MIAMI (CBSMiami) – South Floridians are blessed to live near the ocean and enjoy beautiful beaches and two local men are working to keep it that way, not only here but across the globe.
Andrew Cooper grew up on a boat and Alex Schulze grew up on an island. It is no surprise that both feel called to the ocean.
“We grew up on the ocean. We’re both licensed captains, surfers, fisherman,” said Schulze. “We are in this for the long haul. What we want to accomplish is a clean ocean for ourselves, our families, for our future.”
Cooper and Schulze met as college students at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, where both studied business and graduated in 2014. The following year, the two friends took a surfing trip to Bali, in search of big waves, but found the beaches buried in garbage.
“When we graduated after college and we literally saw so much trash on the beach it was knee high,” said Cooper.
Cooper said a lifeguard in Bali told them they do clean up the trash but it washes back up on the shore.
The discovery saddened them both but it was also an inspiration for their multimillion-dollar business to help clean the world’s oceans, called 4Ocean.
“Even if we have a plastic magnet and we remove all the trash out of the ocean, the problem still exists tomorrow. So part of our mission, attacking from all angles. Stopping at the source, educating people, changing behavior on land,” said Cooper. “Cleaning it up is just what we do from the sale of our products.”
The products include bracelets made out of recycled materials. Each bracelet sold pledges to remove one pound of plastic from the ocean.
In less than 2 years, 4Ocean has removed more than 4.5 million pounds of trash from the ocean and coastlines in 27 countries and partnered with more than 15 charities. The company employs more than 150 people worldwide.
“The most important thing to understand is that the trash we’re collecting was not brought into the ocean from somebody dumping it off their boat,” said Cooper. “It enters from land-based sources and over 90% of this trash started on land and then when it rains or the winds pushes it to the roads, gutters, rivers, it ends up in the ocean.”
4Ocean has expanded from West Palm to Miami. There is at least one captain cleaning 7 days a week. The members of the 4Ocean team attends boating events to spread awareness on the importance of keeping the ocean clean.
It is a calling that Schulze and Cooper find truly fulfilling.
“We’re dirty garbage men, but the happiest garbage men in the world,” said Schulze.
Click here for more information about 4Ocean.