A spark … underwater

I know what you’re thinking — is she talking about the magic of Spongebob Squarepants? Unfortunately, not this time (but feel free to ask me otherwise, I still wonder why the French call him “Bob l’éponge” = Bob the Sponge?) — this time it’s only about how the idea of Ministry of Waste (MoW) was born.

Have you ever looked back at your life and thought — a lot of things had to come together, in that particular order, for me to be here today? That would be the feeling I have on an almost daily basis, but without getting too sentimental and starting to write my autobiography at the age of 30+, I’d like to share that exact moment which sparked the life of MoW.

The idea of my own enterprise was born 11 years ago and has been nurtured since with thousands of ideas sparking and consequently annoying my family and friends. To a point where my housemates started to call them “Sam’s idea of the day”. I love seeing problems and trying to come up with solutions — I’d even go as far as saying it’s my favourite hobby (I even have test results that can prove it). As well as connecting the dots across very large pictures and systems is another of my beloved pass times.

Fast forward to summer of 2015, I’m sitting in one of the quirkiest bars in Toulouse, France (“dAdA” — check it out) with my friend Julien sipping wine and we enter this deep conversation about dreams. He tells me how he’d like to break out of his IT job and become a filmmaker, but for this, he needs to make ONE big movie. So we make a pact and he makes a plan — 9 months later Julien, myself and 9 other amazing humans fly to The Philippines for a month to co-participate in his new documentary — “Free to Dive”, the first movie about the foundations of freediving, which might as well change everyone’s life. If only I had known how much it will change mine! [stick with me here, it will all make sense at the end, I promise!]

The side-effects of diving all day | My palm with a teeny tiny little crab | The 4 characters of the movie at the end of the filming

The filming took place in different parts of The Philippines, sometimes in very remote beaches with nothing except crabs in sight (there you go, I mentioned crabs because I like them). And then something happened that shocked and shook me to the core — on one of the first filming days a strong tide was coming in, and with it — mountains and mountains of trash. Plastic trash — bags, cups, packaging, you name it — it was there. And turtles, they were there too! But how is this possible? How did this happen?

We had to stop filming for that moment and this continued to happen again during our trip. All of us, shaken and pondering about what we had seen, decided to do beach cleanups quite regularly on our trip, as it felt like the least we could do to help the situation, while most locals looked at us as if we were completely out of our minds. Little did we know that the trash we collected had nowhere to go anyways

These pictures don’t do justice to the global problem but are a good first insight.

We wrapped up the filming and the crew members boarded their respective flights back home, I jumped on the one heading for London, UK — my new home for the next 1.5 years. But once back, a strange thought just didn’t stop nagging, “But what about all that trash?”.

I am thousands of miles away and it really isn’t “my problem” — one side of my mind was argumenting back. And what do you know about trash or plastic anyways? Nada. There you go, that’s your answer, now stop! Go and recycle your own trash, that’s the best you can do.

(Have you noticed how mean my own brain is to me?)
Then from thoughts, it turned into quite vivid dreams or should I call them nightmares? And I said to myself that I could at least give it a shot — who knows what comes out of it? If you continue reading our future stories you’ll find out the rest of this rollercoaster journey — you are welcome to join us!

— Sam

p.s. Julien is now a full-time filmmaker (never give up on your dreams!) and if you’re curious what this thing called “freediving” is — the documentary is available here:

And just in case you are still wondering:

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