6. Ocean Mimic - Emma

Bali, Indonesia

Pristine Ocean

You’re listening to the pristine ocean Podcast. I am your host Peter Hall. The podcast aims to inform, inspire, and even entertain you about the serious business of ocean plastics. Each week, you will hear our guests from around the world talking about best practices, innovative ideas, and financial models for fighting the scourge of plastic litter in the marine environment. In the last few weeks, we’ve been talking to a number of people who spend their energy and organizational talents in creating beach cleanups. The question that naturally comes up is how do even hundreds of kilograms of plastic which is picked up right against the millions of tons that are going into the oceans every year. It’s literally a drop of retrieved plastic in an ocean plastic. Today, we’re talking to Ammar from the organization, ocean mimic, which started in Bali and has plans to expand globally. Ocean mimic organizes beach clean-ups as a community activity. For me

Emma from Ocean Mimic

Ocean Mimic is all about community and to try and inspire people to sort of join this community of people doing these beach clean-ups or educate learning from each other. It’s like very interactive community on our socials and things and trying to inspire everyone to get involved and that they have a part to play.

Pristine Ocean

Ocean mimic wants everybody to be involved. They have a start-up that sells designer swimwear, that is made from textile that has been derived from ocean plastic. I was interested about the idea behind the swimwear operation.

Emma from Ocean Mimic

This is one way I’ve chosen to save our oceans through entrepreneurship and people can support by buying silver if they’d like to. But the main message is just to get involved into the community.

Pristine Ocean

Hi, Emma, thanks for taking time to talk to us today. Let’s get started with your personal story. What’s your background? Why did you get interested in ocean plastic?

Emma from Ocean Mimic

Yes, I was working in the dive industry. So I was a scuba diving instructor working on a teeny Island in Malaysia called Rolla Island. And while I was there, and when I first got there, it was dry season and the beaches were gorgeous, lovely white sand, no trash to be seen. And what was so shocking for me while I was there was once we came into monsoon season in October, November time, I islands of rubbish would wash up onto these beautiful, immaculate beaches, you would go for a scuba dive and you descend seeing a beautiful beach and you’d come back up and they were covered in plastic, and all sorts of rubbish and we’d have to get up and clean it all away. And then maybe the next day, the same thing would happen. And for me, this was really devastating. You hear about the problem, but to see it like that first hand really brings it home and being connected to the ocean and working in the ocean every day really inspired me and my friend Chelsea who I started I should mimic with to do something about it. And that’s where we came up with the idea of ocean mimic bringing the swimwear side together with our main passion of raising awareness about this plastic pollution.

Pristine Ocean

So you got the inspiration after seeing the effect of plastic on this pristine dive Island. And then you move to Bali. And that’s when you actually started actively organizing beach clean-ups. Tell us about the first time that you organize the beach clean-up. Yeah.

Emma from Ocean Mimic

So on on Bali we started to run beach clean-ups there. And at first it was just me and Chelsea and three or four people joining and it was amazing to see because from week to week, clean-ups grew, more and more people wanted to be involved. And at the same time as we grew from five to 10 to 20 to 30 people and monsoon season arrived in Bali.

And we went from picking up 20 or 30 kilos on the beach to picking up 750 kilos in one hour on this beach with only 40 or 50 people. This was just absolutely crazy. And every monsoon season this happens, you literally can stand in one spot and wait for each wave to bring you more plastic to pick up. You don’t even have to move. And after picking up 750 kilos on that day, it still was in dirty beach. And we went back the next day and picked up another 500 kilos off the same beach. It’s just unimaginable amounts of trash during the season. And this happens every single year.

Pristine Ocean

700 kilos every day that just incredible. This is obviously part of a larger problem. And we’ll talk about that in in a minute. But just staying to the claim that’s big, same with the cleanups. What kind of people are involved in the cleanup? So are they more tourists? Are they more locals.

Emma from Ocean Mimic

So originally, I would say that there were mostly tourists. And then we would have a few Western expats and a few locals. And interestingly, up until recently, we have hired a local guy to manage the charity in Bali since I left. And that’s helped a lot in getting more locals involved. So but up until that point, it was always less locals. And we’re always trying to figure out how to get more locals to join. And aside from we did do quite a lot of projects with schools, which was our sort of way into the local population. But I’d say mostly tourists at the beginning.

Pristine Ocean

Oh, that’s a really interesting point with the schools. So you started interacting with the school children. Tell us how that came about.

Emma from Ocean Mimic

So we actually I’ve got a good friend who I met through the beach cleanups called Gamma, an Indonesian guy, and he was bringing his daughter with him to the cleanups.

And it was so nice to see young kids getting involved with the cleanups. And he spoke to me and said, how she was telling off the rest of the family for using plastic. And she would point at things and say, Oh, no, that’s plastic that he like. And I was like, Wow, she’s just she’s, yeah, really, um, she was really inspired.

And I think she was only five or six years old. And, and so Gamma asked me, “Why don’t you come to the local school, and we’ll talk to the head teacher and see whether we can get her whole school involved”. And I did that and spoke to the principal there. And they were so excited to  join. And since then we’ve had preschool, the elementary school both involved twice to do to do cleanup activities. And we play games with them on the beach. And, and then we give them little educational leaflets, with quizzes and word searches and things to take away with them to learn a little bit more. And that’s been really, really rewarding to see. And the kids involved and they’ll go home and tell their families and their parents we have

Pristine Ocean

that’s great. It’s really, really heartwarming to hear stories like that, where you’re approaching the next generation, because I don’t think this problem is going to go away tomorrow. It’s going to be take some time and and you know, the kids are really the best way into change because they’re people who are going to change or have the capacity to change the most. I remember I was brushing my teeth once and leaving the water running. And my four year old son came up and turned the tap off and looked up at me. You know, it was something that he’d learned in kindergarten. And I mean, since then I have not let the tap run when I’m brushing my teeth. So I mean, this is the way to to change people, you know, the children through the children. And so that’s, that’s really great to hear that you’re doing that. What do you What is the what is the message that you think that the children are receiving? Are they saying that we need to look after the environment? Do we have to change our own behavior? Is it something larger than that? What do you think messages.

