Meet Seven Clean Seas, an organization based in Indonesia on a mission to preserve the marine environment by ridding the seas of plastic for good. So far, they’ve cleaned a whopping 242,800 kg of ocean plastic since they started in 2018.
We sat down with Tom Peacock-Nazil, one of the founders of Seven Clean Seas, to hear more of how they started and where they’re heading in 2022.
If you want to start supporting Seven Clean Seas, you can do so here 🐟
In your own words, why do you think the organization started? What was that one moment where you realized, “Hey I want to make this impact?”
Tom: In 2013, when I moved to Singapore, I was fortunate enough to travel the region. I think most places, when you get out of those tourist hotspots, they’re often unfortunately polluted by plastic.
There was one specific moment when I was with my wife on an island in Thailand called Ko Lipe. We’re on this beautiful beach called Sunrise Beach. It was so nice we decided to go back the next day and when we went the next morning, it’s like a horror scene from a plastic horror movie. We knew there had been a storm the night before but you can literally see these patches of garbage on the water and half of them were deposited on the beach. We basically sat there, went to the cafe and contemplated about life and what we’ve done to this world.
We then started with educational outreach and one thing led to another. We ended up growing, looking at it as a macro issue that we wanted to make an impact around. Fast forward to today and that’s what we’ve been doing in the last three years.
What were the main challenges you faced as an organization? Did you struggle with raising funds? Did you face logistical or operational issues that hindered you from making the impact you wanted?
Tom: I funded the cleanups we were hosting myself for a long time. In Singapore we’re very fortunate because we have a lot of people who care about sustainability. I think the actual organization of events went really well and fairly easy. There were only minimal financial requirements at that point for the logistics, etc. There wasn’t too much of a requirement early on.
The organic growth of it took over. That’s when companies started wanting to work with us, offering money for educational talks and beach cleanup activities and slowly but surely, we just built incrementally to where we are today.
One of the early difficulties we faced is that a lot of companies that we worked with still didn’t really understand the issue why it’s important or why they should go on board with us. There’s a whole educational piece that needed to go along with it.
How have you been doing since then? (ex. Any new initiatives started, success with being featured and getting your company’s story out there)
Tom: In the early days, it was a lot about the educative activities. We were active in Singapore, we started projects in Malaysia and also in Indonesia as well. This was all before Covid and when the pandemic hit, it stopped all of our activities overnight. We can no longer do beach cleanups.
This is where we locked our bigger, more ambitious plan to get people to essentially donate to help clean the oceans. Try to turn it into a transaction so everyone in the world can contribute. To do that, in Indonesia where we already have good relationships, we decided to hire some of the individuals who lost their jobs because of Covid-19 and start paying them to do environmental cleanup. We took that opportunity to get donors on board and really, again, it was just organic from that point. We were at the right place, at the right time.
Do you think the support you’re getting from Handprint customers helped with your organization’s mission? How has the contribution that you received helped on the organisational level, community level, and individual level?
Tom: It’s fundamental, essentially. Everything we do, we’re always trying to be ambitious and we’re always trying to grow the project and increase the amount of plastic we can pull out on an annual basis.
You can only really do that when you get regular support from people. We can spend a bit of money here, we can spend a bit money there or hire a few more people. The nature of how Handprint works is just great for that. As partners, I see it as we grow, Handprint grows as well.
What’s next for Seven Clean Seas? Do you have any upcoming projects or initiatives for 2022?
Tom: 2022 is our most exciting year yet by a long way. We’re launching a river cleanup technology in a river in Thailand. Potentially in Vietnam as well. It’s a high-volume, low-cost river cleanup technology for medium to large rivers. If you look at the scientific studies, they say that most of the plastic that goes to the oceans actually originate from the rivers. That’s kind of the mode of transport so if we want to clean the oceans, the best place to start is on the rivers.
On top of that, we’re also building more projects internationally, not just in Indonesia. We’ve got quite a bit of mandate now to go and do that. For us, it’s just about finding out where we are today at the end of 2021 and really preparing for 2022. It’s gonna be 100x bigger than what we’ve ever done before.