June is World Oceans Month, marked for spreading awareness of the earth’s oceans, coasts and marine life. It is specifically highlighted on June 8, entitled World Oceans Day. With all the attention marine littering has gotten over the last few years, corporate life needs to step up. This month provides them with the perfect occasion.
With more than 70 per cent of the earth covered in oceans, it is perhaps strange that this day hasn’t gotten the same recognition as Earth Day and Earth Hour. We all have seen pictures of sea animals trapped in plastic and heard about the floating garbage the size of entire countries. It may feel a bit distant to Norway, with our northern location and breathtaking fjords with clear blue waters. Yet the reality hit when attention was brought to the polluting cruise ships, the images of coastlines covered in trash and last but not least: the whale stuffed with plastic in its belly. It is even about to be exhibited in a museum.
Norway has a long history of being a sea and fishery nation. We are also present on the seas with oil production – with plans of extracting oil in areas that will affect marine life and the fish we live off. As oil also is used in the making of plastic, one cannot help but think of the irony: advocating for less interference with the oceans’ ecosystems is something we increasingly do, at the same time as petroleum is Norway’s most important (and profitable) industry.
This year, more than 80 000 Norwegians expressed an interest in taking part of Strandryddedagen – a national initiative to clean beaches across the country. That surely says something about an increased awareness of what state the world oceans are in. An increased awareness of how companies behave is also implicit here. They are not only expected to be against damaging initiatives, but also to walk the talk. In order to do that, they need real strategies (big or small) that deliver what they promise.
The faster they are at making these changes, the better, with the European Union considering a ban of disposable plastics such as cups, lids and cutlery. Joining in to do good will help building a future-proof reputation. Making these commitments during World Oceans Month is the perfect timing to “dive in”.
The risk of drowning in plastic turns out to be just as scary for a business. It’s time to not only walk the talk, but to swim it. Let’s hope more companies are ready to take the plunge.