May 9, 2017

Can a bracelet craze clean our oceans?

[Updated September 2018] 4Ocean has put an artistic spin on a straightforward solution to plastic pollution in the oceans. Their solution is simple: Beach and coastal water cleanups. Their innovation is in how they fund their work, selling bracelets and reusable bottles made of recycled plastic and glass.

4Ocean aims to remove a half kilogram (1 pound) of plastic and other debris from the ocean for every bracelet and bottle they sell. The concept follows a simple principle: you buy the product, proceeds from your purchase help clean the ocean. To date the company has pulled 1 million pounds of trash from the ocean. To do its work 4Ocean employs 160 people, including fishermen, captains and crew, in the United States, Haiti and Bali.

Is there really that much plastic in the ocean?

Anxiety has been rising over the clouds of plastic in the oceans even as we collectively dump the equivalent of one garbage truck full of plastic waste into the ocean every minute, according to a study by the World Economic Forum. There are 250,000 tons of plastic in the water now, and at the rate we’re adding it, there could be more plastic than fish by the year 2050 (by weight).

New organizations have emerged to address the problem. We reported on OceanCleanup, which captured imaginations with its innovative take on waste cleanup using deep-water floating barriers. Some experts have eyed the project skeptically, however, saying that time is better spent in preventing plastic from entering from our oceans in the first place. And one expert review suggests that cleaning up water near coasts and cities that are the source of the pollution would be more efficient than deep-sea platforms in the gyres.

4Ocean’s simple cleanup solution, on the other hand, is the same employed by non-profits and thousands of beach-combing volunteers around the world. Collecting trash from the beach is a direct way to reduce the trash in the ocean, according to the non-profit Oceanic Society.

What Are the Bracelets Made From?

The bands reflect a minimalist aesthetic as a string of clear beads made from recycled glass bottles bound with cord made from plastic bottles. You might be wondering if the bracelets are made directly from the trash that 4Ocean removes from the oceans, and they are not. They are made of recycled materials from a facility.

At $20 (£15), the price of the bracelet may be slightly more than at which other ‘charities’ market theirs, but 4Ocean is striving to fulfil its promise of cleanup.

Weekly Update Tracker

A tracker on 4Ocean’s website counts off the pounds of plastic that they have cleaned. At the time of writing, it’s at nearly 48,000 lbs (21,770kg). And it rises regularly.

“To ensure that we hold our promise true to our customers, we make a monthly effort to stay ahead of it. For example, our website displays that our trash tracker has removed 47,000 pounds – we have not yet sold 47,000 bracelets,” Andrew Cooper, one of 4Ocean’s founders, told E4C.

This is a fantastic way to keep people who have bought their bands updated on 4Ocean’s progress.

Mark Murphy of Oyster diving said that their idea was “a step in the right direction for the sustainability and health of our oceans,” and believes that “if more people got involved in similar projects, our ocean and sea-life’s health would improve dramatically.”

Who is 4Ocean?

The organization is based out of an office and warehouse in Boca Raton, Florida (USA). A team of more than 30 employees, including a boat captain, collect trash five days per week. They sort out the recyclable materials and drop the rest at a solid waste processing facility.

How do we know they’re really cleaning up?

Doing good things for the environment and for people is good for business, so It’s hard to know which organizations are really taking action, and which ones make empty promises as a marketing scheme. 4Ocean establishes a paper trail of receipts and photos for its trash drop-offs to try to demonstrate the work the team has done. And they’re in the process of registering with the Better Business Bureau, Mr. Cooper says.

Want to volunteer? Go for it!

4Ocean hosts onshore and offshore cleanups, inviting volunteers who want to help make our oceans healthier. You can sign up to help via their newsletter here, (scroll to the bottom of the page) and they’ll let you know when their next cleanup is going to be.

The organization operates in Florida and the Caribbean, but there are other programs around the world. Surfers Against Sewage takes volunteers in the UK, for example. And you can find beach cleanup events at Surfrider Foundation and at The Ocean Conservancy’s website.

Join the cause and help out at your local beach anytime you can!

A post shared by 4Ocean Bracelets (@4ocean) on

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Comments from the Community


  1. iris davenport says:

    Where/how do you buy the bracelets?

  2. Rob Goodier says:

    You can find them at 4Ocean’s site here: Thanks for your interest!

  3. Kathleen says:

    What happens with the trash that’s removed from the oceans?

  4. Rob Goodier says:

    It’s taken to a recycling center.

  5. TERRONI says:

    belle initiative, j’ai d’ailleurs acheté un bracelet.
    Dans un premier temps, il faut bien sûr nettoyer. Mais cela ne suffit pas à réduire le nombre de déchets. Pourquoi ne pas en jeter, puisqu’ils sont récupérés ? C’est ce que pourraient penser les pollueurs.
    Aussi parallèlement, faites vous des campagnes de sensibilisation pour éviter que les déchets ne se retrouvent en mer ? Les choses passent très souvent par l’information et l’éducation.

  6. Autumn Hanna says:

    I donated to you cause, because I think it is a very good cause, but I have been having problems with your customer relations. No matter the outcome, the ocean and getting it clean is what matter the most to me.

    My problem is that I never received my bracelet from you company. The package was marked delivered, but I did not receive it. I contacted your company right away to let you know and ask for their help. The response I got was that I need to go ask my neighbors if they got the package by mistake. I was also told I needed to contact the post office myself to find out what may have happened to it, even though I have no idea of when it was shipped, how it was shipped. What the bracelet is made out, all questions that they ask you when trying to find out what happened to a package.

