At the turn of 2022, MrBeast completed his #TeamSeas initiative. An international collaborative fundraiser run by internet philanthropist MrBeast and inventive engineer Mark Rober, in partnership with Ocean Conservancy and Ocean Cleanup, the team successfully raised $30 million to dispose of 30,000,000 pounds of marine debris.
A large-scale initiative like #TeamSeas can inspire determination and capture the importance of removing trash and plastic from waterways and the ocean. It also underscores companies’ ability to make wide-scale changes that consumers would be unable to manage on such a magnitude. Indeed, consumer choice is guided by what is available, and the impact of those decisions often falls on the consumer, voiding companies of equal responsibility. If fewer products use virgin plastic packaging in the first place and instead opt for reclaimed and recycled plastic or sustainable materials, that alone can make a massive dent in preventing more plastic from flowing into the ocean.
Here’s how the cannabis industry can learn from #TeamSeas about leading the way in boosting sustainable initiatives, from reclaiming ocean plastic to implementing tactics that lead to a more sustainable future.
How Much Plastic is Really in the Ocean?
It’s no secret that the ocean is filled with plastic. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the top ten types of trash floating in the ocean include food wrappers, beverage bottles, grocery bags, straws, and take-out containers — all primarily made of plastic. Around 80% of this plastic is spilled into the ocean by more than 1,000 rivers.
In fact, estimates suggest 1.15 to 2.41 million tons of plastic enter the ocean from rivers each year, and since more than half of this plastic material is less dense than the water, it will not sink upon arrival. This plastic impact can lead to massive problems for sea life including ingestion of plastic debris and entanglement in fishing nets, causing issues up the food chain for terrestrial life, including people.
Pivoting to Sustainable Consumption to Fight Ocean Plastic
The cannabis industry has the capability to help mitigate the ocean plastic problem. One strategy could lie in catering to younger generations’ shopping habits. As a breakout consumer bracket, Gen Z is largely in support of shopping with sustainability in mind. Young consumers are more likely to identify with influencers like MrBeast, and as an increasingly sizable demographic in the cannabis industry, these two realities join forces to show their potent impact. #TeamSeas spotlights youths’ desires to better the planet, including willingness to dedicate to the cause and show support in unique ways.
Producers have a responsibility to support consumers’ desires in helping shape a world that helps to support the next generation. Using recycled and reclaimed materials is a crucial aspect of such a vision. Whereas consumers cannot make extensive changes that producers are afforded, they can influence the world they would like to see.
What the Cannabis Industry Can Do
Create recycled plastic packaging from reclaimed ocean plastic
Reclaiming ocean plastic can be beneficial to the planet and uplift cannabis brands that participate. Ocean-bound plastic is a stranded resource. As such, brands that reclaim ocean plastic and turn it into products and packaging materials make a direct impact. This serves to revitalize the environment, reintroducing materials directly to the marketplace and proper waste stream to give the plastic a new purpose in the process. From there, it’s up to cannabis brands to help return it to proper disposal.
Use your voice to speak up against ocean pollution
Being vocal about problems plastic pollution has caused can bring attention to solutions with the potential to steer us in the right direction. As #TeamSeas demonstrated, using your voice can be brought through informal means like social media, but it can also be executed in schoolrooms, educational seminars, lecture halls, and legislative chambers.
Many currently operational legal cannabis states are coastal states or border the Great Lakes, meaning they’re likely having a direct impact on plastic pollution in the sea. This offers industry players the opportunity to get in front of their local state legislatures to display consequences in a meaningful way and provide solutions to mitigate them.
Incorporate sustainability into your mission
Using 100% ocean-bound and reclaimed ocean plastic isn’t the only way to keep plastic from going into the ocean. Cannabis industry brands can meet targets by forging partnerships with companies committed to bettering our oceans, much like MrBeast did with Ocean Conservancy and Ocean Cleanup.
Moreover, continued meaningful support such as participation in local volunteer ocean and river cleanups or donating resources directly to conservation efforts can immensely aid in driving sustainable practices home and show dedication to a brighter, cleaner future.
One of the most critical outcomes of #TeamSeas was the inspiration MrBeast stirred within so many people to take action and respond to the plastic problem plaguing our waterways. From here, it’s up to us. Scope out a local volunteer cleanup for employees to participate in. Disseminate information about how we can all make an impact to aid ecosystems and begin using reclaimed ocean plastic packaging for your products. The ocean is fundamental to life on this planet, and cleaning up the plastic in the ocean promotes better outcomes for us all. The cannabis industry can lead the way toward a circular economic model centered on eliminating pollution and bettering our natural systems. Let’s do it together.