it as a compliment.

But the biggest compliment came from my husband. He bought me a new pair of running shoes and a motivational magnet for the fridge. Thanks, babe!