Now there’s no denying plastic is not a good thing.
Plastic is the most abundant type of litter in our oceans. By 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans that fish. At least 14 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year – the equivalent of dumping a garbage truck full to the brim every single minute. Plastic makes up 80% of all marine debris found from surface waters to deep-sea sediment. A large proportion of this plastic pollution is single use items like plastic bags, packaging and bottles.
And by the nature of the oceans tides, once it’s in, it’s spread far and wide. Some will be swept along coastlines, but a large amount ends up anywhere and everywhere, tangled in coral, in the bellies of marine wildlife, and clogging up the ocean floor - a plastic bag has even been found at 36,000 feet in the Marina Trench.
There are so many reasons why this is a problem.
Marine species ingest or are entangled by plastic debris, causing severe injuries and death. Plastic pollution threatens food safety, quality, and human health. Not least because when fish and sea life ingest plastic it breaks down inside their bodies and is then consumed by us humans when we eat seafood. These plastic toxins are linked to hormonal and developmental issues. The sheer volume of litter threatens coastal tourism, whilst production and disposal contribute to climate change.
Plastic is especially lethal to coral reef systems. Healthy coral reefs are the nurseries of the underwater world, nurturing an extraordinary array of living organisms. They protect over 150,000 km of shoreline in 100 countries and territories, safeguarding coastal communities from heavy storm surges, winds and waves. A recent study found that when corals come into contact with plastic, the likelihood of disease increases from 4 percent to 90 percent. Considering the level of plastic in the oceans, this puts our coral reefs under extreme threat.
So what can we do?
Now, there is the geopolitical route – further strategies and laws to protect our oceans from plastic are being negotiated and will be enforced on a country and global level.
But what can the average consumer do?
Returning to the opening statement, plastic is bad. Avoid buying groceries wrapped in plastic, bring a reusable tote to the shops with you, and carry a refillable water bottle – try using refillable beauty products too. Avoid it where you can, recycle it where you can’t, and look out for products made from recycled plastic where possible.
There are incredible technologies now that allow us to take plastic that’s been dumped and turn it into something beautiful, cleaning up our oceans along the way.
Over the last few years we have been looking into how we can contribute to this growing challenge of plastic, and what we can do to repurpose some of the plastic already on our planet. We launched our first waterproof coat with a lining made from recycled PET in 2017, and since then we have massively expanded the recycled collection. We now use recycled PET and nylon in bags, underwear, knitwear, jackets and coats, and we offer a Guppy bag to wash your recycled clothes in, to catch any microfibres that might be released when washing. And we hope that by committing to this we encourage other brands to do the same. There’s no place for virgin plastics in fashion. But buying recycled plastics can help clean up the mess.
Explore the recycled collection