Our Oceans are dying - are corporations doing enough?

Our Oceans are dying - are corporations doing enough?
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Highlights

The climate change epidemic is upon us, and is only getting worse every year. With increasing capitalistic societies, big corporations are producing products at alarming rates using fast and cheap materials.

The climate change epidemic is upon us, and is only getting worse every year. With increasing capitalistic societies, big corporations are producing products at alarming rates using fast and cheap materials. Sadly, these raw materials like synthetics and plastics are unrecyclable. Meaning - once these cheap one-time-use products are used, they serve no purpose, and cannot be recycled - leaving waste management authorities with two choices - to incinerate them, or dump them in our oceans. As per reports, pollutants in the oceans - especially single-use plastics have outnumbered the fish and other marine life.

As of today, India hasn't come around to tackling our plastic waste problem yet. The rivers we hold sacred are increasingly polluted with single use plastic bags and food wrappers. The fact that we are producing unrecyclable waste by the minute only adds to the problem.

As consumers, the onus lies on us to identify these plastics and reduce their consumption. While this approach is commendable, change needs to be driven at a macro-level for us to achieve sustainable results. Zero-Waste activism is actively gathering steam all around the world - with conscious consumers shunning brands and products they've been loyal to for years, for the sole reason that the companies produce tonnes of plastic waste.

Ashish Sachdeva, founder and president of Green Dream Foundation, an NGO working towards sustainability says, "This is a classic chicken and egg problem. When consumers create a demand for sustainable packaging, businesses follow suit to cater to their demands. In the current scenario, I'm happy to say that there is enough noise being made to hold the corporates accountable. Likewise, even the businesses need to be conscious, because a majority of consumers still pick convenience above all. Meaning, when the business drives change, the consumers follow suit."

Ideally, corporations need to take responsibility for their mass-produced plastic waste and replace them with equally efficient, less damaging and cost-effective alternatives. However, is it financially viable, sustainable and profitable for our corporations to take this leap? We spoke to two brands who are already making a dent at controlling the damage done.

Juicy Chemistry is a five-year old fully organic skin care brand whose focus lies on creating natural, organic products. Apart from enjoying a cult following, the brand is also extremely conscious about their wastage. Their packaging comes wrapped in paper, instead of plastic bubble wrap online stores usually use. They are currently in the process of completely switching to glass packaging from plastic, based on requests from their loyal customer base. Speaking about the move, Co-Founder Megha Asher said, "It started with customers asking us to switch to more eco-friendly packaging and move away from plastic. Has it been easy? No. We have had to re-brand ourselves, research for packaging that's equally durable like plastic and invest in photo shoots for the entire range of newly packaged products.".

Meanwhile, bigger brands like Adidas are making big strides in controlling their plastic wastage. The brand has even launched a sports shoe made out of upcycled plastic bottles. Speaking about the move, Sharad, brand marketing director from the company said, "As a global leader, Adidas has decided to look at sustainability as one of our goals, and find means to achieve it. Our shoes made from plastic use at least 10 bottles per pair. We have sold 5 million shoes in 2018 - meaning we have kept almost 5,00,00,000 bottles from being dumped into our oceans. We aim to sell 11 million shoes this year, and by 2024, we aim to use upcycled plastics wherever needed in our shoes and apparel, completely replacing virgin plastic."

Sustainability over Profitability:

Throwing light on why they decided to make the switch, despite much time and financial investment going into the process, Megha from Juicy Chemistry said. "As a company, when we promise to deliver high-quality products to our customers, we cannot skimp on packaging." When asked about whether it has affected their profitability, she says, "Honestly, it has. But, it's a choice we have made as a brand, because we need to start somewhere to tackle the problem. If we, as a five-year old company can take measures in our own way, big corporations with full-fledged Research and Development teams need to step up as well."

Mirroring her thoughts, Sharad from Adidas said, "With this particular campaign - 'Run for the Oceans' we aren't looking at profits as much as we're focussing on sustainability. For us, it's not an annual CSR event, rather a long-term project. We are looking at modifying our production methods and innovating new ways with our partner Parley Foundation to see how we can tackle this on the whole."

While conscious businesses are stepping forward to demonstrate that change is possible and is appreciated, we hope these campaigns inspire the big players to take charge and save our oceans.

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