Camille Kostek’s happy place is by the ocean. “I play the sound of ocean waves every night because it puts me at ease and sends me off to sleep, but it’s also where I escape to feel cleansed and energized,” she says. “In and by the ocean is where I’ve spent all of my memorable moments with SI Swimsuit, the place I heal physical wounds and my internal self emotionally.” For someone who has this deep appreciation for water, it was disheartening for her to see so much garbage piled up along the shoreline of Connecticut, where she grew up and spent much of the pandemic.
The SI Swimsuit model, currently returning for her fifth year in the magazine, took it upon herself to pick up plastic and any other debris day in and day out to ensure the beaches stayed clear. The unfortunate reality is that this is a problem all over the world, which is why Kostek wanted to become involved in something that would tackle this issue on a larger scale.
A bumper sticker and a direct message led Kostek to 4ocean. “I was on a ferry from Montauk back to Connecticut. There was a car in front of me with a bumper sticker on it that said 4ocean,” she explains. “When I went to look it up, I saw that they were cleaning up millions of pounds of trash from oceans all over the world. I went to send them a direct message through Instagram, and they had reached out to me three months prior asking if I wanted to advocate for them and join their team.” It just so happened that the message had fallen through the cracks and Kostek had never seen it.
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After a conversation with 4ocean founder Tim Binder, Kostek was ready to dive in. “There’s life out there in the ocean that can't speak for itself,” she says. “What’s so amazing is that they’ve cleaned up over 13 million tons of trash. All around the world, they have cleanup crews in Haiti and Bali and Guatemala and on the shores of south Florida. And I’m very, very happy to be a part of it.”
Aside from volunteering to be a part of the cleanup crew, there are plenty of ways people can contribute to the 4ocean cause. “They have the most beautiful jewelry, beautiful bracelets, phone cases, water bottles, hats and T-shirts that are all made from the cleanup that they’ve collected from the ocean,” Kostek shares. “Everything that you buy goes back to all of the cleanup crew workers so that they can feed their families, too.”
With over 70 percent of Earth being covered by water, this mission to collect and gather the endless amounts of trash could seem daunting, but it’s the dedication of the full-time cleanup crews and volunteers that give the 30-year-old ambassador hope for a cleaner planet. “It’s so sad to see how much is out there in the ocean, but it’s so beautiful to see that these people are doing what they can and make an impact,” she says.