Emma from Ocean Mimic

So this is an interesting part of what we’ve been doing in Bali is, there are different messages that affect people differently. And so for, for me personally, and for some children, it’s to say, let’s not hurt the animal. Like, you’re making the fish sick, by having this plastic in the oceans. And whereas for other children, and especially for the adults, we found within Indonesia is to drive home the message that we are eating plastic, that by putting all this plastic in our oceans, it’s making us sick. And we say to the children, like, do you eat fish? And then I? Yes, yes, fish is delicious, delicious, delicious. And then we tell them all, then you’re eating plastic, and they look at you like,no, like, so shocked. And so this is part of the some of the messages that we want to give, bring them.

And we also try and play lots of games with them. So it’s a little bit more fun. And, and I really hope that they can feel inspired to try and talk to their families to make these changes, because especially I feel it’s a little bit more challenging working in this area within Indonesia, because of the extent of the problem and how much there is to do. And in to some extent how, and the people have more responsibility, there’s not a lot of help from the government, only half of the waste produced every day in Bali is collected by anybody. So they have to figure that out on their own. And for a lot of local people, there are much more important things to think about. It’s not like it’s how am I going to feed my family? How am I going to get through a pandemic with zero tourism? Not Oh, I shouldn’t throw my bottles into the river, I should go and drive to a waste facility for half an hour away. So it’s a really, it’s a big challenge, for sure.

Pristine Ocean

Okay, so you’ve touched on a number of points there, the role of the government, the role of the municipality, how the people behave themselves, but how would you describe the central problem in Indonesia, concerning plastic pollution?

Emma from Ocean Mimic

The thing with plastic pollution is so multifaceted, there are so many things we need to solve in order to fix the problem. You can’t. You can’t simply you can’t only educate, you have to improve the infrastructure, you have to put policies in place, there are so many different things. And from for me, I think the main thing that needs to be done in Indonesia is infrastructure. As I mentioned, before, half of the rubbish which is produced in Bali, every day isn’t collected by anybody. And if you saw my tweet, I think it’s 22% of this goes directly into the oceans directly into the rivers, because out of sight, out of mind, and this is why once we get to monsoon season, all of this trash has been building up into the rivers until the rain, washes it down into the oceans.

Pristine Ocean

Right. So you’ve touched on a number of massive problems there. But before they can be changed, people have to be aware. And that’s, I guess, what you’re doing with the with beach cleanups. But let’s change now and talk about finance. How do you finance the whole operation?

Emma from Ocean Mimic

At the moment, we’re covering these costs through two avenues. One is donations from individuals who can donate through our websites. And secondly is through Business, Business sponsors, but sustainable businesses. So we have we have one main business sponsor called freeflow. Active for example, who they create yoga leggings and products out of recycled plastic material just as we do through our suits.

Pristine Ocean

You say that you have sponsorships from sustainable businesses. What about cooperating collaborating with a plastic packaging company?

Emma from Ocean Mimic

It is something that I’ve seen struggled with in the past. Ocean Mimic has been approached by Aqua from Danone in the past to collaborate. But personally, it didn’t sit well with me, and especially with just how much many of their products were picking up on the beaches. But I’m also aware that it’s important to work with these companies in order for that to be change. And I think that just needs to be a certain level of trust and concrete ideas of how they are going to make changes to that product line rather than giving you money and continuing their practices as they are sort of to shed that guilt, if that makes sense. But as for me, it didn’t sit well. But that’s not to say that it will never happen in the future.

Pristine Ocean

On one side, you’ve got the beach clean-ups, as a charity. But as a start-up, you have a range of swimwear. What was the inspiration behind starting that? And what does that got to do with beach clean-ups?

Emma from Ocean Mimic

So on the swimwear side, we mimic different sea creatures with our designs, which is where ocean mimic comes from. So we wanted to take inspiration from the ocean, and to inspire people about these ocean creatures and to inspire them to protect these same creatures.

Pristine Ocean

But I understand that it’s not just the designs that have to do with the ocean. It’s also to do with the material itself, right? Yes.

Emma from Ocean Mimic

So as swimwear is, is made of a really exciting material, it’s made of recycled plastic. And so it’s partly recycled fishing nets and other postconsumer plastics get created gets recycled into a nylon.

And then we have our quite striking designs inspired by different marine life. So whale shark design, parrot fish, Mandarin fish, and we’re always coming up with new creatures to mimic. And this has been a really exciting journey seeing as I have zero experience in manufacturing or design or marketing or business. So that’s been a lot to learn in the past two years. And, and only and now we’re just this week actually about to launch our ocean mimic bikini as well.

Pristine Ocean

Emma, thanks for talking to us today. Thank you so much.

Emma from Ocean Mimic

It’s been such a pleasure.

Pristine Ocean

That was Emma  from Ocean Mimic. If you’re interested in more about ocean mimic or you’d like to donate or look at the range of swimwear, go to http://ocean-mimic.com. That’s it for this week. Thanks for listening. Please do subscribe to the pristine ocean podcast. Each week we talk to guests from around the world who are tackling the scourge of plastic litter in the marine environment.

All Posts
×

Almost done…

We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!

OK