by Crystal Mendoza.
Vast blue oceans cover over 70% of the Earth, bringing life and balance to our planet. Unfortunately, we have not treated them so well. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a large stretch of ocean debris twice the size of Texas, mostly comprised of plastics. Plastics certainly don’t belong in the sea, and yet, eight million tons end up in our oceans every year. To put it in perspective, that’s the same weight as eight million walruses!
Without a doubt, plastic provides our society with a utility, but this temporary benefit is outlasted by its extremely long lifespan (500 to 1000 years). Single-use plastics, such as straws, bottles, and food packaging, are designed to be disposable. They account for half of all plastic produced yet make up 89% of all plastics in the ocean.
Plastic pollution in the ocean is harmful to wildlife, but also negatively impacts the climate. Plastics in the ocean release carbon as they break down into microplastics. As the carbon accumulates in the atmosphere, more heat is generated, and more plastic breaks down, creating a vicious cycle. If ingested, these small plastic particles can cause harm to microscopic organisms, such as plankton, that are instrumental for capturing and storing carbon dioxide in the ocean.
These facts are staggering, but not all hope is lost! We can each do our part to reduce single-use plastics in our daily lives to save our oceans, and ultimately, our planet. We can also demand ocean-friendly products and plastic-free business practices from our favorite brands! Below we highlight six brands that are doing their part to clean up our oceans, recycle plastic debris, and reduce single-use plastics.
Price Range: $18 – $108
Why We Love Them: Sustainable, non-toxic, ethical, cruelty-free, vegan, woman-owned
OSEA is a skincare brand that shares a symbiotic relationship with nature; in fact, the name OSEA stands for Ocean, Sun, Earth, and Atmosphere! Each of their products is comprised of wild seaweed sourced from a cooperative farm in Patagonia. Seaweed contains active compounds that provide cosmetic benefits, such as moisturizing, anti-aging, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties. Unlike other forms of agriculture, seaweed farming can help mitigate climate change by absorbing carbon and adding oxygen into (deacidifying) the ocean. Additionally, OSEA supports several ocean-related organizations, including Surfrider Foundation, MissionBlue, and Waves for Water.
Price Range: $8 – $295
Why We Love Them: Certified B Corporation, GOTS certified, Organic Cotton Standard (OCS), sustainable, ethical
United By Blue is a Certified B-Corp that constructs plastic-free sustainable clothing. For each product purchased, a pound of trash is removed from oceans and waterways with 3.5 million pounds of garbage collected so far! United By Blue also hosts several cleanups around the country and offers DIY Cleanup Kits for customers who want to arrange their own events. Additionally, they launched an internal Quit Single Use Task Force. Through this effort, plastic bags and bubble wrap have been replaced with paper and cardboard to help reduce single-use plastics.
Price Range: $8 – $215
Why We Love Them: 1% for the Planet, Surfrider Foundation, 5 Gyres, Save the Waves Coalition, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, PLAN, sustainable, ethical
Bureo is on a mission to save the ocean by ending fishing net pollution. A Scientific Reports study found that fishing nets make up 46% of 79 thousand tons of ocean plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Bureo collects fishing nets in coastal communities of South America and processes them into NetPlus recycled pellets. These pellets are used to create a variety of durable retail products, including skateboards and sunglasses. To date, Bureo has collected over 3 million pounds of discarded fishing nets from our oceans!
Price Range: $15 – $320
Why We Love Them: PeTa’s Cruelty-Free, Surfrider Foundation, sustainable, non-toxic, ethical, cruelty-free, vegan, TerraCycle
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates there will be more plastic weight in the ocean than fish by the year 2050. REN Clean Skincare is a clean beauty brand that refuses to add more unnecessary plastic waste to our oceans. They vow to make all skincare packs completely recyclable and reusable by the end of the year. In partnership with TerraCycle, they have already removed 1.5 tons of plastic from ocean sources. Additionally, they have collaborated with competing brands to produce only planet-friendly packaging by 2025 using the hashtag #WeAreAllies.
Price Range: $28 – $168
Why We Love Them: Fair Trade Certified, BLUESIGN, sustainable, ethical
Outerknown is a sustainable swimwear company launched by Kelly Slater, an 11-time world surfing champion. The company’s apparel is both functional and stylish, but Kelly refuses to sacrifice on his commitment to sustainability. In partnership with Aquafil, Outerknown developed a men’s swim trunk line that incorporates ECONYL, a sustainable nylon fiber created from discarded fishing nets collected from the ocean. The fabric has the same quality as virgin nylon and can be recycled over and over again. Recycled plastic = less plastic in the ocean
Price Range: $10 – $52
Why We Love Them: ECOCERT, PeTa’s Cruelty-Free, sustainable, non-toxic, ethical, cruelty-free, vegan, sustainable packaging
Want to protect your skin from the sun without harmful chemicals? COOLA sells reef-safe sunscreen products that are good for you and better for the planet. Their sunscreens are free of ultraviolet blocking chemicals correlated with endocrine and developmental impairments in wildlife and humans. Most of their bottles and jars are made of glass (infinitely recyclable) and their plastic tubes are made from sustainably sourced sugarcane resin. At this time, 75% of their cosmetic containers are recyclable, but they aim to create 100% recyclable products by 2023.
From sunglasses to sunscreen, swimwear to skincare, and everything between: retail does not have to come at the expense of the ocean. In fact, your purchase could be used to help cleanup ocean debris, or prevent plastic pollution from occurring in the first place.
Want to explore more ocean-friendly and plastic-free brands? Download the GoodHuman app, a one-stop shop for sustainable products and ethical brands.