Instead of following the post-graduate cookie cutter plan, Sam Bencheghib, a recent graduate of Lehigh University, will start running from New York to Los Angeles on July 26 to raise awareness about plastic pollution and teach people that just because they don’t live by an ocean, doesn’t mean their trash won’t end up there.
“You might not feel your trash is having an effect on the ocean, but really you’re just fortunate you live in a developed country that has waste management that picks it up. Out of sight, out of mind,” Sam told FinalStraw.
This isn’t the first time Sam has done something big in the name of plastic pollution.
Having grown up in Indonesia, Sam saw first-hand how devastating plastic pollution is for the oceans. From a young age, he and his brother, Gary, and sister, Kelly, cleaned up beaches every weekend. Then, in 2017, he and Gary descended one of the most polluted rivers in the world⏤the Citarum River in Indonesia⏤in kayaks made from plastic bottles.
Photo courtesy Sam Bencheghib (via Instagram @sambencheghib)
Their trip and short video series captured people’s attention⏤even Indonesia’s President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who made a commitment to clean up the river in approximately seven years.
“I’ve always been passionate about the environment, but also about adventure,” Sam said.
As he runs across the US, he’ll be stopping to talk to students at as many schools and universities as he can about how to eliminate single-use plastic from their lives. He’ll also be meeting with local municipalities to ask them to sign a no single-use plastic pledge.
Sam hopes his run will be just as influential as the trip down the river. He hopes it helps people realize that it’s time for a solution.
While running approximately 3,100 miles over the course of six months, he’ll be accompanied by an RV and a cameraman. He and his siblings have plans to tell the story of the run in a documentary they’re creating for their media organization, Make a Change World, that tells stories about sustainability.