Wearing Ocean Plastic On Your Face And Keeping Some In Your Pocket (Or Purse)

Two organizations that focus on cleaning up ocean plastic are hawking goods. The goods are made from ocean plastic, so that’s a … good thing. And potentially a clever gift for someone (or yourself).

You know the deal: Before it’s Halloween it’s already Christmas, and time for seasonal shopping. The folks at 4ocean, who have been selling bracelets to fund ocean cleanups around the world, recently introduced an iPhone case made from certified, recovered ocean plastic.

The folks at The Ocean Cleanup, who have weathered storms while trying to tackle the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (understandably, it’s an ambitious project) also are now selling their first product: sunglasses made from harvested plastic. Proceeds from both sales will go to further the groups’ causes. Be sure to mention that if you give them as gifts (or sport them yourself); it’s a great conversation starter.

The Sunglasses

Boyan Slat, the young Dutch inventor behind The Ocean Cleanup project, unveiled the sunglasses at an event in late October.

The blue sunglasses are made from plastic removed from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch during operations in 2019.

“Designed in California by Yves Béhar and made in Italy by Safilo – this is probably the most stylish way you can help rid the oceans of plastic,” the nonprofit says on its website. “And, should the time come, they’ve been designed to be easily recycled.”

The specs will set you back $199, with 100% of the proceeds going toward the continuation of the cleanup. The group estimates it can clean an area equivalent to 24 football fields of the patch by selling just one pair of sunglasses at that price.

The iPhone Case

Speaking of what money can buy, 4ocean has (from the start) pledged to remove one pound of trash from the oceans for every product purchased.

They started with $20 bracelets and have pulled more than 11 million pounds to date, including cleanups in rivers and along coastlines. While The Ocean Cleanup is a nonprofit foundation, 4ocean is a public benefit corporation that has been selling wares (like the bracelets made with post-consumer recycled materials and about 5% ocean plastic) and using the money to hire crews to remove plastic from the ocean. The new iPhone case is billed as “the first of many new innovative products made from their certified, recovered ocean plastic.”

The $50 iPhone case is made from what the company calls “4ocean Plastic,” a material created by upcycling the certified ocean plastic recovered by 4ocean cleanup crews. It comes with the same one-pound promise.

The Problem

These sunglasses and iPhone cases of course aren’t the solution to trash floating in, with still more flowing in, to our oceans. But the 4ocean and Ocean Cleanup products can build some vital awareness (and fund more substantial cleanups).

A recent report in the journal Science Advances looked at the origins of 300 million tons of plastic trash that are produced annually, at least 8.8 million tons of which end up in the ocean. Researchers found that U.S. residents were as high as No. 3 in the world in terms of plastic waste produced per person, generating an average of 231 pounds per year.

“For some time, it has been cheaper for the United States to ship its recyclables abroad rather than handle them here at home, but that has come at great cost to our environment,” Natalie Starr, principal at DSM Environmental Services and a co-author of the study said in an Ocean Conservancy news release.

“We need to change the math by investing in recycling technologies and collection programs, as well as accelerating research and development to improve the performance and drive down the costs of more sustainable plastics and packaging alternatives to address the current challenge.”

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