BIRTH OF A TRIBE: How a surf break clean-up became a mission to save the oceans
What began as an attempt to clean the beach of plastic after a surfing weekend 10 years ago has become a global lifestyle brand and movement with a mission to save the oceans.
This unwelcomed change in the condition of the local surf break prompted some research, which revealed some truly disturbing results – an island of garbage in the ocean 'the size of Texas'.
Further research revealed not one trash patch but 5, and that the trash was pooled there by currents, called 'gyres'. Yet more discovery uncovered how great the plastic epidemic really was; millions of plastic bags and straws, billions of microplastics from cleansers and synthetic fabrics, and miles of nylon ghost nets.
The damage was now apparent and growing - Plastics consistently make up 60 to 90% of all marine debris studied.
Every day approximately 8 million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into the oceans. There may now be around 5.25 trillion macro and microplastic pieces floating in the open ocean. Weighing up to 269,000 tons. By 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than there are fish (by weight).
Meanwhile recycling numbers dropped from a mere 20% to less that 5% as the cost of recycling outpaced the cost of virgin plastic – a by-product of fossil fuels. This spurred research into waste management, climate change and its evil twin ocean acidification, and resulting coral bleaching. While more common knowledge today, this plastic epidemic and climate crisis was shocking news.
Fast forward 5 years: The friends on the beach that weekend founded Sacred Possessions LLC and the Wet Tribe brand, and its 'tide to the ocean' movement to save our seas.
First the 'Wet Tribe' cause-related brand created decals to raise awareness and funds for beach clean-up; then produced reusable water bottles made from recycled aluminum and recovered plastic.
A line of bamboo clothing came next, to eliminate microplastic fibers – with plans for other sustainable bamboo and hemp products to replace plastics in the works. 'Tide to the Ocean' bracelets made from recovered ghost nets will be out this summer. A campaign to restore mangrove trees to mitigate ocean acidification and save corals is also underway.
Increased awareness this decade has seen plastic straw bans, plastic bag bans, the elimination of plastic microbead cleansers, and even devices attempting to remove plastic from ocean. Climate Change has seen increased ocean temperatures, melting glaciers, rising seas, acidified oceans and bleached coral. The good news is a worldwide agreement at the Paris Climate talks to limit carbon emissions, and a Climate Strike lead by children when that agreement stalled into non-action.
Today Wet Tribe is not just a brand, it is a movement, on a hero's journey to save our ocean planet.
It is a true David vs Goliath story; a small band of surfers, scientists, and activists who have pitted themselves against trillion-dollar fossil fuel interests, beachfront real estate developers, plastics manufacturers, and corporate polluters.
Wet Tribe is also working with groups like 5 Gyres and Climate Reality for continued access to the latest research, as well as 1% for the Planet, Plastic Bank, Open Litter Map, and Global Citizen for global impact. The movement is both grassroots and cutting-edge using citizen science to track the issues and successes. Or as they say, "We have roughly the same percentage of water and salt in our bodies as in the seas; it is in the sweat of our efforts, and in the tears of our disappointments."
Consumers can feel good about the products and services from this cause-related brand committed to positive social and environmental impact. So, as you make your daily purchase decisions or visit popular waterfront locations, remember the words of this growing tribe, "We are not strangers separated by countries, we are a tribe connected by oceans. We are Wet Tribe, we are 'tide to the ocean' …and we are rising!"