The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
May 3, 2012

This Summer… Go to the Beach but Leave Your Turtleback and Other Plastics at Home

Would you believe there is a company not only producing plastic products for the beach, but actually promoting them using a photo of an ocean wave sweeping one of their plastic gizmos, filled with a disposable plastic cup, towards the sea?

I wasn’t planning on posting a rant today, as I’m leaving in a few hours for my semi-annual silent meditation retreat, but I got all fired up after I and several friends left comments on Turtleback’s Facebook page explaining how plastic pollutes the ocean and asking the company to reconsider its product materials, as well as marketing images.  I would have probably just been satisfied to leave my comment and drop the issue, until I discovered that Turtleback had removed our comments and banned us from further interaction on its page!  That kind of censorship from a company is dishonest and irresponsible, regardless of the product in question.

What’s Wrong with Turtleback?

Turtleback is a plastic cup holder meant to keep your beverage container upright on the beach.  That in itself is a pretty good idea, no?  But there are problems with the current incarnation of this idea.

First, while the Turtleback is made from recycled plastic, that fact doesn’t matter when we are talking about ocean plastic pollution.   Recycled plastic is just as lethal to marine animals as virgin resin is.  And if swept into the ocean, it will add to the growing plastic pollution problem.  It’s not a good idea to bring plastic toys or other plastic gadgets to the beach.  You may not intend to leave them behind, but things have a way of being swept away by wind and waves when you least expect it.  As one of my Facebook friends wrote, “My girls and I do beach cleanups often and it’s nauseating what gets left behind. Absolutely sickening! If someone doesnt realize that he/she left one single sneaker behind, I’m sure a Turtleback cup is more likely to be left behind.”

To be clear, the Turtleback is only the cup holder, not the cup itself.  But that leads me to issue number two: Using an image of a disposable plastic cup to sell your product.   I’ve seen these red Solo cups left behind on the beach.  In fact, there’s a photo of one in my book!

Third, another Facebook friend mentioned the irony of naming a plastic product meant for the beach after a marine animal that is often harmed by plastic pollution.  Many sea turtles mistake plastic for food and have been harmed or killed by it.  A recent study of leatherback turtle autopsy records found plastic in one-third of the animals’ GI tracts.

Please ask Turtleback to Rethink Their Product

I dislike thoughtless plastic products, but today I think I dislike censor ship even more.  Will you please take a moment to leave a message on Turtleback’s fan page asking the company to redesign the product to be made out of a material other than plastic, and even more important, to stop using images of disposable plastic cups to promote its brand?  A stainless steel cup or bottle would be a good choice, since it won’t break like glass and pose a hazard to bare feet.

Next, copy your comment here and let us know what you wrote.  Turtleback may delete your comment, but at least it will be preserved here, and we can deliver them to the company en masse.

Other ways to contact the company if you get banned from posting on their Facebook page:  Email the owner at ryan@turtlebacks.net or send a message on Twitter.

UPDATE:  Turtleback has responded to the criticism with a post of their own.  Unfortunately, those of us who left comments cannot respond to their post because we have been banned.  Please leave your own comment.

Find Plastic-Free Beach Toys and Dishes

So, what can we bring to the beach instead of plastic toys, buckets, shovels, cups, containers, utensils, and all the many plastic products meant for the beach?  For sand castles, how about old metal pots and pans, metal buckets, big metal spoons or garden trowels, stainless steel cups and bottles and foodware, etc.  What are your favorite non-plastic items for fun in the sand?

 

124 comments
Raw2034
Raw2034

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Maria of Culture-ist Mag
Maria of Culture-ist Mag

Thanks for sharing. I am going to express my deep concerns to Turtleback for producing plastic toys for the beach.

Maria of Culture-ist Mag
Maria of Culture-ist Mag

Thanks for sharing. I am going to express my deep concerns to Turtleback for producing plastic toys for the beach.

Sven
Sven

it is perceptive of you to foresee the dangers of this product. However, as you prove in your post, it isn't the Turtleback's fault, but the users who leave them behind. The company is not and should not stop selling a product that they designed and it's not their fault if consumers are cluttering beaches. Wouldn't it be wiser and more effective to spread the word to consumers to be careful rather than demand that a company recall their product?

BethTerry
BethTerry

Wow.  Thanks for the link, and thanks for linking back to this article on the Unclutterer website.  I love and hate Unitasker Wednesday.  I love that someone is pointing out all these useless single-purpose items, but it also just makes me feel so sad that these things exist.  I just left my own comment on her blog.

