Can green fashion save our oceans?

From the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to the Gulf oil spill, you don’t have to look far for evidence of how heavily we pollute our oceans. The effects of this pollution are both environmental and economic: harming ocean life diminishes our capacity to make use of the many resources on which we rely provided by the planet’s ample blue spaces. Just take a look at some of the numbers from NOAA, National Geographic, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute:

  • 6:1 – Plastic outweighs plankton in parts of the Pacific
  • 14 Billion – Pounds of pollution dumped into our ocean every year
  • 100 Million – Sharks killed every year just for their fins
  • 2048 – The year 90% of edible fish will be extinct due to overfishing
  • 71 – Percentage of the Earth covered by our oceans
  • 1/2 – of the oceans coral reefs have been destroyed

Twenty-three year-old eco-entrepreneur Brian Linton thinks business has a role to play in reversing these trends, and his four-year old company Sand Shack has committed itself to ocean conservation from its inception. In May, Sand Shack kicked up both its product line and conservation efforts with the launch of United by Blue, an eco-fashion line designed to promote both awareness and action on ocean pollution.

So, how can green fashion save our blue spaces?

The concept is relatively simple, and based on the premise of tying action to consumer choices: for every item purchased at United by Blue, the company commits to cleaning up one pound of trash from beaches and waterways. They do this by organizing volunteer groups of “Clean Leaders” that host clean-up events. Events may be hosted by student environmental groups, retail employees of companies that sell UBB and/or Sand Shack merchandise, or other groups… UBB itself has hosted the most clean-ups so far, and managed the pick up just under 3000 pounds of trash at this point. You can find out more about these efforts at a site they’ve created for their conservation efforts.

Of course, these kinds of efforts mean little if a company’s spewing a lot of trash back into the waste stream (which may well end up in the ocean). UBB uses plastic-free packaging, and organic materials “whenever possible”… there’s probably more room for details here, but they seem to be on the right track.

Obviously, the company’s a start-up, so few of you have probably had dealings with them, either in purchasing their products, or participating in clean-up efforts. But if you have, share your story… we’d love to hear more.


Image: Participants in a United by Blue clean-up event. Credit: United by Blue