22-year-old stops in Dayton on run across U.S. to fight ocean plastic

Sam Bencheghib is running across the US to raise awareness about the ocean plastic pollution epidemic. CONTRIBUTED / JOSHUA MADRE

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Sam Bencheghib is running across the US to raise awareness about the ocean plastic pollution epidemic. CONTRIBUTED / JOSHUA MADRE

A recent college graduate running 3,101 miles in up-cycled shoes, coast-to-coast, across the U.S. to raise awareness on ocean plastics pollution just made his way through Dayton.

Sam Bencheghib, a 22-year-old graduate from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Penn., said no idea is too crazy when the world is on a countdown to the year 2048 when there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean.

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Sam Bencheghib is running across the US to raise awareness about the epidemic of ocean plastic pollution. He is accompanied by videographer and childhood friend, Joshua Madre.

Credit: Sarah Franks

Sam Bencheghib is running across the US to raise awareness about the epidemic of ocean plastic pollution. He is accompanied by videographer and childhood friend, Joshua Madre.

Credit: Sarah Franks

Combined ShapeCaption
Sam Bencheghib is running across the US to raise awareness about the epidemic of ocean plastic pollution. He is accompanied by videographer and childhood friend, Joshua Madre.

Credit: Sarah Franks

Credit: Sarah Franks

The journey began in New York City in Battery Park on July 26 and is scheduled to finish six months later in Santa Monica, Calif. When Bencheghib arrived in Dayton late Sunday night on day 40, he said his original plan to run 20 miles a day has been bumped up to about a marathon a day. The young activist is running alone, however, he is being followed in an RV by videographer and childhood friend, Joshua Madre. Along the way, Bencheghib’s mission is to get into as many recycling facilities, college campuses and government offices to make his case — including the Montgomery County Solid Waste Transfer Facility, visiting with County Commissioner Carolyn Rice and John Minear from Waste Management.

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22-year-old Sam Bencheghib stopped in Dayton on his run across the US to fight ocean plastic. STAFF PHOTO / SARAH FRANKS

22-year-old Sam Bencheghib stopped in Dayton on his run across the US to fight ocean plastic. STAFF PHOTO / SARAH FRANKS

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22-year-old Sam Bencheghib stopped in Dayton on his run across the US to fight ocean plastic. STAFF PHOTO / SARAH FRANKS

“Because we’re running through 13 U.S. states, 11 of them not being by the ocean, it’s super important to make people understand that you don’t have to live by the ocean to contribute to the problem,” Bencheghib said.

Bencheghib’s fight for sustainability began years ago as a young environmentalist when he and his brother, Gary Bencheghib, began organizing beach cleanups in Bali in their home country of Indonesia. Their parents moved to Bali from Paris when Sam was 7 years old. A video the brothers shot in 2017 while on a trip down the notoriously polluted Citarum River in Indonesia went viral, leading to an official response from Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

“Gary, you will see that Citarum River, in seven years, will be the cleanest river,” Widodo said. Bencheghib said today, 7,000 members of the Indonesian military are a part of the Citarum cleanup effort.

People can follow Bencheghib on his journey at https://makeachange.world.

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