By Joe McFarlane
Two environmentally conscious divers have dedicated their free time to cleaning the lakes of Sweden by removing plastic from as far as Russia.
Dennis Hägg and Filip Blenström are two young 25-year-olds who have combined their love of free diving and the environment together in a selfless and heroic way.
The pair, from Mölndal, travel far and wide to dive into the deep lakes of Landvettersjön, Delsjön, Sisjön and many more, with the purpose of removing as much discarded plastic, trash and garbage from the beautiful lakes as possible.
The divers began their crusade by discovering the lakes they wanted to plunge into had been left in disgusting conditions after years, and in some cases, decades of plastic pollution.
Dennis said: “The strangest thing we’ve found might be a refrigerator door from Russia.
“We first started cleaning when we were at a place in Gothenburg called Sisjön.
“We were there to free dive but were devastated by the condition of the lake.
“From then on we kept cleaning local beaches and lakes because we just loved how the seafloor looked without all the traces of us humans.
“Not only do they look better, but with the trash gone, the lakes thrive.”
The variety of trash the pair have found is staggering, from credit cards to license plates, to garbage that has travelled from as far as Russia and ironically even plastic Patrick the Starfish toys.
Some of the rubbish the two clean up even borders on being antique with some trash being dated back to the 80’s.
Dennis said: “Once we found a liqueur bottle, without a lid. It was a really old bottle from the 80s.
“We found this in the ocean. We concluded that the name of the company who manufactured the bottle quit being in business in 1989.
“The funny thing is that a few weeks later, at a lake far from this place, we found the exact same missing lid, with the name of the company written on it.
“We saved this bottle with its lid and often think of it as a funny story.”
But the enormous task of cleaning the lakes doesn’t deter the Swedes.
Dennis said: “In a well-populated area, we’ll find between 15-50 kg per session, sometimes even more.
“Sometimes we go to a random place and dive, but we still always find trash. To clean an entire lake takes several sessions.”
And the length of time the environmentalists have dedicated to help clean up the lakes is nothing short of impressive.
Dennis said: “We are normally in the water for 45-70 minutes depending on the state of the area. Then we spend about 30 minutes sifting through the trash and sorting it in piles for what is to be recycled.
“After that we carry our equipment and the trash collected and sort it to be transported to a recycling station. In Its entirety a session takes between five to eight hours.”
Regardless of the mountains of trash the diving heroes find, they don’t allow the shocking numbers deter them from their noble mission.
Dennis said “Whenever we return to an area that we have cleaned we see a lot more creatures living there than before.
“We want to enlighten people to the problem as well as create a following so that we may be able to do this even more.”