Plastic "Smog" and the Future of Our Oceans


For some strange reason, we like to frighten ourselves for amusement. We watch movies about demonic clowns and fearsome monsters, but we know these terrifying things won’t stick with us once the credits roll. We move on with our lives until the next scary movie comes out, completely unaware of the terrors that plague our oceans at this very moment. More chilling than any hideous beast, plastic "smog" is the real nightmare.

Now you might be thinking to yourself, comparing plastic debris in the oceans to some horror flick is a bit dramatic. I would have to agree with you, but maybe drama is what we need to kickstart the understanding of how dangerous plastics can really be.

What is plastic "smog"? Much like the smog many of us encounter in our air, plastic smog is a combination of plastic waste and other debris that has polluted our oceans. Circulating ocean currents trap this debris in areas known as gyres where they continue to accumulate for years and years. There are five main gyres around the world, the largest being the Great Pacific Garbage Patch located in the North Pacific Ocean. The Great Pacific Garbage patch contains more than 79,000 tons of plastic and other waste. As the waste is often mistaken for food and ingested, it can be incredibly harmful to marine life.

Cleaning up this mess is no easy task, but many have taken on the challenge. One in particular, a young Dutch entrepreneur and inventor, aims to remove half of the waste found in the Great Pacific Garbage patch in the next decade. Boyan Slat, the founder of The Ocean Cleanup, has developed an underwater barrier to trap plastics as they are moved along by natural ocean currents. Along with Slat, a group of scientists has recently created an enzyme that has the potential to eat plastics. Still in its introductory phase, this enzyme has the ability to speed up the degradation process of plastics from centuries to days. As this enzyme is explored further, many are hopeful for what this could mean for our big plastic problem.

Others are not so optimistic. Many believe that cleaning initiatives are not enough to fix the problem at hand. Picking up our mess is not sufficient. We have to learn to be different going forward or we are going to end up in the same place a few centuries from now. We need to think about the entire life cycle of the products we are creating and consuming. Making a conscious effort to be better can make all the difference in the world.

So how is Coalatree doing their part? Here at Coalatree, we pride ourselves on making eco-friendly goods that have a very small footprint on our ecosystem. In every step of the design, manufacturing, and shipping process, we look for ways to be more sustainable. A number of our products are made from recycled materials, rather than new ones. Discarded yarns and even plastics are used to create new fibers for our gear. Our packaging is eco-friendly too! All hangtags and other packaging materials are made with recycled paper to reduce our waste content and keep trash out of our oceans and landfills. Let go of your worries, because at Coalatree, you can feel good about your purchase.

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