We've all heard devastating statistics like the prediction that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish and the unseen but horrifying but horrifying phenomenon of micro-plastics leaching into the waterways. That should be a pretty big motivator to support companies that are doing what they can to tackle the problem of plastic waste and to make sure that the products we are using are not making it worse.
Here are some everyday products that can help you to minimise your impact on our beautiful oceans and waterways and what brands are doing to fight against pollution.
It's not often that when putting on a load of laundry we pause to make the connection between our washing machine and the ocean, but what starts here ultimately ends of there. And while you may have made the switch to eco-friendly washing detergents, if you're washing synthetic fabrics, something sinister is still going on behind the scenes!
Microplastic waste is one of the biggest environmental problems in the world according to the Stop Micro Waste website. Micro-plastics enter into the environment from a number of different sources, one of them being the shedding of synthetic fibres through household washing. Stop Micro Waste recommends a 10 prong approach to safe washing which minimises micro waste pollution, including using filtering technology such as is found in the Guppy Friend Wash Bag
The Guppyfriend Washing Bag is a patented solution, that filters out the tiniest microfibres released from textiles during washing. The self-cleaning fabric bag is made of a specially designed micro-filter material. Once the fibres are collected in the bag, they can then be disposed of in a sealed container into the garbage collection. Guppyfriend was developed by Langbrett, a group of surfer and nature lovers and is described as "a first step towards a holistic solution to microfibre pollution".
Washing with Guppyfriend has the added benefit to both you and the environment of prolonging the life of your delicates such as lingerie and hosiery. Profits from the sale of Guppyfriend also go to help Stop Micro Waste raise awareness and educate about the problem of micro pollution.
Swedish Stockings have been a fore-runner in the development of garments made from recycled waste plastics, working with partners such as Econyl, who rescue fibres from landfill and directly from abandoned fishing nets in the ocean, then recreate them into nylon yarns for the textile industry.
Swedish Stockings divert 100s of kilos of plastic from landfill this way and turn them into beautiful and long-wearing stockings and socks. But they don't stop there, completing the production loop by partnering with manufacturers from various industries to take the fibres from hosiery at the end of their life and turn them into things like furniture and water tanks! In Australia, you can return washed and unwearable stockings to Biome eco-stores for a bulk return to Sweden or if you would like to invest in a local program, Manrags have a wonderful initiative now in place. You can have 10 kilos of unwanted textiles picked up for $25 which is fully redeemable in their online store!
3. Active Wear
Active wear and performance wear (whether you're training in it or sipping lattes in it) has certainly become a staple over the last few years and, being squarely the domain of synthetic fabrics, is a prime candidate for recycling waste plastics. Luckily, there are a few fantastic brands who are already on it!
Team Timbuktu is an Australian designed active wear brand born out of owner Rhianna's vision to make good looking, sustainable and ethically made gear that you can move in. Their range is made from up to 72% recycled materials from plastic bottles and their aim is to eventually make that 100%.
"we believe that our bodies were made for movement and that there should never be compromise between style and sustainability"
A beautiful ocean friendly brand of swimwear is family owned Australian label Peony. Peony is another company making use of the wonders of Econyl recycled fibres as well as their own custom textured recycled fabric which is made in-house. Their commitment to sustainability runs throughout their whole business, including using innovative fabrics such as recycled hemp in their resort wear collections, compostable packaging and plans to implement a closed-loop production system in the future.
Kevin Murphy Australia is the first beauty brand to package their product in 100 % ocean waste plastic and in doing so, salvage 360 tonnes of plastic from the ocean a year! But this is only one aspect of the brand's deeply embedded commitment to making a positive impact on the environment. Like Swedish Stockings, Kevin Murphy takes every part of the production cycle into consideration, ensuring formulas are biodegradable and supporting salons to recycle and conserve resources such as water. On top of this, the organisation is involved in giving to several philanthropic causes, including Al Gore's Climate Reality Project.
"Cleaning up our oceans means more than just pretty beaches - it means restoring our coastlines, preserving our ecosystems, and safeguarding our futures. Our commitment to converting Ocean Waste Plastic into our packaging is just one of the ways we’re investing in our future and working towards a cleaner, greener planet"
Ocean Australia is a sunscreen brand that believes that protecting yourseld from the sun's harmful rays and protecting the planet CAN go hand in hand! Traditional sunscreens use chemicals that are damaging to ocean reefs, but Ocean Australia uses 100% natural mineral filters. If that's not enough to sway you, Ocean Australia is also ethically made in Australia, cruelty-free and does not contain any nanoparticles.
6. Reusable Cups
There are a lot of reusable or portable coffee cups available on the market today as more people are becoming conscious of the environmental impact of their daily habits, but you have to admit, there is something special about Pottery for the Planet! Their products are beautifully and uniquely handcrafted, working with grass-roots artisans and paying attention to the ethics of their supply chain at every level. Again, this is a company that assesses their impact in each component of their operation, including packaging and transport. A percentage of their profits also goes to charitable organisations such as the Australian Marine Conservation Society.They don't just make portable cups either - check out their stunning collections of crockery and homewares.
7. Personal Care
Brush It On is a fantastic social enterprise based in Sydney and Melbourne that forward 100% of their net profits to environmental causes, including The Australian Marine Conservation Society. They make sustainable MOSO bamboo toothbrushes with super-cute designs, as well as natural and eco-friendly beauty and travel accessories.
"Our planet needs help and we just couldn’t sit around any longer watching our everyday products filling landfills. We decided we wanted to actively contribute to helping the environment and designed oral care products that give back to the planet rather than taking from it"
Brush It On.
8. Household Cleaning
If you're looking for absolute excellence in environmentally friendly cleaning products, you can't go past the 30 years experience of ABA100 Eco Innovation winner Tri Nature. Among Tri Nature's many features, their formulas are grey-water and septic safe, animal cruelty free and ingredients are ethically and sustainably sourced. Tri Nature products contain no phosphates or sulphates which can disrupt the balance in marine eco-systems.
Have you ever considered the possibility of eco-friendly recycled eyewear? That's exactly what the founders of Ozeano did in response to the problem of ocean plastic waste. Ozeano is a truly inspiring Australian brand with a vision to help both people and planet, using all environmentally friendly materials in the creation of their designer sunglasses and packaging, including recycled polycarbonate, recycled acrylic, recycled bamboo and organic cotton. And it gets even better - every pair of glasses sold equates to 12kgs of plastic waste being removed from oceans and waterways (that's the same as over 900 plastic bottles!) thanks to their partnership with the Seabin Project. Their generosity also extends to help restore sight to disadvantaged people by donating 10% of profits to The Fred Hollows Foundation.
Ozeano also operates within a circular framework, offering a 25% discount on your next purchase when you return your glasses for recycling.
10. Home Textiles
You wouldn't believe that recycled PET bottles could make such beautiful rugs, throws, bags, cushions and other textiles unless you've seen Weaver Green's elegant collection. In 2019 Weaver Green recycled their 100 millionth bottle and all their products contain between 100 and 3000 in each of their products! They are also mindful of the impact of micro-pollution, ensuring that their yarns meet the highest levels of tensile stability to minimise shedding and also recommend the use of filtering bags such as the Guppyfriend wash bag.
These are just a handful of the sustainable innovators applying imagination and creativity to the issue of ocean waste. Be sure to support the brands that are doing their part to support our environment!