Eight million tons of plastic trash find their way into the world’s oceans every year. If this trend continues, there could be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050 according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Considerable action is required to avoid this fate, but more and more organizations are beginning to step up to the plate. Creative campaigns that seek to engage consumers through multi-media and innovative products are proving to be an effective way to reach and educate wide audiences quickly, accelerating the uptake of behaviors and actions that could spur meaningful change.
While many big-name brands, top advertising firms and global corporations struggle to engage consumers and communicate their sustainability stories, 23-year-old Daisy Kendrick’s nonprofit collective We Are the Oceans (WATO) — which aims to safeguard the planet by protecting the world’s oceans — is already making waves.
Kendrick launched the campaign group after working with the UN on a sustainable development mission to Grenada, an experience that demonstrated the interconnectedness between civilization and the world’s oceans and how pollution threatens that co-existence.
To tackle the growing issue of ocean plastics, WATO has been utilizing music, video games and social media campaigns to garner support from Millennials. The response has been overwhelming.
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Only eight months after its launch, the organization has already worked with recording artist Joss Stone to record the single, “We Are The Oceans,” which spotlights issues such as overfishing, marine pollution and climate change. WATO has also teamed up with global agency Instrumental to create a digital live aid collective in which global artists and top-tier influencers will record their own versions of the song and scored a partnership with the Vans Warped Tour. The US’s largest traveling music festival will allow WATO to present its message to an even larger audience — over 500,000 people attend Warped Tour every summer.
“There is a huge existing gaming audience with a lot of potential. Every day, mobile gamers are playing online but aren’t interacting with philanthropy or the oceans — businesses needed to discover how to reach this audience on their own terms. A lot of games have millions of people on their platforms and they can use the power of advertising and media in implementing a message or a game. People are being educated on a gaming site to become a reusable society,” said Kendrick.
In partnership with Angry Birds creator Rovio, WATO has developed two video games — Big Catch and Island Nation Defense. The former, which has already been played by three million players since its launch in April, sees players learn facts about ocean pollution as they navigate through plastic-ridden oceans. Island Nation Defense, on the other hand, challenges players to manage an island’s scarce resources in an effort to reduce CO2 levels and defend it from rising sea levels.
While public education and engagement is an important component of WATO’s work, Kendrick plans to extend the organization’s scope by working with technology companies to harness the power of blockchain to create completely transparent supply chains. WATO previously worked with fast fashion retailer H&M to promote its Bionic line to demonstrate its message.
Kendrick’s fresh perspective — and those like it — are critical for driving real change, but businesses need to take greater strides to engage younger generations on sustainability issues.
“Collaboration is key and as a new organization, we want to work with others,” Kendrick told edie.net. “We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but others aren’t reaching millennials in an appropriate way.”
“People are increasingly realizing that if there are no oceans, there’s no life. The oceans have become the crisis of this generation. We recognize that one solution doesn’t fit all people and so we have been approaching audiences which don’t usually interact with the topic of ocean plastics — and we have seen some success. If people are educated on the issue, they will start to think about the alternatives to plastic waste and will favor more sustainable business models so that we can live in a more sustainable society.”
Meanwhile, adidas today released a new white Parley for the Oceans edition of its UltraBOOST, UltraBOOST X and UltraBOOST Uncaged performance sneakers made with Parley Ocean Plastic™, a fiber derived from recovered ocean plastics.
While the first adidas x Parley collection was inspired by the blue color of the oceans, the new white edition serves as a nod to the coral bleaching crisis threatening oceans and is symbolic of the white flag humanity should raise in order to end marine plastic pollution with a collaborative approach.
“At adidas we believe that through sport we have the power to foster eco-innovation and enable our consumers to make a difference. The new white colorway we are introducing across the adidas x Parley collection aims to make not only a style statement, but an environmental one too,” said Matthias Amm, Product Category Director of adidas Running. “Humanity has been waging battles against pollution of the oceans for too long and the colorway is symbolic of the peace we need to make with the oceans.”
Reusing an average of 11 plastic bottles per pair in the upper, UltraBOOST Parley, UltraBOOSt X Parley and UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley also feature laces, heel webbing, heel counter, heel lining and sock liner covers made from recycled PET material. The shoes marry functionality and style with a definitive purpose — to raise awareness of marine pollution and evoke positive change.
The shoes are also equipped with an NFC Chip — a unique digital experience to learn more about the adidas x Parley partnership, as well as the Parley A.I.R. Strategy, which stands for ‘Avoiding’ the use of plastic, ‘Intercepting’ plastic waste and ‘Redesigning’ the plastic material itself.
“Every second breath we take is generated by the oceans. Still, we are polluting them with plastic, killing their life, driving majestic creatures into extinction. Our attacks bring the largest reefs down, make them lose their color as if they raise the white flag of surrender. Let’s make peace with the oceans and secure the future of mankind. This new shoe is not just an item. It’s a symbol. A new way to link products to the ocean cause,” said Cyril Gutsch, Founder of Parley for the Oceans.
Recognizing the unnecessary pollution created by plastic straws Burlington, VT native Milo Cress started a crusade against the unassuming beverage accessory, launching the Be Straw Free campaign in an effort to eliminate unnecessary waste. Now 15, Cress has become the face of the movement to eliminate plastic straws, one that has exploded since a video appeared on YouTube in 2015, depicting a turtle with a plastic straw stuck in its nose.
According to an estimate by Be Straw Free, Americans use half a billion straws every day — enough to wrap around the Earth 2.5 times — yet they rarely, if ever, make it into recycle bins. While seemingly insignificant, these small, slender tubes represent a momentous opportunity to address marine plastic pollution — a concept that more businesses are beginning to embrace. Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom and the Smithsonian Institute museums concession areas already ban them and many others are starting to follow suit thanks to efforts taken by nonprofits such as Cress’s to educate consumers and companies about the environmental impacts of plastic straws.
To date, approximately 1,800 organizations around the world — including schools, restaurants and institutions — have already eliminated the use of plastic straws or put a serve-upon-request policy into place, according to research done by the Plastic Pollution Coalition.
The public sector is also getting on board with the idea. Cities such as Berkley, Calif. are considering putting a ban into place and Manhattan Beach, Calif. has already done so. Restaurants in New York, Miami, British Colombia, San Diego and London have pledged to ban straws or withhold them until customers ask for them.
The momentum the movement is gaining is inspiring, but even so, not everyone is keen on the idea. The American Chemistry Council, which promotes plastics manufacturers, is none too pleased. In a recent National Geographic article, the organization’s managing director for plastics markets, Keith Christman, said the group would fight any attempts to ban plastic straws.
But with anti-straw policies receiving positive reception from consumers, the future is well-poised to be straw-free.