5 is here to celebrate and connect people and organisations who are having a positive impact on the world. Our High 5 series gives the stage to these inspiring people – and asks them to pass the High 5 on to someone who has inspired them.
This time we give a High 5 to William Pearson, co-founder of Ocean Bottle, the small bottle with a big impact. Each reusable bottle sold funds the collection of ocean-bound waste amounting to the equivalent of 1,000 plastic bottles. In this way, the initiative helps save the sea while also supporting plastic collectors in coastal communities, who exchange that plastic for the things they need, such as education, healthcare or access to microfinance.
William told us what inspired him to take action, how everyone can jump in when it comes to climate impact, and who he’d like to give a High 5 to.
What inspired you to do what you do?
A big part of Ocean Bottle came from spending a year working at sea out in the Indian Ocean. There, I encountered Thilafushi in the Maldives, also known as ‘rubbish Island’. On Thilafushi, the plastic waste from resorts is predominantly burnt and left to drift out into the ocean. It was after this encounter that I began to further research the issue, discovering that 22 million kilos of plastic pours into the ocean each day, well over a truckload every minute. This rate is now increasing and ocean plastic is expected to double by 2030.
I then came across Plastic Bank, which builds ethical recycling systems in coastal communities around the world. They were setting up infrastructure in some of the worst-hit places, such as Haiti, Indonesia and the Philippines. I realised that this was a great solution that we should connect people all over the world to. So we decided to create a product that people could use every day to be more sustainable, and also have a massive, direct and tangible impact on the plastic crisis. This is where Ocean Bottle came in.
About Ocean Bottle
Ocean Bottle enables anyone who cares about the planet the opportunity to help turn the tap off ocean plastic. Not only does the reusable bottle avoid adding to the problem, the sale of every Ocean Bottle prevents 11.4kg of plastic from entering the ocean and helps to support local plastic collectors. The collected plastic is recycled into new products.
What advice would you give to others who want to make a positive impact?
We all have a collective responsibility to take environmental action in our respective jobs and driving seats within society. The bigger the driving seat, the bigger the responsibility.
But people also have an opportunity to affect change in their communities or even better, switch seats entirely. If you’re an employee, you can tell your company to change something, if you’re a student, you can forge your career, if you’re a board member, you can make the right decisions.
It all adds up to an uncontainable pressure cooker which results in action. Can we use this global crisis as an opportunity to reset and if so, how can we reimagine the world we want to live in? This is the decade for environmental action – it’s not too late, jump in!
Who do you want to pass a High 5 on to?
Oliver Wayman and Cameron Saul, co-founders of BOTTLETOP and the #TOGETHERBAND campaign. Firstly because the flagship BOTTLETOP store is the world’s first zero-waste retail location, created using 3D printers and recycled ocean and plastic waste, which is pretty cool. Secondly, the aim of the #TOGETHERBAND wristband, made from recycled ocean plastic, is to raise awareness for the UN Sustainable Development Goals, connecting people from all over the world to one of these goals. All of the profits from the wristbands go to the TOGETHER FUND, which supports the Covid-19 response and life-changing programmes working to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals that are critical for a healthy planet.