While shooting Discovery Channel’s #1 show Naked and Afraid in the Maldives, I was overwhelmingly shocked by the amount of plastic trash covering the uninhabited, picturesque island. This was only one island, and I couldn’t bear to imagine what the other 1,200 islands looked like, covered in trash. To leave the island, we actually made a raft out of bottles. As we paddled to our rescue boat, I swore I would come back and do something about the plastic pollution.
After returning from an “Everest of survival challenges” living with nothing for 21 days, I devoured a chocolate bar and took a much-needed shower. My first thought was, “How can I help transform plastic waste around the world into usable items?” The scariest thought was that only a portion of the plastic trash came from the inhabited islands. It was also coming to the islands from other countries brought by the ocean’s currents.
Over a year later, I returned to the Maldives, hosted by Shaahina Ali and accompanied by photographers and videographers Sarah Lee and Mark Tipple. Together we set off on a wild adventure back to the island wearing clothing made from recycled plastic bottles by a company called Repreve that transforms plastic into usable thread for world-renowned brands like Patagonia, Odina, Teeki, Volcom and Roxy. My surfboards are eco-friendly too and are Sustainable Surf-approved, made from recycled styrofoam.