Going “green” has gone mainstream, with global brands like Starbucks working to eliminate single-use plastic through measures like eliminating plastic straws or encouraging reusable cup use.
However, plastic has already reshaped our planet in big ways, filling up waterways and beaches with literal tons of single-use plastics. Just reducing or eliminating new plastic waste is only one step in the solution. Thankfully, there are many brands and organizations that are taking “eco-conscious” to a whole new level by rolling up their sleeves and tackling plastic pollution from both sides. First, by eliminating plastic waste in their products, and second, by organizing programs to clean up the plastic that is already choking local ecosystems and our vast oceans.
Take a look at some of these brands and how they’re approaching one of the biggest ecological crisis of our generation.
4Ocean is a clothing and jewelry brand that uses the proceeds from their product line sales to fund beach cleanup operations across the globe. These products include everything from “sustainability starter kits” with reusable bags, bottles, and straws, to fashionable jewelry and apparel.
For each item purchased on the site, they are dedicated to pulling one pound of trash from oceans and beaches. They also have a closed-loop system for their products. When one of their products reaches the end of its life with a customer, it can be mailed back to 4Ocean for proper recycling and re-use.
The Ocean Cleanup
The Ocean Cleanup is a registered non-profit that is dedicated to tackling the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, one of the largest gyres of trash floating in our oceans. To accomplish this mission, they are developing cleanup systems to stop trash from continuing to flow into the oceans while actively sending cleanup crews out to the garbage patch and removing tons of waste from the ocean itself.
They then look for ways to use this waste and convert it into sustainable products, like their newly-launched sunglasses.
Restoring Integrity to the Oceans (RIO)
RIO takes the methods of the two prior methods, and then goes one step further. First, they produce a line of sustainable, reusable products that encourage people to eliminate single-use plastics AND harmful paper products in their lives.
They then use the proceeds from these sales to fund cleanup efforts across the globe. They have launched a wide variety of projects to not only rid the ocean of plastics, but to stop the plastic from getting there in the first place. From devices that intercept plastic in rivers to prevent it from traveling to the ocean, to cleaning up the worlds most polluted beaches and oceans using teams of dedicated volunteers in some of the largest cleanup events in history.
What makes RIO unique is that they are working to get to the heart of the problem by working with local governments to address the bigger issues behind plastic pollution. Right now, we have too much plastic and inadequate facilities with which to recycle and reuse it. Creating a circular plastic economy means not just reducing plastic production, but building a better infrastructure to recycle the plastic we do use and produce.
Brands like RIO acknowledge that cleaning up our oceans is more than just selling reusable straws and running a few cleanup events. It is about changing our relationship with plastic from the ground-up and getting everyone from consumers to government leaders involved in the cause of creating a sustainable relationship with our environment and the things we produce.
A circular plastic economy is the only way that we will be able to tackle the problem of plastic waste once and for all, and it requires the efforts of everyone to make it happen. Thankfully, for consumers, that can be a simple as just buying your toilet paper from a sustainable brand.
You can help stop plastic pollution in our oceans by purchasing products from companies dedicated to producing plastic-free, sustainable products. RIO not only helps you stock up on sustainable goods, but is also dedicated to using the proceeds to rid our oceans of plastic once and for all.