From overfishing to hypoxic dead zones to massive garbage patches, the planet’s oceans are in trouble. Worldwide, plastic pollution remains one of the most pervasive issues affecting marine ecosystems. Plastic waste has surfaced in a wide range of marine habitats, from debris polluting the planet’s coastlines to minuscule microplastics embedded in deep-sea sediments. Almost 8 metric tons of plastic waste winds up in the planet’s oceans every year, and at the current pace, we could be dumping 53 million metric tons of plastic in global seas annually by 2030, according to a report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
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This holiday season, actor and environmental activist Adrian Grenier is highlighting the issue of plastic pollution through a collaboration with Mount Gay Rum and Sea Bags, contributing to marine conservation efforts with the release of the Mount Gay x Sea Bags Ocean Currents Collection. Featuring two-limited edition bags, a tote, and a beverage bucket, the collection helps to fund the removal of plastic from global seas by supporting trash removal and repurposing projects undertaken by 4ocean. Made by hand in Maine from recycled sailboat sails, the weather-resistant Mount Gay x Sea Bags Ocean Currents Collection bags feature hemp rope handles and are emblazoned by a design inspired by the planet’s swirling ocean currents. Through 4ocean’s Pound+ Program, each tote bag purchased helps fund the removal of two pounds of plastic waste from the planet’s oceans and coastlines, while beverage bucket supports the removal of one pound of plastic trash.
An advocate for marine conservation for more than six years, Grenier co-founded Lonely Whale in 2015, a foundation dedicated to advocating for the planet’s oceans with targeted initiatives aimed at tackling plastic waste. Through Lonely Whale, Grenier has worked to address plastic pollution in global oceans with initiatives like the #StopSucking campaign, an effort to reduce the impact of single-use plastic straws. Lonely Whale also spearheaded the Strawless in Seattle campaign, leading Seattle to become the first city in the United States to ban plastic straws in 2018. Appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in 2017, Grenier has also worked to draw attention to the plight of marine species, advocating for United Nation’s Wild for Life campaign to support the conservation of critically endangered sawfish, and serving as an executive producer for the documentary The Loneliest Whale, released earlier this year.
‘I want to make sure my values are being reflected in any partnership I make, and when I started learning about Mount Gay’s deep history in and around the ocean and their recent efforts to help mitigate plastic waste and preserve the ocean, of course, it was a no brainer,’ says Grenier.
Mount Gay Rum also has a deeply rooted connection to the ocean. The oldest rum producer in Barbados is believed to be the birthplace of the spirit, the roots of Mount Gay Rum can be traced back more than 300 years, to a deed listing a pot still, dated 1703. And today, Mount Gay Rum’s coastal location still shapes the production process, which incorporates water filtered by coral and a fermentation process utilizing ocean air yeast. The connection to the ocean has also catalyzed a commitment to sustainability and marine conservation. Through an ongoing partnership with 4ocean, Mount Gay has helped fund the removal of 20,000 pounds of plastic waste from global seas and has also set a goal of relying fully on 100% sustainable agriculture by 2025.
‘At the core of this collaboration is plastic reduction and awareness,’ says Grenier.
‘We at Lonely Whale were right there at the beginning trying to bring plastic pollution to the front of people’s minds, so we are happy at it’s at the top of mind and part of our everyday awareness at this point,’ Grenier adds.
Like Mount Gay Rum, Sea Bags also has a deep connection to the ocean and to sustainability. By upcycling used sails to create handcrafted bags and totes, the Maine-based company has prevented more than 700 tons of material from heading to landfills.
‘It’s a multifactorial effort and it’s not just about being more mindful about how we consume, but it’s also about how we maybe reduce the amount we consume, and then how do we connect with one another, that’s probably the most important piece,’ says Grenier.
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