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An Investment into the Health of Our Oceans (and the Fate of Humanity)


Post by Janelle Cox - Published on 3/30/22 8:30 AM

At the start of 2022, The Wanderlust Group (TWG) launched The Wanderfund, a new philanthropic initiative focused on supporting organizations that create greater access to nature and protect the environment. Throughout the year, The Wanderfund will be investing in nonprofits, and our donations will total $300,000 at the end of the year. We've kicked off that initiative with donations to two organizations: The Boys & Girls Club of Newport County and Ocean Conservancy, a global organization working to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges.

Below you’ll find our Q&A with the Ocean Conservancy team, who, in their own words, gave us an insider look at their humanitarian efforts and shared their plans for The Wanderfund’s gift.

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Our Q&A with Ocean Conservancy

What is Ocean Conservancy? How did it start?

Ocean Conservancy is a nonprofit advocacy organization working to protect the ocean from today’s most significant global challenges. We research, advocate for, and implement evidence-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it. This year marks our 50th anniversary, and we are thrilled to celebrate wins for our ocean and plan the next few decades of conservation advocacy. 

One of our best-known public initiatives is our annual International Coastal Cleanup® (ICC), which mobilizes hundreds of thousands of people worldwide to remove trash, much of it single-use plastics, from local beaches, waterways, and parks. Since the first ICC in 1986, nearly 17 million volunteers have removed more than 344 million pounds of trash! The ICC is the backbone of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas® program, bringing together two dozen experts fighting to keep plastics and other debris out of the ocean.

Why do you believe it’s essential to protect our oceans, wildlife, and the communities that surround them?

The health of the ocean is intricately connected to the fate of humanity. You’ll find more than half of all life on Earth in the ocean, and 40% of the world’s population lives within 60 miles of the coast. The ocean contributes to the air we breathe, the water we drink, and our food supplies. The ocean regulates our climate and has absorbed about one-third of the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. In addition, more than 3 billion people worldwide depend on seafood as a primary source of protein. 

Why is ocean plastic pollution such a problem?

Plastic pollution is one of the most visible, prolific threats to our ocean. Some 11 million metric tons of plastics enter our ocean each year from land – more than a garbage truck’s worth every minute, and plastics have been found everywhere, from the deepest ocean trench to the most remote island shoreline. We’ve designed plastic material to last forever, and, unfortunately, most of the products made are often used only once before being discarded. That is simply not sustainable long-term. Plastics never break down in the ocean, indefinitely hurting wildlife of all shapes and sizes, disrupting the food chain, and even ending on our dinner plates in the form of microplastics. 

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What are some research areas of particular interest for your team of scientists?

Plastic pollution is a fast-growing field of study, and Ocean Conservancy has long been at the forefront of catalyzing research. For example, we are actively studying the impacts of microplastics, tiny plastics smaller than 5mm in size, on human health; and better understanding how plastic litter moves from land to sea. 

What solutions will be most effective in tackling ocean plastic pollution? What is Ocean Conservancy doing about this problem?

Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas program brings together some two dozen policy experts, scientists, and advocates to support cleanup efforts and identify and implement policies that keep plastics out of our ocean in the first place. Additionally, we mobilize hundreds of thousands of volunteers every year through our International Coastal Cleanup. We advocate for bans on some of the most problematic plastics, most commonly found on beaches and waterways, and other legislation that will help move us to a circular economy. Lastly, we work with companies to rethink their use of plastics. 

Our goal is to better understand the largest, most impactful sources of ocean plastic and tackle them head-on.

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How can boaters and others reading this article get involved?

We have some great tips to help boaters keep our ocean clean and healthy while on the water and at the dock.

Unfortunately, mishandling a boat can harm ecosystems, wildlife, and water quality. However, if your readers feel as though they are doing all they can to reduce environmental risk while boating, we have other options:

Check out Ocean Conservancy’s “take action” section of the website. Get involved in ICC, and get involved in Good Mate.

The Good Mate initiative, a long-standing facet of the Trash Free Seas Program work, provides best practices to help look beyond the bow and make a difference on the water or at the dock. Together with recreational boating partners, including US Coast Guard Auxiliary flotillas across the country, we’ve created a suite of resources for boaters and boater certifications courses on boating practices and boat maintenance that reduce the impact on marine ecosystems. From safe oil replacement and properly stowing trash onboard to marina and waterway cleanups, Good Mate supports boaters with resources and best practices, so we can continue to enjoy time on the water. 

Check out all Good Mate and Marina Cleanup resources at www.oceanconservancy.org/goodmate

Boaters can also do their part any day of the year by removing any trash they come across while out on the water and helping us tackle upstream solutions by reporting these small or solo cleanups through our mobile app, Clean Swell. Once downloaded, it works in locations without cellular service!

A Message from The Wanderfund

At The Wanderlust Group, we are trying to better the world by getting people out in it. To do this, we need clean oceans, protected forests, a reversal of climate change, and, above all, a generation of new adventure-seekers dedicated to conserving the outdoors. Investing in those causes is as central to our business as investing in our product is. So as we grow our company, we'll be making investments to recognize our impact on the environment and our respect for it, and you can get involved.

Every quarter of every year we'll select another nonprofit working to support our environment and invest in its future. Some will be major global organizations, some may be small-but-mighty local efforts in key regions.

We invite you to suggest organizations for us to consider by messaging us on Twitter, FacebookInstagram or Linkedin, just use the hashtag #wanderfund with some details on why you think we should contribute to your recommended organization. You can also email us at wanderfund@thewanderlustgroup.com. We'll profile the organization we choose each quarter on our blogs and our social accounts. Thank you for joining us in this effort. 

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Want to see more of the Ocean Conservancy? Visit their website and donate! Follow the Ocean Conservancy on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn

Quotes have been edited for clarity. Stay up to date with The Wanderfund series and more on our blog and join the conversation on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Post by Janelle Cox

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