My First Cleanup With the 4ocean Crew

Join Tony, our Director of Cleanup Operations, as he reflects on his very first cleanup with our captains and crews

“Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know!”

My conservation journey started around 2012 when I fell back in love with scuba diving. I remember immediately seeing something I had never seen before. Normally when this happens, you can’t wait to get back to the surface so you can write about it in your dive log—but this time was different.

I’m not saying there wasn’t trash in the water when I was first scuba certified back in 2000, but I know for sure it wasn’t a “thing.” I never noticed it and I had a few hundred dives logged by 2001.

Fast forward 10+ years and it became ALL I noticed while diving. Dive after dive, more and more trash. As I got more interested in the ocean and the issue of plastic pollution, I found myself more committed to the cause. I joined local cleanups and even won an award for most trash collected at a cleanup event, which was fittingly made from recovered trash: 

I eventually found myself working as a scuba instructor and was intent on transforming divers into ocean warriors—one at a time, if that’s what it took! As my career developed in the scuba industry, I leveraged it to host my own pier, shoreline, and underwater cleanups, some of which had well over 100 participants!

When I applied to 4ocean as the Fleet Operations Manager, I thought I was pretty knowledgeable about cleanups and the hard work that goes into them thanks to all the events I’d hosted for the scuba industry.

And then I joined one of our cleanup teams for a day out on the water…

Yup. That’s me, completely stuck in the mud and the muck trying to keep up with my team. Countless cleanups under my belt with thousands of pounds of debris removed and here I was—pulling my leg out of the water with no boot on. It was still three feet deep in the mud! 

As I fished for the boot with my foot, finally getting it back on and out of the water, I had to acknowledge the truth: Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know.

Now, I had already attended and hosted many cleanups up to this point. But that’s just it. It was for one day. 

Sitting there in my wet pants and my mucky boots, I started to realize what it means to do this every day. 

Anyone can hustle and do a cleanup here or there, but every single day? That takes someone special. 

I’ve never looked at our cleanup crews the same after this experience.

Show our crews some love and invite a friend or family member to join the clean ocean movement by giving them our Signature Beaded Bracelet—a must have for anyone who loves the ocean.

While you do that, I’ll be heading to Guatemala to join our crews on their next barge run where we’ll load over 20,000 pounds of trash collected from the coast by our crews in El Quetzalito and San Francisco del Mar for transport to our facility in Puerto Barrios. 

Stay tuned for the (humbling) update!

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