Meet the Couple Cleaning up Bali’s Rubbish through Innovation

Felix Wunner and Luise Grossmann

Known as the Island of the Gods and one of the top surfing destinations in the world, officials from the Indonesian island of Bali have helplessly declared a Rubbish Emergency, for both land and sea. This global headline has weighed heavily on the hearts of surfers Luise Grossmann and Felix Wunner.

This power couple has created Five Oceans ecoFins, the world’s first, high-quality surf fin made from recycled rubbish from Bali. Yes, you heard right, rubbish!

We caught up with them to find out how they’re shrinking colossal piles of rubbish, one fin at a time.

This idea of turning plastic rubbish into surf fins, when and how did this incredible idea come about?

The idea was born out of our extensive travels while searching for the world’s best waves to surf. Along the way, we’ve been shocked and saddened by the amount of rubbish in the ocean, so we started researching about the topic of ocean pollution.

The more we got lost in the research, something called from within: somebody needs to stop this.

But there was nothing out there at the time. I personally never felt like a huge mover and shaker, but suddenly felt the desire to act. Felix was working on a surfboard fin concept, and we thought this is the ideal product, to involve surfers as role models, promote recycling, and most importantly raise awareness about the issue.

Check out this award-winning documentary summarising their mission:

How do you stay focused on your project without getting overwhelmed with the amount of trash you’re dealing with?

It mainly shows us how relevant our work is. We’ve always seen our little project as a humble attempt to raise awareness and prove the point that you can actually make something out of all the rubbish.

In Bali itself, do you think the rubbish problem has come about from a lack of education or a lack of resources? Or both?

In most cases it is certainly a mix. We would say the lack of infrastructure first, followed by a lack of education. Simply because if there is nowhere to dispose of rubbish in a correct way, the education can hardly be effective.

Grassroots activities are as important government policies; waste management infrastructure is just important as teaching people what can be recycled and how to make your litter worth recycling by cleaning, separating into different types of plastic etc.

Have you witnessed any first-hand changes in how Balinese go about recycling their plastics in recent years?

There is definitely more awareness about ocean pollution and waste problems. People are starting to understand that single use plastics are a wasted resource. Luckily more and more cool alternatives continue to pop up-often by young and innovative start-ups.

On a global level, the concept of the Circular Economy seems to get more and more traction. Just recently the European Union pledged to achieve 100% recycling rate of packaging by 2030.

Around 100 plastic bottle caps go into just one set of EcoFins.

With strength and performance tests carried out in the lab, Five Oceans fins are truly up there with the best surf fins on the market.

Felix and Luise are currently based in the island of Lombok, Indonesia, where they continue to develop and grow their inspiring business. You can visit their website Five Oceans for more info.

Giving new life to trash is the concept behind 30A.com’s Dumpster Diver line of apparel. Learn more about Dumpster Diver here and see all our recycled designs at 30Agear.com.

SHANNON DAVIDSON is a passionate surfer with an obsession of all things beach life. Inspired by the perfection & mystery contained within the ocean, Shannon loves to share with the world, through her writing, all that she finds along the way. Follow her adventures on surfchickareta.com.

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