Lefteris Arapakis, from a long line of fishers, witnessed first-hand the effects of overfishing and pollution on Greece’s fisheries. He founded Enaleia, Greece’s first professional fishing school, in 2016 with the aim of teaching fishers to ply their trade in a more eco-friendly manner and enlisting the help of the seafaring community to clean up the Mediterranean of plastic waste. Since its launch, Enaleia has collected more than 80 tonnes of plastic from the sea, and they work with 700 people on 145 boats from Greece and Italy, giving a monetary reward for the plastic they return to shore. This partnership with Healthy Seas, an organization based in the Netherlands, up-cycles fishing nets, the most common “catch,” into carpets, socks, masks, and other consumer products.
As a result of his efforts, Arapakis was named Europe’s Young Champion of the Earth by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The award provides seed funding and mentorship to promising environmentalists. Arapakis and his team continue to work towards their mission of making Greece’s fisheries more sustainable and reducing plastic waste in the Mediterranean.
I wanted to evoke a sense of nature, specifically water, and sand, to celebrate Lefteris Arapakis’ efforts to clean the ocean. Water embodies notions of purity and renewal, while sand represents the foundation, the base upon which existence is built. Together, they elicit contemplation on themes of impermanence, and the cyclical nature of life.
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