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For $200, this nonprofit will harvest ocean microplastic and put it on your face

From Trash To Treasure - Producing The Final Product | Cleaning Oceans | The Ocean Cleanup

There’s a somewhat grizzly plot point in Fight Club about the protagonist turning discarded, liposuctioned human fat into soap, and then selling it back to the people who paid to have it extracted. That’s not an exact analog for the latest attention-grabbing tactic of the nonprofit Ocean Cleanup project — but it’s not a million miles away either.

The world’s oceans have a big problem when it comes to waste plastic. Approximately e8 million tons of plastic winds up in our oceans each year, making up by far the most abundant form of marine litter. In its quest to do something about it — and put the issue on even more people’s radar — the Ocean Cleanup project has been collecting up this discarded microplastic and transforming it into stylish, $199 sunglasses.

“The Ocean Cleanup Sunglasses are made from the plastic which the Ocean Cleanup collected in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch with its System 001/B in 2019,” a spokesperson for the group told Digital Trends. “It is the first-ever product to have been made from plastic … to have been taken out of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. They are premium sunglasses, designed in California, made in Italy.”

Ocean Cleanup sunglasses
Ocean Cleanup

The sunglasses were created in partnership with sustainability designer Yves Béhar and Safilo, one of the leading companies in the eyewear industry.

Of course, there’s a limit to how much recycled plastic it takes to create a pair of sunglasses. But the use of recycled plastic is only part of the picture. “As we are a nonprofit, 100 percent of the proceeds go toward next year’s cleanup,” the spokesperson said. “The proceeds of one pair of sunglasses is predicted to allow us to clean 24 football fields worth of ocean.”

That’s not going to solve the problem overnight, but it’s one heck of a good start. The nonprofit notes that, if it sells every pair it’s created, it will allow for the cleaning of a half-million football fields worth of ocean. The sunglasses are available to purchase right now.

“We wanted to provide our supporters with a product that would last and that they would want to hold to for a long time,” the spokesperson told Digital Trends. “Because sunglasses are durable, useful, and — since we’re dependent on word-of-mouth to spread our mission — we hope that by making something that is often carried around, they can also help create awareness. With the proceeds from each product reinvested into our continued cleanup operations, each pair of sunglasses will make a tangible impact toward clean oceans.”

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Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
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