    When I responded to the customer care personal tell her help with this, I was told this response, “that by placing an order with 4Ocean, the customer acknowledges and accepts all responsibility for the tracking of the package to be delivered to the destination given to 4Ocean during checkout. We are not responsible for lost or stolen packages or packages delayed by the Postal Service Domestically or Internationally, as stated in our shipping policy. By purchasing with 4Ocean the customer agrees to these terms.” So I guess I am out of luck, and I will not get a bracelet. I assumed that when you bought a product that the company was responsible for providing that product; I guess we live in a world were that no longer applies.

    I wish you all the best luck in your endeavors with cleaning up the ocean. However, when I next donate to a cause dealing with out oceans, I may look for a more honest and fair company to do business with.

  7. John Dozier says:

    Great job guys. Keep up the good work.

  8. You did get the product, the REAL PRODUCT. A pound of garbage was removed from the ocean………. The bracelet was just a trinket…… a thank you. So I say Thank You Autumn, for sending $20 to help clean the ocean.

  9. Rob Goodier says:

    Hi Autumn, please note that this is a news article about 4Ocean and their bracelets, but this site is not related to that organization in any way. It’s likely that nobody at 4Ocean will read your comment on this site, I’d suggest that you write or call them directly with your complaint. Thanks for reading and good luck.

  10. 4Ocean bracelets can be purchased in the UK at – we are a UK distributor for 4Ocean and your purchases will still result in 1 pound of trash being removed from the ocean, along with support for other good causes like Breast Cancer Awareness, Shark Awareness, Polar Bears International and CarbonFund.

  11. katie says:

    What proportion of proceeds to go profit vs. the charitable act of cleaning the ocean?

  12. Eileen Schauermann says:

    Love my bracelet. Going for another.

  13. Doris Miller says:

    I just bought two bracelets. I’m glad to know the organization is legitimate.,,l

  14. Julie says:

    I’ve just completed a Panama/Caribbean cruise. Beautiful destinations but the rubbish around the place was very disappointing to see. Under the Natural Bridge in Aruba was full of rubbish. I hope these areas can be cleaned up too. Maybe get the cruise lines involved. Above all people need to be responsible!

  15. JY says:

    Have you found bracelets in your beach trash?

  16. Florence de vette says:

    Hi I’m Florence from Montréal in canada.
    I have a grocery store zero waste bulk and I think we have the same goals.
    Please tell me if I can buy you a lot of bracelet and sell it in my store.

    Have a nice day

  17. Ethan says:

    How long Have you guys been doing this?

  18. Sherry says:

    Your website & activities are very interesting. I realize you aren’t a nonprofit, but I’ve been trying to find out what percentage of your expenses are used for programs (i.e. Cleaning the waters). I’d love to donate to this cause but I’d really like to know where the money goes…….

  19. Harry Peltier says:

    I made my purchase of bracelets last week along with the removal of 3 pounds of garbage. Got all bracelets with a great bags and a Thank you card. They look great. Thanks for the work.

  20. Pat Soderberg says:

    The Chesapeake and Severn rivers are definitely in need of this. Is this program in that area of Maryland?

  21. Penelope A Turpin says:

    It’s for profit! That’s why you can’t find a rating or the percent of monies taken in that go toward clean-up, versus profit, on 4Ocean is NOT a charity.

  22. Barbara Willmore says:

    you do realize this is a nonprofit and not Zappos, right? they stated the shipping policy, things like lost mail happen and a small nonprofit cannot spend money, time and energy on such things, that’s why they created the mail policy that you must not have read before you made your donation.

  23. VictoriA mcDonald says:

    I just found out about this company because I applied for a position just minutes ago. I must say after reading about the company and what they do I am very impressed! Not only would I be honored to work for this company I would be honored to volunteer to be a part of the clean up process on the beaches! I am a Boca Raton, FL resident but grew up in the Cape Cod area of Massachusetts and as a young girl I would help my mother and neighbors pick up any trash that washed up on our beaches so I am very happy to learn about this company!

  24. Linda says:

    Keep up the good work. YOU can make a difference!

  25. Kerstin says:

    I do a beach clean up 2 to 3 times a week in Dorset – about one hour per day between high and low tide. Yesterday, I caught a lot of plastic and paper out of the water as well.

  26. Adam says:

    Actually Barbara, 4Ocean is a FOR PROFIT company (just Google 4oceans for profit and you’ll see), so an unknown amount of your “donation” or purchase goes to ocean cleanup (probably 10-20%) and the rest lines the pockets of the owners. Everyone thinks they are a non-profit and some even “donate” monthly. It’s actually a brilliant business plan. They’ll retire at 40 like kings.

  27. Joan carmichael says:

    I received my bracelet today. I am so pleased it came in days of my order. Thanks for the decal. It’s on my bumper. What a good cause. I was haply to make the donation. Thank you for making a difference in our oceans!

  28. M L Weber says:

    Thank God someone is doing something to save our oceans. We need to do all we can to save our planet for our children and grandchildren

  29. Sue Lossing says:

    Some for-profits do have non-profit programs. I do not mind knowing that my bracelet purchase goes towards paying someone to coordinate the removal/reclaiming of plastic trash that is polluting our environments. Volunteering is time given, and to be productive there needs to be someone (or more) that spends more time organizing. The larger the project (and this is a large project), the more reliable time needed for planning/coordination. Unless independently wealthy, this person would need to be paid so they can afford to exist. Having a consistent, responsible person coordinating provides the direction of opportunities for those who have less time/resources so to still support the mission. I am interested in knowing the distribution percentages from the bracelet sales. I would like also, to better understand more on how the proceeds from the shark bracelet helps protect sharks from being over-killed (I’m not sure I understood the video very well).

  30. solutioneur says:

    4Ocean is just a marketing scam. It’s makes no measurable difference in our oceans and it only enriches a few marketing guys. Dumb.

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