Emily
Emily

My comment on Turtleback's Facebook page:

 

It seems that your product is marketed for use in the surf at the beach. I worry about the risk of your plastic product, plus plastic cups or glass bottles/aluminum cans being swept out into the ocean. I walked 25 miles along the coast in MD/VA recently, and the amount of plastic trash I encountered was atrocious. I would caution others about buying this product.

Maeve
Maeve

Here's my comment on their Turtleback's fan page:

'I understand your intent is to provide people with a useful way to hold their drinks. However, selling a plastic item for use at the beach does not strike me as a good idea at all. I do beach cleanups and the amount of plastic items that wash up on shore or get left behind is truly appalling. It's unsightly, and worse, marine animals ingest this stuff and can die from it. Please rethink this unnecessary and potentially harmful item.'

Maeve
Maeve

Here's my comment on their Turtleback's fan page:

'I understand your intent is to provide people with a useful way to hold their drinks. However, selling a plastic item for use at the beach does not strike me as a good idea at all. I do beach cleanups and the amount of plastic items that wash up on shore or get left behind is truly appalling. It's unsightly, and worse, marine animals ingest this stuff and can die from it. Please rethink this unnecessary and potentially harmful item.'

Danger Kayutak
Danger Kayutak

I disagree with you, just because the intention is not to leave these articles of plastic behind does not mean that they won't be.

 

I don't think very many people who post here are saying that nothing should ever be made out of plastic, but do you honestly see the necessity for this product? Does this product add such benefit to humanity that is is worth the risk?

 

We honestly need to start asking these questions because once you or I deem this particular item is no longer of any use to use where does it go? It doesn't really biodegrade and if it's not in direct sunlight it hardly degrades at all, at least not in our lifetime. Burning it comes with it's own set of issues as does recycling.

 

I'm glad you and your family hold on to the plastic you bring to beach, I commend you for it. I am sure you will be passing it all to your children when they leave home because otherwise the plastic toys they have now will end up in a landfill.

 

I think the majority of people are too relaxed about this issue, including yourself.

 

Danger Kayutak
Danger Kayutak

I disagree with you, even if the "intention" is not to leave it behind it doesn't mean that it won't be. No one even hinted that the majority of people leave things like plastic buckets and plastic bags on the beach, but they get left behind nonetheless.

 

 

Danger Kayutak
Danger Kayutak

This is the contents of the email I sent to the ryan@turtlebacks.com:

 

From: Danger Lee Kayutak [mailto:dangerleekay@gmail.com] Sent: Thursday, May 03, 2012 8:25 PM To: ryan@turtlebacks.net Subject:

 

To Who it May Concern,

 

The construction, intended use and marketing of your Turtleback drink holder is at best thoughtless and irresponsible, at worst a malicious disregard for our environment and the animals and people who live in it.

 

Perhaps you think this language is harsh and judgmental? I would then ask you to take a walk through any park, on any beach or riverbank anywhere is this country but make sure to bring something to collect all the empty plastic soda bottles, candy bar wrappers, and potato chip bags that currently foul our green places and waterways. For every piece of plastic garbage you see bobbing in the ocean there are many more lurking just under the water, too many to accurately count. You have designed a product that, by it’s very nature, is likely to become another piece of plastic garbage. Garbage that will be floating in the ocean long after we are gone, long after our children are gone.

 

Perhaps you will also say that you have the right to free enterprise and that jobs are at stake. My point of view is that your right to free enterprise ends where our right to have clean, healthy and plastic free places to have fun and enjoy nature begins.

 

I am also saddened by the fact that you are banning people from voicing this message on your Facebook page, that seems to be the most telling indication of what kind of company you have created.

 

I will never buy your product and will encourage everyone I know not to buy your product.

 

Thank you for your time,

 

Danger Lee Kayutak

 

 And this was his response:

 

Thank you Danger. Did you have any constructive advice on how to improve our product?

 

Does anyone have any ideas for him?  I can't think what it could be made out of that is not either impractical or equally environmentally damaging.

 

Danger Kayutak
Danger Kayutak

This is the contents of the email I sent to the ryan@turtlebacks.com:

 

From: Danger Lee Kayutak [mailto:dangerleekay@gmail.com] Sent: Thursday, May 03, 2012 8:25 PM To: ryan@turtlebacks.net Subject:

 

To Who it May Concern,

 

The construction, intended use and marketing of your Turtleback drink holder is at best thoughtless and irresponsible, at worst a malicious disregard for our environment and the animals and people who live in it.

 

Perhaps you think this language is harsh and judgmental? I would then ask you to take a walk through any park, on any beach or riverbank anywhere is this country but make sure to bring something to collect all the empty plastic soda bottles, candy bar wrappers, and potato chip bags that currently foul our green places and waterways. For every piece of plastic garbage you see bobbing in the ocean there are many more lurking just under the water, too many to accurately count. You have designed a product that, by it’s very nature, is likely to become another piece of plastic garbage. Garbage that will be floating in the ocean long after we are gone, long after our children are gone.

