Who Wears the Trousers… on Ocean Plastics!

Today at the Our Ocean Summit held in Valparaiso, Chile, José María Figueres, Co-chair of the Global Ocean Commission and former President of Costa Rica, donned a suit and sunglasses made from plastic waste to help bring awareness to the harmful effects of plastics on ocean life and highlight innovative uses for plastic waste.

José María Figueres wearing a suit and sunglasses made from ocean plastics ©Kashfi Halford / GOC

Marine debris, particularly plastics, are a major source of ocean pollution and pose a serious threat to marine ecosystems. In 2010 alone, it is estimated that eight million tons of plastic trash entered the ocean from coastal countries. With plastic production and usage increasing rapidly, this number is on target to increase tenfold within the next decade. If unchecked by 2025, some estimate that there could be as much as 1kg of plastic for every 3kg of fish in the ocean.

The Global Ocean Commission’s report, From Decline to Recovery: A Rescue Package for the Global Ocean, was released in June 2014 and identified the drivers of ocean decline while mapping out the 8 key interventions needed to ensure the ocean’s recovery. Proposal 5 focused on the growing problem of plastic waste in the Ocean and the efforts needed to stop it from polluting marine environments. Preventing the loss of plastic waste to the ocean must be a priority for the international community, but so too must be the capacity to create innovative solutions to tackle the mountains of plastic waste currently littering the globe.

While moderating a session at the Our Ocean Event in Chile on Marine Pollution, José María Figueres’ called attention to this issue by wearing a suit made entirely of recycled plastic from a landfill in Asia, as well as sunglasses made in Chile from discarded fishing nets. This wardrobe focuses attention on the massive problem of plastic waste and helps highlight some very innovative solutions that can be used to address this problem.

‘Plastic suits and sunglasses will not solve the plastic waste crisis we are facing, but are a good example of the innovative thinking and drive needed to combat this problem’ said Jose Maria. “On behalf of the Global Ocean Commission I am issuing a call to action and a challenge for other innovative ideas that make good economic use of this valuable resource and addresses the pollution of our greatest resource the ocean!”