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Innovators call for more action to save our oceans

Turtle diving in ocean
Jakob Owens/Unsplash
Jul 16, 2022 By WGSN Insider

Sustainability innovators and activists raised awareness of marine pollution and the threats facing our seas on World Ocean Day in June, while the United Nations held its Ocean Conference 2022 in Portugal to scale up science-backed and innovative solutions.

The world is in the middle of an “ocean emergency,” according to UN secretary general António Guterres, who said ocean heating reached record levels in 2021. Coastal cities are facing flooding, pollution is creating dead zones and overfishing is crippling fish stocks. Without drastic action, plastic could outweigh all the fish in the ocean by 2050.

Buildings in Manarola, Italy, by the sea
Sergiu Vălenaș/Unsplash

Consumer awareness is rising

Ocean awareness is rising. According to WGSN proprietary data, mentions and interest in microplastics (a major ocean pollutant) across our Fashion, Food & Drink and Beauty Influencer Maps and across Search have risen consistently since 2018. They peaked in March 2022, when scientists found microplastic in human blood.

For World Ocean Day, Japanese aquarium Yokohama Hakkeijima created Microplastic Globe, a series of water globes using plastic from the seas, to raise awareness of pollution and its effects on sea life. 

WGSN Search and Social data
WGSN Search and Social data

Tackling microplastics

“Awareness on the microplastic pollution issue is known, but the mounting evidence showing microplastic particles and fibres in food chains, ecosystems, the atmosphere and in our bodies indicates many products we use and consume could pose a threat to health,” says Helen Palmer, Head of Materials & Textiles at WGSN.

“Tackling microplastics needs to start at the product design stage. In garments, this means looking at the make and finishing stages of plastic-based fibre, yarn, fabric and garments, through to wearing, laundering and end of life. Building alliances between all parties involved in the supply chain alongside environmentalists and policymakers is the only way to fast-track progress to reduce microplastic impact.”

Little plastic pellets on the beach
Sören Funk/Unsplash

In fashion, The Nordic Swan is said to be the first eco-label to include details of microplastics release for garments containing synthetic fibres, while in beauty, Awantys Group (Germany) launched the AwyOcean cosmetic packaging made from plastics from oceans. Sustainable aquaculture firm Maine Ocean Farms is exploring alternatives to plastic for fishing gear, including kelp-based ropes.

How you can action this

Ensure your supply chain is clean of pollution and actively engage in projects to regenerate oceans. WGSN clients can access more information on ocean sustainability strategies across the product design industries in Intelligence: Aquaculture (Food & Drink), Sustainability & Innovation: Eco-Nylon (Fashion) and Key Trend: Sustainability – Eradicating Microplastics (Beauty).

Read the full Sustainability Bulletin: July 2022 for a round-up of the key sustainability happenings this month.

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