There are more than five trillion pieces of rubbish in our ocean, and that’s not counting the waste found in our rivers, lakes and other natural habitats.

Martin encourages athletes to be a friend to nature by collecting rubbish when you are outside and by using your voice to raise awareness of the problem.

Check out the “How “How to be a Sustainable Champion” guide to find out other ways you can make a difference.


The crowdfunding campaign really took off, and now we have regular Sunday clean-ups in different places around Oslo.

Martin Helseth

Freediving is my favourite hobby besides rowing, and I like to go fishing. But I was starting to witness lots of rubbish in the water and it ruined the experience, so I made a rule for myself: every time I go out fishing, I will always bring more rubbish to the shore than fish. The amount of rubbish compared to fish was gradually increasing, so I just started to go out to collect rubbish instead.

Look closer

When you walk along the beach you can see rubbish floating on the water, but the real problem is on the beds of the sea, rivers and lakes. Around 96% of all rubbish sinks to the bottom of the water, so it’s a real mess down there.

If I’m diving near a place close to lots of human activity, I discover lots of household rubbish and food and drink containers. If I’m in a more remote place, I typically find remains from the fishing industry. A couple of weeks ago I found a ghost fishing net that took me four hours to bring to shore!


Athletes who want to get involved in similar projects can start at a local level. If you are outdoors doing sport it’s easy to pick up some rubbish along the way.

Martin Helseth

Think outside the box

When the pandemic halted my training for the Tokyo Olympics, I went out to freedive more. I set a challenge that for every kilo of rubbish I collect I would take a picture of it and encourage people to donate a small amount of money. I ended up collecting seven tonnes of plastic waste throughout that summer.

The crowdfunding campaign really took off, and now we have regular Sunday clean-ups in different places around Oslo.

Find out more about Martin’s work as an EU Climate Ambassador

Start local

Athletes who want to get involved in similar projects can start at a local level. If you are outdoors doing sport it’s easy to pick up some rubbish along the way. Then you can look into clean-ups around local clubs and speak up on the issue.

The best thing that could happen is for people to stop littering and to dispose of their waste properly. My main message is: make sure you put your rubbish properly in a bin so I can spend more time preparing for the Olympics, rather than putting on my wetsuit to pick it up from the seabed for you.

You can be a Sustainability Champion like Martin, too. Download the guide here to find out how you can get involved.