By Marnie Cunningham
The Pacific nation of Vanuatu is addressing its waste problem by banning certain plastic items. Prime Minister Charlot Salwai made a public declaration on Independence Day (July 30) that they would be phasing out the use of plastic bags and bottles.
According to the Vanuatu Daily Post, PM Salwai stated in his announcement that it was his government's priority to protect Vanuatu's environment and oceans and to keep the country "clean and safe."
When implemented the ban will mean that the country will no longer allow the use or importation of single use plastic bags and bottles. And if the ban does come into effect, Vanuatu will be the first Pacific countries to do so.
According to LOOP, Vanuatu will be joining American Samoa, the Marshall Islands and the Micronesian state of Yap in its fight against plastic pollution. Last week Northern Marianas passed a bill that means shops will now be fined if they offer shoppers plastic bags, with the Solomon Islands considering implementing similar penalties. Fiji will also be soon introducing a levy on plastic bags, which will now cost shoppers 10 Fiji cents per bag.
This announcement came after a campaign to ban plastic bags was run during National Environment Week in June. The online petition to ban bags drew attention to the damage plastic causes to oceans and marine life.
Back in 2015, during National Environment Week, the Vanuatu Environment Science Society held a nationwide "Clean Up Your Environment Day" encouraging people to pick up rubbish. They later sorted the litter that was collected and conducted a survey noting the different types of litter that was affecting different areas including underwater. The most common item found was plastic bags and plastic food wrappers.
Let's hope Vanuatu follows through on the ban and sets the bar for other Pacific nations to follow suit.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Global Citizen.
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The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
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The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
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And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
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Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
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Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
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Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.