A new blend of environmentalism, fashion, and good old-fashioned capitalism has taken hold in the blue waters of the Mediterranean sea. Fishing boats from Catalonia have started hauling back plastic polluting the sea to be recycled for use in sunglasses.
Sea2see, a Barcelona based company, is taking a visionary approach to recycling. They pay fishing boats to reclaim refuse from the sea and recycle it to make designer sunglasses. With overfishing becoming a serious problem, the company is supporting local fishermen while providing a powerful incentive to protect the waters they depend on.
Their mission statement shows an understanding that no one person can reverse pollution, but that many people can come together and change our collective mindset on the importance of saving the world’s oceans.
The plastic pollution levels found in oceans are no joke. In fact, a 2016 Ellen MacArthur Foundation report warned that if no intervention efforts are made, the estimated 150 million metric tons of plastic residing in the world’s oceans could continue to expand until there is more plastic than fish.
The question then: are the efforts put forth to popularize recyclable sunglasses going to make a difference?
The founder of Sea2see Francois Van den Abeele tells The Independant, “Fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world after oil and gas, but a lot of fashion companies’ sustainability efforts are just greenwash,” in hopes of raising awareness for his cause.
It seems to be going well so far. This 100% recyclable eyewear is now available in four countries, with plans to expand to the sizable hipster market within the United States. This is exceptional, and since sunglasses are worn on your face, it’s easy to imagine they will see success. In fact, a worldwide survey saw 52% of respondents say they expect to vacation at a beach within the next year. This will give the brand time to spread, and with environmentalism all the rage, it is all but inevitable.
The question of how this will affect the pollution epidemic in our oceans still remains uncertain though, as it’s scale is much larger than a single company can hope to tackle. The point that Van den Abeele, and others who share his vision, are trying to make is that if we all collectively decide that cleaning up the ocean is hopeless, then we will never do it, but if we try, then we might succeed. And hey, if not, everyone gets a cool pair of sunglasses.