Ocean Plastics, Ugh!

by Bill Davis

While the issue of ocean plastics gathers greater public visibility, in large part due to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it doesn't appear to have captured the world's attention in the manner that it rightfully deserves given the seriousness of the issue.  The current thinking is that plastics as we have known them never fully biodegrade and as a result that is creating serious issues in the ocean and for the human race.  While plastics emerged relatively recently, in the mid 1800s, and let's be fair that modern life would be much more challenging without them, we also need to start recognizing the long term damage plastics are doing to the ocean and marine life and start to get a heckuva lot more proactive in minimizing / eliminating this footprint.

In that spirit, we'd like to highlight some initiatives that show some promise in bringing attention to the issue of ocean plastics as well as offering solutions for addressing.  The first one, and the idea that prompted this blog post, is Adidas UltraBoost shoes which are made from ocean plastics.  Done in partnership with Parley for the Oceans, this effort highlights what creative solutions can be developed when concerned and smart people start thinking about how to solve a problem.

Another unique initiative comes from Dell and how it plans to use recycled beach and ocean plastics in its laptop casings.  As a result of its efforts here Dell has convened NextWave, "an open-source initiative that brings leading technology and consumer-focused companies together to develop a commercial-scale ocean-bound plastics and nylon supply chain."  Founding members besides Dell include General Motors, Herman Miller, Humanscale, Interface and van de Sant among others.

Another company example is The Ocean Cleanup which is intent on tackling the herculean task of cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  Love the audacity of this company and even if they only get 50% of the way there, they will have done the human race a monumental service.  On a smaller scale, here's Norton Point sunglasses.  And finally, here's a great example of what a few individuals can do to shine the spotlight on the issue of ocean plastics.  As I live in the Seattle area here's a shout out to Eliza Dawson and her GoFundMe account.

While ocean plastics poses a significant threat to mankind, human ingenuity is starting to wake up to the consequences of our shortsightedness of treating the ocean like a garbage dump.  Hopefully we didn't wait too late.

4/17/18 update - a friend sent me this article on a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic today so thought this was worth including here.