 

Perhaps you will also say that you have the right to free enterprise and that jobs are at stake. My point of view is that your right to free enterprise ends where our right to have clean, healthy and plastic free places to have fun and enjoy nature begins.

 

I am also saddened by the fact that you are banning people from voicing this message on your Facebook page, that seems to be the most telling indication of what kind of company you have created.

 

I will never buy your product and will encourage everyone I know not to buy your product.

 

Thank you for your time,

 

Danger Lee Kayutak

 

 And this was his response:

 

Thank you Danger. Did you have any constructive advice on how to improve our product?

 

Does anyone have any ideas for him?  I can't think what it could be made out of that is not either impractical or equally environmentally damaging.

 

Irina
Irina

I worte this on FB and tried to be kind in hopes that my message will be better received: This is a nice idea but I would reconsider the plastic material and go with something sustainable and not harmful to animals and ocean plants instead. The turtle logo is really cute so your marketing is on the right track...now the product just needs some extra development!

Green Jeanne
Green Jeanne

In Earth On Turtle's Back the Woman From The Sky had a dream about a tree being uprooted and when she looked through the hole where the tree once was she fall down from the sky. Doves caught her fall but couldn't put her down because there was no land nothing but water and she didnt have webbed feet like the animals did. All the animals get together to help her and one by one each animal took his or her turn turning to pull earth up to the surface from under water. Every last animal failed.

But it was the muskrat that was determined to the death that she would pull up earth and she did! She came back up to the surface half dead when she realized she had nowhere to put earth.

Turtle came in the mix and instructed her to place earth on his back and that he would bare it. They placed Woman From The Sky on the earth and she began to plant and grow trees, grass, forest, and run rivers and streams alond the earth.

This was the beginning of life.

Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Could_you_explain_the_earth_on_turtles_back#ixzz1tx5yzpWJ

In Earth On Turtle's Back the Woman From The Sky had a dream about a tree being uprooted and when she looked through the hole where the tree once was she fall down from the sky. Doves caught her fall but couldn't put her down because there was no land nothing but water and she didnt have webbed feet like the animals did. All the animals get together to help her and one by one each animal took his or her turn turning to pull earth up to the surface from under water. Every last animal failed.

But it was the muskrat that was determined to the death that she would pull up earth and she did! She came back up to the surface half dead when she realized she had nowhere to put earth.

Turtle came in the mix and instructed her to place earth on his back and that he would bare it. They placed Woman From The Sky on the earth and she began to plant and grow trees, grass, forest, and run rivers and streams alond the earth.

This was the beginning of life.

Nancy Nordman
Nancy Nordman

I commented as well, hopefully maybe even if it doesn't change the companies mind, it may bring more awareness to the consumers of this product of the problems in the ocean.

Nancy Nordman
Nancy Nordman

I commented as well, hopefully maybe even if it doesn't change the companies mind, it may bring more awareness to the consumers of this product of the problems in the ocean.

YourOrganicLife
YourOrganicLife

So Beth, I see that you've been unbanned, but now I've been banned.  I'm trying to decide if it's even worth emailing the owner.  He really doesn't seem to get it, but like you, the censorship pisses me off.  So, I may still write him, but I think I need to cool off first.  And, I wasn't going to write about this issue, but now that I've been banned, I most certainly will be doing so next week.  I'll be sure to link to your post, too.

YourOrganicLife
YourOrganicLife

So Beth, I see that you've been unbanned, but now I've been banned.  I'm trying to decide if it's even worth emailing the owner.  He really doesn't seem to get it, but like you, the censorship pisses me off.  So, I may still write him, but I think I need to cool off first.  And, I wasn't going to write about this issue, but now that I've been banned, I most certainly will be doing so next week.  I'll be sure to link to your post, too.

Roseanne
Roseanne

This is what I posted - kind of borrowed from some earlier posts I agreed with.

A cute product with, no doubt, good intentions on the part of its developers. If you made it out of a renewable biodegradable resource I would actually buy one. Promoting the use of plastic oceanside is no good.

Roseanne
Roseanne

This is what I posted - kind of borrowed from some earlier posts I agreed with.

A cute product with, no doubt, good intentions on the part of its developers. If you made it out of a renewable biodegradable resource I would actually buy one. Promoting the use of plastic oceanside is no good.

Michelle Cassar
Michelle Cassar

I made a comment. Maybe it´ll be deleted. But at least they might read it first.

