5 questions with... Ocean Mimic
The first interview in our #GroundswellSeries features two women who are changing Bali’s plastic problem, one snazzy swimsuit at a time!
Ocean Mimic is a clean-up community and soon-to-be sustainable swimwear brand run by Emma Sparrow and business partner, Chelsea Clements. We spoke to one half of the duo who told us about how they traded in the grey skies of the UK and headed for Bali’s beaches hoping to make a change to the island’s plastic addiction...
Hi, Emma! Thanks so much for sharing your story with us. Please tell us more about yourself and Ocean Mimic! What made you want to start it and why in Bali?!
Hi, I’m Emma. I’m 25 and from the UK. I’m a scuba diver, yoga teacher and now leading a beach cleaning community in Bali with my business partner, Chelsea, who is actually from Wales!
When we were living in Malaysia and working as scuba divers, we saw all the plastic washing up onto the beaches from the sea. It was heartbreaking. We decided there and then to do something about it and, like that, Ocean Mimic was born. We moved to Bali because Indonesia is the second greatest contributor to ocean plastic pollution in the world and it’s in great need of help.
What are the main challenges you’ve encountered so far and what would you say is the best way to help change people’s mentalities towards the use of plastic, particularly single-use plastics?
One of our biggest challenges has been dealing with the rubbish we pick up in the best way we can. Recycling is near non-existent on the island and even the trucks going to landfill have been spotted emptying trash into rivers to save money on petrol. So, now we hire our own truck and driver to take the non-recyclables to landfill. We send the recyclables to Eco Bali to transport to Java for recycling.
I’ve found the most powerful way to do this is to help people recognise their own power. Many people don’t change their lifestyle because they feel like their own actions are insignificant. We have to remind people that all revolutions start with ordinary people leading the way. The plastic revolution is no different. This is why our tagline is “It all starts with you”, because it really does.
Bali has just changed it’s law on plastics - do you think this will have a real impact?
I was over the moon when the island banned single-use plastics, but I have to say I was sceptical. However, I have been pleasantly surprised so far! In the supermarkets and mini markets there are no plastic bags allowed. Change really is happening and that is very exciting to see.
What are your top tips for someone who wants to move towards a more plastic-free lifestyle?
I’d say the first three steps are - bottle, bag and straw. Once you have these three items there is really no need to ever use a single use version again! If you have these nailed, start introducing other alternatives one at a time. The more you get into the plastic-free life, the more you end up seeing what you can change. It can feel overwhelming at first, but step by step you can get there. Don’t be hard on yourself!
What are you up to this year and what do you hope to accomplish?
This March we’re launching our Kickstarter campaign for our eco-friendly product line. We will be releasing swimwear, t-shirts and others things made of recycled plastic. All the products are inspired by the ocean we’re trying to protect. For every $1 spent we promise to pick up 100g of litter from our beaches and the oceans. Later on in the year we will be opening up our online store and all this will continue to fund our clean-up movement.
This year we’re hoping our clean-up community will continue to grow. We would love for awareness to continue to spread about the plastic issues in Bali and worldwide. We also really hope that our Kickstarter is a big success!