Trieu Huynh shares Project AWARE’s vision for a clean and healthy ocean and after seeing the effects litter was having on his home island of Bali and the outdoor environment he loves so much, Trieu wanted a way to make a difference every time he was out in the surf or at the beach. With the help of a friend, he created trshbg and now is on a mission to spread the word and get everyone in the water doing their bit to clean up the ocean - every surfer and diver an ocean cleaner.
What makes you passionate about ocean conservation?
My name is Trieu and I have a background in surfing, so I love being in and around the ocean. I am passionate about this beautiful planet we live on. She is everything. Think about it, if we would take her away, what do we have? She really is everything to us. So to me, it is not just a passion, it is a duty as well, to look after our home and to do something in return rather than just be selfish and only take. A trshbg-Tbag should be a required item and cleaning should be a must-do activity: to leave a place behind cleaner than how you found it.
Where did the idea for trshbg come from?
In December 2017, I arrived at my favorite beach in Bali for another day of surf. I couldn't believe my eyes. There was a trash island the size of half a football field floating by, just 80 meters from shore, 20 meters away from the surfers in the line-up. I couldn't let the image go and looked for a way to do both surfing and cleaning. What if we as surfers, who are out there anyway, could do something? There are plenty of us; we just need the right kit. There wasn't any, so I designed it myself. I went to my bag-making friend in Bali, who makes surf bags. We made the first prototype and gradually improved it simply by testing it for real. When we managed to make it from old banners and old tubes, I knew we had something that could really work. Trshbg was born. I made a video and it went viral, and the most excited people were divers. Since then, we have developed three types of bags based on feedback from divers and surfers. So besides two sizes of bags around the hip, we also have a Techbag for the lower leg, for Tech divers who have pocket shorts. Funnily enough, the bigger wave surfers really liked the Techbag, even though they were initially meant for divers. This is how these things go. You can't predict the outcome. It is all fine to me, I just want to make every diver and every surfer an ocean cleaner.
What is a trshbg made from?
trshbg is made from old banners and old inner tubes of scooters. We collect those, from dive schools and exhibitions, for example, and turn them into bags to clean the ocean. The mesh bags are made from rubber and have a cotton sleeve that keeps the caught trash inside. Right now, 80% of the bag is made from recycled materials.
Who can use a trshbg?
Everybody who does something in the outdoors can use the trshbg. The bags are optimized for diving and surfing. But any hiker, swimmer, fisherman should have one. We even tested for hula hooping, it is fine, totally hoopable :-). trshbg is made to wear on every dive or every surf, not just the cleaning ones. You never know when you are going to encounter trash. Professional coral transplantation divers even use two trshbgs, one for their tools, one for their trash.
What are three pieces of eco-advice you’d give people?
1. Do what you can. Nobody is holy and there are many, many issues to solve eco-wise, but you have to be realistic too. You can't fix everything yourself - but you can contribute. I think it is fine to pick your battles and do what you can. Everybody can clean, pick up pieces, reduce your own impact, while you are in nature. It is a super small effort and every little bit helps. Together we are seven billion people. Together we can do a lot if we all do something. Even a little bit, with all of us, we can make a difference. We can do this!
2. Stay optimistic. Very often I hear that it makes no sense to clean or to pick up that small amount of trash, as billions of kilos are produced every hour. We can not surrender to this kind of pessimism. It is just polluting people's motivation. It is not true that picking up a piece of litter is useless. Picking up an item of litter is extremely useful. You can save this fish, this turtle, this animal, this beach day, today and for now. And that is a win. Of course, there are so many battles out there. I can not talk to multinationals who produce plastic, but I can clean and when I clean, this piece of beach or ocean, this fish won't eat it, it is fine, for now. If I have to, I will clean again tomorrow, no problem. It is like our homes, we also clean regularly there. It is like our teeth, we brush multiple times a day. It helps to be optimistic and to appreciate effort and progress rather than only going for the full solution. We need both the "for now solution" and the "forever solution". Reality is, the forever solution, we just cannot stop plastic production or disposable goods overnight. It will take time. Until then, and even after then, we will have to clean and cleaning for sure satisfies the soul. It makes you feel good, it makes you feel happy, very satisfying and it helps. Our users who wear a trshbg, every dive and every surf, they pick up 10kg of trash per month, easily. With 1000 bags, we are cleaning with 10,000 kg per month. There are 7-9 million divers and 20-30 million surfers. Do the math, let's be optimistic and fix it. You can do something about it, it is not that hard. One piece at a time. Thank you for cleaning!
3. Keep them wild. Enjoy and respect nature. Be super careful not to bother wild animals and plants. It is mostly super stressful for wild animals to encounter humans. Please don't touch them, you don't want to be touched unasked either, let alone the fact that you can contaminate these animals with lethal infections. Admire them, respect them, love them and keep them wild.
Is there anything else you’d like to talk about?
Thank you Project AWARE for featuring us! Hopefully, every diver will wear something like a trshbg, by default. Then every diver truly is an ocean cleaner! Let's do this! Thank you!