The Hidden Sea and ReSea Project’s Clean Ocean Mission

Based on South Australia’s Limestone Coast, this wine company has a global vision

From cleared old-growth forests to gaping caverns caused by strip-mining, the scars of humans’ exploitative relationship with Earth are on full display across the planet—yet one insidious issue has been building for decades deep underwater. Since single-use plastics made their way into mainstream circulation in the mid-20th century, more than 100 million tons have ended up in the ocean, killing countless animals and forcing vulnerable communities across the globe to live with mountains of garbage on their doorstep. Though the situation may seem hopeless, there are organizations and individuals working to combat the issue—and for wine company The Hidden Sea, the key to preserving the health of the ocean stems from the humble grape.

Operating on South Australia’s Limestone Coast, The Hidden Sea has promised to capture and recycle the equivalent of 10 plastic water bottles for every bottle of wine sold, embracing ocean conservation as a core tenant of their business. “Plastic is choking our ocean,” says co-founder Justin Moran. “The ocean produces 50% of the air we breathe, absorbs 25% of CO2 emissions, is home to more than 80% of life on earth and it is estimated that about 600 million livelihoods depend at least partially on fisheries and aquaculture. We need to protect what remains.”

Courtesy of The Hidden Sea

While it may seem unconventional for a wine brand, The Hidden Sea’s ties to the ocean are central to the company because of its location. Eons ago, South Australia’s Limestone Coast was covered in a vast sea, with ancient mollusks, fish, whales and other wildlife thriving within its waters. Fast forward millions of years and the now-exposed ocean floor is a haven for vintners, equipped with fertile, alluvial soil that’s particularly suitable for growing grapes.

The long-lasting legacy of South Australia’s bygone sea has been pivotal to the success of The Hidden Sea and today, the company seeks to protect the planet’s oceans. Since July 2020, the brand has funded the removal of roughly 18,800,000 plastic bottles from the ocean, with a lofty goal of a billion bottles removed by 2030—and while it’s certainly a massive undertaking, they aren’t acting alone.

Courtesy of ReSea

The Hidden Sea’s chief partner in the clean-up operation is ReSea Project, a Danish organization that utilizes state-of-the-art technology to clean Java, Indonesia’s most polluted waterways. During morning hours, local employees set off along the river to collect discarded plastic, recording the weight of each individual piece in the ReSea blockchain system. Once collected, bags of waste are shipped to a local sorting facility and ultimately sent out to ReSea’s partners to be recycled or converted into energy. Since January 2021, more than 2,000 tons of plastic have been plucked from the waters around Indonesia—and while there’s still far more work to be done, Jakarta residents have begun to notice a striking difference.

Anam, Operation Manager in Dadap, image courtesy of Jared Ranahan

“It’s far cleaner than before,” says Anam, ReSea Operation Manager in Dadap, a heavily polluted fishing village found just east of Soekarno–Hatta International Airport in West Java. “If you were here two years ago, oh my gosh—you wouldn’t even see the water. You couldn’t see the surface, only plastic cartons and other waste.” Since 2019, Anam has seen the fleet of plastic collectors grow from just five employees to 22, and while challenging cultural norms is a slow process, he finds that there’s an increased interest in environmental preservation amongst Dadap residents since ReSea’s arrival in the community.

Courtesy of The Hidden Sea

While there’s no shortage of environmental issues wreaking havoc on humanity today, the health of the ocean is far too important to be ignored. From tiny zooplankton to the massive blue whale, every creature is crucial to the ecosystem. While a plastic-free ocean will likely take decades of coordinated effort to complete, each insurmountable task begins with a single step, and for a particularly simple and tasty approach, there’s a bottle of The Hidden Sea wine.

Hero image courtesy of ReSea