Changing the Way We Think About Plastic

Approximately nine million tons of plastic end up in the ocean each year—the equivalent of five plastic grocery bags stuffed with plastic trash on every foot of coastline around the world.

Thinking about Plastic

It’s estimated that nearly 350 million tons of plastic are produced globally each year, and despite the efforts of manufacturers and consumers, barely any of this is ultimately recycled. Approximately nine million tons of plastic end up in the ocean each year—the equivalent of five plastic grocery bags stuffed with plastic trash on every foot of coastline around the world. Plastic pollution in the ocean has dire implications for all marine life as well as humans, indeed our entire planet.

Approximately nine million tons of plastic end up in the ocean each year—the equivalent of five plastic grocery bags stuffed with plastic trash on every foot of coastline around the world.
Ocean Debris
Just some of the debris that makes it way into our oceans.

Most are destined for landfill or joins the five trillion pieces of plastic polluting the world’s oceans. It’s a problem that has been discussed at every level, from the local store to the World Economic Forum at Davos.

Now, in and of itself plastic is the evil monster hiding in the woods. It’s our one-use, throw-away mentality that has created our global crisis. Our choice, our challenge is do we step up and change our way of thinking and use while theirs still time? Are we willing to forego some convenience for sustainability? Some companies have and many townships are banning plastic grocery bags.


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Take Evian for instance who has recently pledged to make all of its plastic bottles from 100% recycled plastic by 2025. This will go a long way to keeping plastics in the system and out of the environment and that’s key to winning the battle.

Of course, the most daunting question is how, as individuals, do we make a difference. I’m not sure.

Personally, I use a refillable water bottle and have purchased a ‘glass straw’ for my wife. It’s taken some getting used to but we now order our drinks with the phrase, “Hold the plastic straw, please”. Some forward-thinking establishments have already done just that.

And even better you can Drive The Change with National Geographic, who, buy the way, have recently started printing and packaging the iconic magazine in a more environmentally friendly manner.

The bones are a stark reminder of the toxicity of plastics in the environment.

4Ocean and Beach Cleanups

If you watch the news at all you’ve seen everything from projects involving ocean-going garbage collection barges to the local beach cleanup.

I’ve been involved with a few beach cleanups and I’ve always been nagged with the feeling that I was just running on a treadmill. And sometimes worse. I know a few that conduct clean ups just as a way to further there agenda.

No matter how pristine we get the beach it’s only good until the next tide. And annual clean-ups just are never going to resolve the issue. With perhaps one exception…

That is where 4Oceans comes in. The idea is so obvious and sustainable that, like post-its, I wonder why I didn’t come up with the idea.

4Oceans is from the brain-share of Andrew Cooper and Alex Schulze. While surfing in Bali they were confronted with a huge amount of trash floating in the ocean.



One afternoon they came across an old fishing village where fishermen were literally pushing their boat through piles of plastic that had washed up on shore. The two surfers realized that the proliferation of plastic threatened both the ocean environment and the fishermen’s livelihood. Could the fishermen use their nets, they wondered, to pull the plastic from the ocean? This idea stuck with the 2 surfers and they knew it was time to hit the drawing board. After realizing that the demand for seafood was driving the fishermen to focus on fish instead of plastic, they knew they had to create something that could fund the desired cleanup efforts. Basically, create an economy where the locals were fishing for abundant trash rather than scarce fish.

This is how the 4ocean Bracelet was born.

Made from recycled materials, every bracelet purchased funds the removal of 1 pound of trash from the ocean and coastlines. In less than 2 years, 4ocean has removed 3,129,986 pounds of trash from the ocean and coastlines.


So what does all this mean? Well, I truly believe we’re at a crossroad. There’s no question we’re putting more and more stress on our planet. The question is can we deflect our trajectory enough so as not to make the planet uninhabitable for humans?

Can we temper our natural greed to want more to preserve a world we want to pass on to our grandchildren?

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