Together to raise awareness and protect the Ocean
Since day one, at 24Bottles, we have strived to follow the sustainability path as much as we could. Our aim has been that of creating finely designed, innovative products that can help people live better while respecting the Planet and protect it from unnecessary harm and pollution.
We always used aesthetics as a means to achieve an ethical purpose: reducing plastic usage in everyday life, without losing style points. Building on this principle, we believe that the Reef Collection, our latest achievement, is well satisfying for everyone out there.
The Reef Collection is a great team effort, in which the vivid images taken by Daniel Espirito Santo on the Portuguese coastline evoke the same environmental setting on which Clean Ocean Project put their effort in, day after day, cleaning the beaches first-hand and raising awareness among the population and the institutions, in order to join forces and protect our environment from further contamination.
Clean Ocean Project is a non-governmental organization based on Fuerteventura. Founded in 2000 by Wim Geirnaert, one of their main concerns is to reduce, possibly eliminate, disposable plastic use and resulting pollution. That is why it is more than a pleasure to support each other on our common mission, devoting to them the 10% of the proceeds coming from the fresh new Reef Collection.
24Bottles – Hi Wim, tell us a bit more about you and Clean Ocean Project.
Wim Geirnaert – I´m originally from Belgium. I spent half of my life on the Canary Islands to live my dream and live by the Ocean. Therefore, I came to Fuerteventura in 1993, looking for a relaxed and peaceful life, close to the shore. I always dreamed of surfing every day and from the very first moment, I felt at home. It was love at first sight.
In the summer when the Calima – the east wind from Africa – is blowing, I go windsurfing, while in the winter, when the big swells are born over the Atlantic, I go surfing. I used to work for a textile company and three years later I established my own business in Lajares, printing and designing t-shirts for local Spanish companies.
The Northshore is my playground. It is such a beautiful scenery formed out of volcanic rocks and reefs. It looks indestructible but it isn´t. It`s a fragile ecosystem. But everybody used it as a dump. The beaches were dirty, full of all sorts of litter. There was no respect towards nature at all.
So I spoke with friends and we organized the 1st Beach Cleaning in Cotillo in 2002. We met at the beach, invited friends and neighbours to join, gave them t-shirts, gloves, bags or Windbreakers which we designed. We worked the whole day and in the evening we sat together, tired but happy. It was a good experience and a lot of fun. Clean Ocean Project was born.
On Fuerteventura, we approached the local government. Since 2002 little by little we could change their awareness. Now they do their bit by sending out staff to watch after the beaches. To keep the movement alive we send out invitations cards to announce the next Beach Cleaning. Our idea has grown slowly and spread to Lanzarote, the Cape Verde Islands, Maroc and even across the Atlantic to Brazil. After all the years little by little a change of attitude towards nature is visible on the Canaries, especially on Fuerteventura. The beaches are much cleaner now. That`s such a great reward and motivation.
24B – How many people work at Clean Ocean Project?
WG – We work with about 10 persons on the project besides a network of volunteers for our beach cleanups and people all over Europe volunteering like copywriters, web design, press, and we are working on political lobbies on Canarian, Spanish, EU level.
24B – What do you like about 24Bottles?
WG – I’ve first seen 24Bottles in a Guggenheim museum and immediately noticed a minimalist cool design with great functionality. I use myself a Clima and a Urban Bottle. This helps me reach my goal of never ever using a plastic bottle wherever I find myself, whether it is on the beach, in the city or travelling.