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All For Blue: Local Actions for Global Problems

Emma Williams, 24.08.2021

Change humanity’s relationship with the ocean, Mediterranean Sea, Understand and beat marine pollution

All For Blue is an international non-profit organization founded in 2017 with the vision to connect people to the oceans through educational outreach programs and community clean-up activities.

Through education, collaboration, and dedication, we can help spread awareness, motivate and empower communities everywhere to connect with nature and act for the environment.

Our work directly aligns with 3 out of the 7 UN Ocean Decade outcomes: a clean ocean, an accessible ocean, and an inspiring and engaging ocean. But, over the coming decade, we want to do even more to have a more significant and lasting positive impact on the ocean and how people connect to it.

Using a bottom-up approach, All For Blue has reached over 55,000 students through ocean awareness and shark conservation seminars and removed 220 tons of waste during 300 coastal and underwater clean-up events since 2017. Through these efforts, we are given the opportunity to offer something valuable, do something beyond ourselves, trigger a positive change in people, and directly impact the ocean. After all, local actions can lead to global changes.

We see children not just as the future but as fundamental allies in our efforts to create a better world now. Therefore, we create opportunities to directly engage with the younger generations, bringing them as close as possible to the enchanting underwater world. Our seminars aim to empower the audience, especially children, with the hope of connecting them to the ocean and giving them an understanding of the importance of healthy marine ecosystems to us all.

We owe a debt of gratitude to everyone who has participated in any All For Blue activity! Thousands of citizens and students have already mobilized to participate in beach and underwater clean-up events, divers have helped to pull plastics and other waste from the seabed, and companies and stores that have shared the social responsibility of environmental protection with us. Demonstrating enthusiasm and willingness to put words into action.

We always enjoy hosting clean-up events. Not only are they a lot of fun, but they are an inclusive and rewarding way to get involved and actively help look after nature. But we could not have accomplished this on our own. So we are thrilled to see our network of marine advocates, ocean champions, and supporters continue to grow, making us stronger and our voice louder than ever.

As a result of our activities, 23 community-led teams have been created by students in the Greek islands and abroad. While All For Blue continues to support these teams, they organize and lead their own clean-up events in their local communities. Thus, continuing the work of All For Blue after we have left. This has reinforced the importance of empowering individuals regardless of age, gender, or anything else, because someone who is empowered can achieve great things, and an empowered community can lead to big changes.

All waste collected during our coastal and underwater clean-ups is recycled or disposed of responsibly. However, as our clean-up activities grew, we felt compelled to find ways to utilize all of this “waste” rather than simply disposing of it. This was especially true for the vast quantities of plastic being collected. Merely removing the plastic from the beaches and ocean no longer felt like enough. The same properties that make plastic such an issue to the environment also make it a useful building material. Our problem is that we use it for the wrong things. Plastic was designed to last, which sparked us to rethink ways to repurpose and use the plastic collected for something positive rather than in the ocean.

In 2020 we rolled out our first-ever waste bins made from ocean plastic collected by All For Blue volunteers. So far, these waste bins have been placed in schools, parks, Mayor’s offices, and coastguard offices within the communities who collected the plastic. By making something useful and placing it within the community, we are working to alter perceptions of “waste” and the disposal attitude towards plastic. Repurposing, up-cycling, and a circular economy have many benefits to both the economy and the community.

We are determined to continue increasing our clean-up activities and organize new missions in Greece and abroad. In addition to this, we have three primary goals for the UN Ocean Decade: to create more products from ocean plastic, form more local community-led teams, and create engaging and accessible educational materials.

During the Ocean Decade, the All For Blue team are not only committed to increasing the number of waste bins made from repurposed ocean plastic, but we also hope to expand this idea to include other products that benefit communities too, such as benches and playground equipment. We will also be looking for partners to collaborate with to expand this concept to other countries, with the aim to increase the number of community-led teams from 23 to 100 during this time. Lastly, in recognition of the UN Ocean Decade, we will be releasing a “Science For All” section on our website, providing engaging ocean-related educational material to all. We are particularly excited about using our new Trident underwater drone to create virtual reality underwater swims to help connect those who don’t live near the coast or cannot access it to experience the ocean.

The UN Ocean Decade has put a spotlight on the oceans, and together we can make it count!

This article is part of an online series dedicated to the UN Ocean Decade. One story will be published each week that is related to initiatives, new knowledge, partnerships, or innovative solutions that are relevant to the following seven Ocean Decade outcomes. Access the special digital issue dedicated to the Ocean Decade here.