Curated by Evi Lazou
...Evi knows firsthand both the challenges and the rewards that marine clean-up activities entail...
For Evi Lazou the fight against marine pollution is not just about the environmental protection and human health, it’s also a fight for aesthetics and the protection of our heritage. As Chairman of the A.C. Laskaridis Charitable Foundation, an Athens-based, non-profit organization that primarily focuses on protecting the sea in and around Greece, Evi knows firsthand both the challenges and the rewards that marine clean-up activities entail. Managing and funding a wide range of programs, from cleaning inaccessible shores with the help of a state-of-the-art vessel, to supporting initiatives to ban single-use plastics, to raising awareness among local communities, the Foundation’s multi-layered approach to marine protection and awareness has evolved in recognition that lasting change is both hard and slow-paced. In this spirit, Evi’s philanthropic work is not limited to her involvement with ACLCF, she’s also a founding partner and board member of The People's Trust, an organization that provides business development services and micro-funding to start-ups and small, existing businesses in Greece, as well as one of the founding partners of Greenwood Place, a community of strategic philanthropists. We recently caught up with Evi, who currently lives in London with her partner and young son, to ask her about the Foundation’s activities, her passion for marine protection, and the things closest to her heart.
How would you define yourself in three words?
Persistent, Patient, Passionate.
A project/initiative you’re most proud of?
The “Typhoon Project”, an initiative of the Athanasios C. Laskaridis Charitable Foundation for the preservation of the marine environment. Its aim is to contribute decisively towards the cleaning of remote Greek shores from all kinds of litter, with the help of scientists and volunteers. A state-of-the-art 72 m. long vessel, the Typhoon operates year-round protecting the sea and coasts of Greece from marine pollution.
Your idea of happiness?
Health, safety, sufficient sleep, love and companionship, gratefulness and giving back.
Which colours are you currently enamoured of?
Blue in all its tones and hues is and has always been my favourite colour.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
From engaging conversations with my team and following the work of visionaries such as Cyrill Gutsch (Parley for the Oceans) and Ellen MacArthur (The Ellen MacArthur Foundation).
What quote do you live by?
“If you can't, you must and if you must, you can” by Tony Robbins. I heard it recently but It totally resonates with me.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
What do you miss most when travelling?
Those loved ones (friends or family) who are not with me to share the experience.
What is your most treasured possession?
Letters from my loved one.
Favourite destination and hotel?
Lucknam Park Hotel - Spa Estate near Bath, UK. Our family's favorite weekend escape. Peaceful, elegant, lovely UK countryside.
What is your guilty pleasure?
The best macaroons in town by Chef Patissier Arnaud Larher at the Roof Garden restaurant of the Grande Bretagne Hotel Athens. If I start, it’s difficult to stop. Enjoying them with breathtaking views of the Acropolis is the ultimate indulgence.
Your latest discovery?
The X3 bar, a compact gym you can take everywhere with you and you can exercise your whole body with no more than 10 minutes of effort per day.
What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done in your life?
Kite flying and flyboarding. I still have Sky Diving on my bucket list which I plan to try it with my son when he turns 18. Fingers crossed!
What is on your bookshelf?
Currently reading “Weight Lifting Is a Waste of Time: So Is Cardio” by Dr. John Jaquish & Henry Alkire.
What does environmental protection mean for you?
Environmental protection is simple to grasp as a notion and need, yet hard to implement. It has its roots in a new outlook on nature, aesthetics, health, the economy and our personal and collective well-being. Interestingly, in the 21st century we tend to “reinvent” sustainability, which has been the backbone of human existence for centuries: care for nature, respect for resources and an emphasis on reuse.
Why did you choose to focus on marine pollution?
The sea has played a key role in Greek life, economy, history and myth. It is always there. In recent years, its health has been undermined by extensive pollution, overfishing and overall neglect. The fight of marine pollution is essentially a fight for aesthetics, the protection of our heritage and human health.
What kind of projects does A.C. Laskaridis Charitable Foundation engage in?
The A.C. Laskaridis Charitable Foundation designs and implements its own programs and also supports other organizations’ programs in areas related with its main interests. Marine protection, employment, heritage, education and transparency are our primary areas of focus. Regardless of their specific aims, all of our programs highlight our desire to increase impact, promote collaboration and serve as a catalyst in the Greek philanthropy ecosystem.
How demanding is coastal and underwater cleaning?
Coastal cleaning can be undertaken by each one of us, literally. Many of us do it on the shore, as individuals or families, and many organizations include it among their typical activities. Our Foundation takes cleanups several steps further as, thanks to the Typhoon, we can perform large-scale cleanups and visit inaccessible areas that cannot be approached by most organizations. On the other hand, underwater cleanups are more complex in planning and more demanding in terms of resources, but we have made them part of our activities in order to have a better overview of marine pollution in Greece. We proudly work with several teams of divers who share our passion for cleaning the Greek sea.
What kind of impact do you envision a project like Typhoon to have?
We believe that the responsible use and management of our oceans is critical to the future of the world and Typhoon can help greatly in our aim to clean the entire Greek coastline, offering the concrete benefit of clean shores and at the same time spreading the message that we are all responsible for our environment and heritage. We believe that the Typhoon is a game-changer on environmental protection and awareness.
How important is raising awareness about sea pollution?
Research worldwide highlights the importance of awareness in fighting marine pollution. We corroborate this daily in the field, when we work with schoolchildren, volunteers and teams of local people in our areas of intervention. This is why we have invested in a multi-layered approach to marine protection, starting with cleanups and moving on to education, citizen-science, awareness-raising activities and advocacy.