There’s one more pyramid in Egypt, only this one’s built out of recovered plastic waste. 18,000kg’s of it, to be precise. But for Mike & Co’s 100 year cleanup quest, removing 1 million water bottles from the Nile is only the beginning.

The 100YR Cleanup

Last month Zero Co announced a bold new environmental initiative, rallying companies to participate in a global rubbish removal project spanning multiple generations. Dubbed the 100YR Cleanup, the mission sees the Australian circular home cleaning and body care brand both raising funds and taking action to spearhead large-scale rubbish cleanups, at various locations around the world.

The company aims to remove over 15 million water bottles of rubbish from the world’s oceans.

Zero Co recognises that such an audacious task will take multiple years to achieve, reversing the decades of pollution that the planet has endured. Regardless, that doesn’t mean the company is setting modest targets, but rather the opposite. In the first year of the project, Zero Co aims to remove over 15 million water bottles of rubbish from the world’s oceans. The cost of such an endeavour is estimated at around 1 million dollars (AUD), yet the Australian zero waste brand is betting big by pledging the first $100,000 to get things rolling. Together with founding partners The Hidden Sea ($50,000) and the Skip Foundation ($50,000), along with individual contributions, the team have raised nearly $300,000 as of this writing.

And for those looking to get involved, the company is accepting rubbish-removal sponsorships from as little as $20, with each $100 raised helping to facilitate the removal of approximately 1,500 water bottles worth of rubbish.

Founder Mike Smith recognises that the project’s multi-year success relies on participation at scale. Smith is cognizant of the fact that the company can’t go it alone and is calling on businesses and individuals across the planet to join in.

“Untrashing the planet will require everyone doing their bit, not just today, not just tomorrow, but across multiple generations,” Smith said.

Starting with November’s huge cleanup in Egypt, the team will travel to the Seven Seas, the Himalayas and the Pacific, working with partners to remove rubbish from oceans, beaches and the local environment.

An Eventful First Event

The initial 100YR Cleanup outing certainly lived up to the company’s lofty ambitions. Zero Co partnered with VeryNille, who helped recruit fisherman and volunteers to join the event. Over the course of four weeks, the team removed over 18,000kg of waste from the Nile River, the equivalent of over 1 million water bottles worth of rubbish.

Mike decided to spend three days camping out atop the structure, in a further effort to draw global media attention to the plastic problem.

Since launching the campaign, the Zero Co has been vocal about their efforts to un-trash the planet, with the aim of raising awareness and participation from individuals and businesses alike. This cleanup was the perfect opportunity to put the focus on sustainability and conservation, especially as it was occurring just ahead of the COP27 environmental summit. Considering the fact that Egypt is home to the great Pyramids, the team decided to build one of their own! The result was a giant monument built from the reclaimed plastic waste, standing over ten meters tall and weighing in at over 18 tonnes (18,000 kg). It was an epic visualisation of the sheer amount of plastic pollution removed from the Nille, but the spectacle was not yet complete. Mike decided to then spend three days camping out atop the structure, in a further effort to draw global media attention to the plastic problem.

Each day, the Zero Co founder spoke with global media outlets, showcasing the efforts of the team and raising awareness for the 100YR Cleanup campaign. And all this hard work shows signs of early promise. Zero Co’s first event resulted in over 500 pieces of multi-channel news coverage, including this article, which will hopefully translate to increased funding and participation from the public and industry.

Looking Ahead

With the first event behind them, Mike & Co are planning their next environmental adventure. The team has big plans for 2023 and are aiming to reach new heights (and lows). Future activities include a trek to the Himalayas to clean up the ‘roof of the world’ and a live broadcast of an underwater untrashing event along the ocean floor. If all goes well, the company also plans to build a full-time clean-up crew that will run ocean cleanups five days a weak across Australian and South East Asia, for the duration of the campaign (100 years).

Visit Zero Co online to get involved with the 100YR Cleanup. ■

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