When we drop something into the ocean, by accident or not, it disappears from our immediate worries and (given ocean currents, the depth of the ocean, etc.) leaves our consciousness. “Out of sight, out of mind” as they say. This separation from our pollution distances entire communities and industries from the environmental impacts they create, only to pass the problem on to the next unsuspecting individual or community.
Fortunately, for anyone who appreciates clean beaches and innovative projects, Andrew Almack, a student from Bishop University in Sherbrooke, Quebec, founded Plasticshore. Plasticshore is an organization that seeks to establish a positive feedback loop of pollution mitigation by collecting plastic waste and converting it into reusable goods, which are then sold. All proceeds are then reinvested towards further plastic contamination relief, thus creating a self-sustaining loop of pollution reduction. In addition to the direct positive impact of plastic collection projects, Plasticshore furthers its sustainable ideals by partnering with companies to incorporate certified plastic debris into their product lines. “It’s essentially an eco label that will show up on products,” says Almack, who believes that this will raise awareness of plastic contamination and enable individuals to make responsible consumer decisions and contribute to a solution.
Plasticshores materialized into the organization that now exists after Almack spent time in Southeast Asia where pollution has accompanied rapid economic development. “Things are different in developing countries [where] everyone’s trying to develop as fast as they can, and plastics are amazing, but the infrastructure for managing this responsibly hasn’t caught up yet,” says Almack. He believes that creating a network of conscious consumers, fueled by strategic partnerships with Plasticshore’s affiliate companies, can help turn the tide against the increased prevalence of plastic pollution.
The theme of empowerment drives Plasticshores and in the future, founder Andrew Almack hopes to mobilize communities across the world through a network of community-based chapters. These community chapters will in turn partner with local companies to promote recycled goods and produce results. The projects can make cleanup efforts a rewarding team building exercise and Plasticshore is eager to help any organization that is interested in starting a project.
Plasticshore’s first project in British Columbia focuses on the cleanup of debris that was brought across the ocean from last year’s tsunami in Japan. “We want to do a really good job with the pilot project in B.C, and then hopefully use that to create a manual, and really use that to help grow the project…and we hope to have projects over the world,” says Almack. Plasticshores also works with schools to coordinate “environmental education programs that empower the youth to be agents of change in their community and in the world” and instill ecologically and economically proactive ideals in surrounding communities.
Implementing a recycling initiative serves the dual function of a fundraising tool that is “a hand’s-on learning experience that teaches kids that [they] can take on complex problems and do something to take action.”
Plastic shore is in its infant stages as an organization, having only been established within the last year. They have yet to release any products for sale, but converting trash into treasure is a business model with a proven track record in areas such as post-consumer paper waste and city wide compost programs. Growing green consumer trends, advances in mixed recycling technology, and the increased abundance of plastic contamination combine to put Plasticshore in a promising position for the future. Plasticshore’s unique approach introduces an environmental solution that applies innovative economic logic to implement and sustain itself, which undeniably lays the groundwork for other successful environmental projects in the future. To learn more about Plasticshore, visit their website or Facebook page, or follow them on Twitter.
LoaTree Team Writer