The Clean Wave: Plastic pollution solutions for coastal Costa Rica

June 12, 2024

By: KM Collins

Actively encroaching on marine habitat, worldwide, 381 million tons of plastic waste is produced annually. Andrés Bermúdez Bermúdez, president and CEO ofThe Clean Wavenonprofit is passionate about finding ways to protect oceans from this environmental menace. Although Bermúdezs’The Clean Wave was first put into action in his native backyard of coastal Costa Rica, with a laser focus on plastic pollution solutions,The Clean Wave,like any good beach surf, has since crashed and spilled over into so much more. 

The Clean Wave’s inception burgeoned the simple task of removing discarded plastic drinking containers from the roots of brackish Mangrove forests on the perimeter ofParque Nacional Marino Las Baulas, or Leatherback Turtle National Park, on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. Bermúdez shares that trash dumped in local rivers and hotelier water waste/treatment outlets on the edge (or perhaps even within the outer flanks) of the national park leads to a need for vigilant removal efforts. “We often find trash where the tides converge among other locations,” explains Bermúdez. 

To aid in the Mangrove Restoration Initiative and front line plastic pollution battle,Eddyline Kayaks donated fourCaribbean 10s. Bermúdez says with the help of these vessels,The Clean Wave has gained way better access to the Mangroves and their maze of water trails. Bermúdez also noted that Eddyline was instrumental in helping with a sponsorship fromAquabound for kayak paddles andKokatat for personal flotation devices or life jackets. “This is literally the best paddle gear on the market,” expressed Bermúdez, “now the entire community can participate in shifts of restoration around the clock, which is what it will take.” 

One angle Bermúdez wants to track and protect with future Citizen Science is the health of Mangrove forests for the sake of Hammerhead Sharks. Mangrove habitat is where they lay their eggs and juveniles learn to hunt.

Bermúdez is looking forward to the expansion of restoration initiatives the Eddyline Caribbean 10s will allow including citizen science-based data collection by way of water testing kits. One extension of Mangrove initiatives that is more recently underway is tree nursery germination of tropical dry forest Mangroves. “We want to bring back harmony to this marinescape through small actions.” 

You won’t findThe Clean Wave’s origin story anywhere on their website. Instead, the bylines and editorial are filled with calls to action and opportunities to participate in eco-restoration. But if you're looking for the background scoop on The Clean Wave’s formation, it started with the wholesome act of surfing and photography. Bermúdez and his roommate, Juan Arias loved these hobbies but didn’t love the trash they would encounter while engaging in them.And with that,The Clean Wavewas born. 

Today all initiatives byThe Clean Wave fall into eight categories; Underwater Restoration, Mangroves, Beach Restoration, Forest Restoration, City Restoration, Education, Community Revitalization and Zero Waste. Currently 65 separate projects are underway, worldwide. 

If you are a sponsor looking to contribute to The Clean Wave Initiative, Bermúdez is currently seeking donations in the form of first aid kits, Epi Pins and a consistent and steady source of water testing kits for ongoing data collection. These supplies are harder to get ahold of in Costa Rica, though readily available in the United States. There are also many opportunities to supportThe Clean Wave throughmonetary donations andvolunteering