Michelle Cassar
Michelle Cassar

I made a comment. Maybe it´ll be deleted. But at least they might read it first.

lacedog
lacedog

I think you guys need to relax a little instead of assuming that every piece of plastic brought to the beach will be left behind and become marine debris. It is about personal responsibility. My kids have a multitude of plastic beach toys that never get left behind, because I am responsible. We bring reusable, insulated plastic cups for our beverages that are better options than glass (should never be on a beach)  or metal (get too hot in the sun. Each cup cost $15 so I am not about to leave it at the beach. We carry in-carry out everything from a beach day.

 And please don't consider me a wacko. I work for a state environmental agency and I coordinate all the statewide beach cleanups each year, so I know my marine debris issues.

Karen Lian
Karen Lian

After a couple of comments there I wrote to Ryan and he has responded very professionally and reasonably, I genuinely don't think he realized the full implications of the product and the knock on effect of encouraging people to bring more rubbish to the beach but now the troll supporters are all up in arms and will just respond defensively with their derp derp uneducated and stupid comments so I've decided not to continue wasting my time with the dumb.

Karen Lian
Karen Lian

After a couple of comments there I wrote to Ryan and he has responded very professionally and reasonably, I genuinely don't think he realized the full implications of the product and the knock on effect of encouraging people to bring more rubbish to the beach but now the troll supporters are all up in arms and will just respond defensively with their derp derp uneducated and stupid comments so I've decided not to continue wasting my time with the dumb.

Grant Maddock
Grant Maddock

Thanks for a very enjoyable hour. I went to Turtlebacks page, opened their photos and littered them with mostly humorous plastic pollution commentary. I had to stop when my humor ran dry! Lots of pics left to comment on though! Such fun...

Grant Maddock
Grant Maddock

Thanks for a very enjoyable hour. I went to Turtlebacks page, opened their photos and littered them with mostly humorous plastic pollution commentary. I had to stop when my humor ran dry! Lots of pics left to comment on though! Such fun...

Sarah Willis
Sarah Willis

One of the best things about going to the beach is you can just stick your water bottle in the sand for an all natural cup holder. What a pointless product.

Sarah Willis
Sarah Willis

One of the best things about going to the beach is you can just stick your water bottle in the sand for an all natural cup holder. What a pointless product.

Melissa Brown
Melissa Brown

I hate to be a negative Nancy Joshua etc, but I think telling someone they "need" to do something is likely to turn them off. Why not try "I/we would consider buying your product if it were made of other materials". They don't "need" to do anything.

Melissa Brown
Melissa Brown

I hate to be a negative Nancy Joshua etc, but I think telling someone they "need" to do something is likely to turn them off. Why not try "I/we would consider buying your product if it were made of other materials". They don't "need" to do anything.

Sharyn Dimmick
Sharyn Dimmick

I just posted or their page and wrote an email to Ryan as well. I'll be following along with this.

Autumn Dann
Autumn Dann

this was a huge eye opener to me that it is likely that millions of people like Ryan have no clue about plastic. he prob thought he WAS being responsible in using recycled plastic. omg its frightening but Beth thanks to you people are learning. and joshua thank you for spelling it out so beautifully.

Sharyn Dimmick
Sharyn Dimmick

I just posted or their page and wrote an email to Ryan as well. I'll be following along with this.

Autumn Dann
Autumn Dann

this was a huge eye opener to me that it is likely that millions of people like Ryan have no clue about plastic. he prob thought he WAS being responsible in using recycled plastic. omg its frightening but Beth thanks to you people are learning. and joshua thank you for spelling it out so beautifully.

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

Wow.  Thanks for the link, and thanks for linking back to this article on the Unclutterer website.  I love and hate Unitasker Wednesday.  I love that someone is pointing out all these useless single-purpose items, but it also just makes me feel so sad that these things exist.  I just left my own comment on her blog.

Danger Kayutak
Danger Kayutak

I disagree with you, just because the intention is not to leave these articles of plastic behind does not mean that they won't be.

 

I don't think very many people who post here are saying that nothing should ever be made out of plastic, but do you honestly see the necessity for this product? Does this product add such benefit to humanity that is is worth the risk?

 

We honestly need to start asking these questions because once you or I deem this particular item is no longer of any use to use where does it go? It doesn't really biodegrade and if it's not in direct sunlight it hardly degrades at all, at least not in our lifetime. Burning it comes with it's own set of issues as does recycling.

 

I'm glad you and your family hold on to the plastic you bring to beach, I commend you for it. I am sure you will be passing it all to your children when they leave home because otherwise the plastic toys they have now will end up in a landfill.

 

I think the majority of people are too relaxed about this issue, including yourself.