Lefteris Arapakis


Regional Winner, Europe

Mediterranean CleanUp

Summary of Big Idea

Mediterranean fish stocks have been steadily declining with fisherman pulling up plastic in their nets instead. Our idea relates to a wide-scale clean-up of the Mediterranean maritime ecosystem, utilizing a network of fishermen, and the responsible management of the collected waste into the circular economy. We train, empower and incentivise old & new fishermen to collect plastic from the sea - allowing both fish stocks and the ecosystem to recover, while providing a source of income from plastic brought to shore. We focus not only in ocean waste cleanups, but in ocean waste management as well (recycling & upcycling), collaborating with companies to create high quality products such as t-shirts and socks from ocean waste, while at the same time reducing the C02 emissions needed to create these products. In this way, we have created a large-scale, effective, and efficient plastic clean up operation, currently removing more than 1.5 tonnes of marine plastic weekly, and 10 tonnes of discarded fishing gear per year, while making it scalable through working with fishing communities around the globe. Our idea impacts fishing communities in multiple ways:

  1. It reduces poverty by providing an alternative income for these small-scale fishermen, through the stipend they receive for the plastic they haul;
  2. It will enhance the water condition in these locations, which can create a boost in ecotourism;
  3. In addition, the “fishing fields” will become plastic free and the ecosystem restored, leading to an increase of fish stocks over the years and therefore a sustainable increase in income for these fishermen long-term;



Lefteris co-founded Enaleia because he wanted to do something about the Greek economic crisis and the climate crisis. Enaleia has created the first school for professional fishing in Greece and a wide-scale plastic clean up, the Mediterranean CleanUp, through working with fishermen. Lefteris selected to act through the fishing sector because his family have been fishermen for 5 generations. He is a graduate of the Athens University of Economics and Business, a TEDx speaker and an Ashoka Changemaker. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, reading, playing with his dog, and performing improv theatre.

Lefteris Arapakis's Bio

26 years

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