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?

 

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

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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.

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?

No way. It would be MUCH more effective for the company to make the product out of a less destructive material to begin with. I addressed this issue in another post last week. Read to the bottom: /2012/05/what-can-environmentalists-learn-from-bad-kitties/

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.

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.

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.’

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… Read more »

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!

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… Read more »

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.

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.

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.

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

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 amultitudeof 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… Read more »
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… Read more »

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.

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.

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…

Exactly! You rock, woman!

They’re messing with the wrong person … :)

Good for u! :-)

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.

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.

That’s what I’m here for.

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.

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

I got your back, Terry!

Did they ban you from Twitter? Either way you could bash them through there… Throw in some #@ tags to alert other groups involved in ocean conservation too! I know I’ll be sending some tweets later! ;-)

I left a quick comment: “I think Turtlebacks are a cool idea, but that photo makes me wince. I hope you’ll consider making them out of more turtle-friendly materials!” I was surprised that Turtlebacks ‘liked’ my comment. I doubt Turtlebacks has a social media policy in place about responding to FB criticism, so whoever running it responded defensively and fearfully, but…I dunno, conversation might still be possible.

You can always tweet at them

A Dislike button is needed on fb.

Recyclable alluminum or steel turtlebacks would be cool!

Turtleback obviously doesn’t get “IT.” They’re unable to comprehend their implication(s). If we see it we have to bring it into peoples’ awarenesses. Many thanks.

Censoring criticism on Facebook pages and blocking users is nothing new to me. I got deleted and banned from Earth hour’s page for criticism of their choice to feature F*** Yeah Polar Bears on their page. I thought it was better suited for a personal page. Profanity on that type of page is not professional. Earth Hour was meant for us all, not just those who throw that word around all day. I now “like” Anti-Earth Hour and celebrated by turning on every light in my house this year. A big difference from talking to people about signing up for… Read more »

Joshua–well said

This is the letter I sent to the email address provided. I am interested in hearing their response: Ryan, Firstly, let me just say that it is very unprofessional for you to delete people’s comments from your page. If you are willing to have this discussion over email, you ought to be willing to have it in public, on Facebook. While you have every right to moderate what is posted on your Facebook page, it is intellectually dishonest to continue to delete comments from people with genuine concerns about your product. While that’s your prerogative, I hope that you would… Read more »

Yuck! Go get ’em Beth Terry!!! That is plain old irresponible and lame-oh ta boot. Thanks for sharing this.

I blew it. When I saw their defense I wrote: “I think your product is stupid and wasteful.” That’s why you are a published author, Beth, and I am the person people are afraid to talk to.

Beth, thanks for writing this!! Here are the comments I posted on their “fan” page: “It seems to me that we have developed our lives, and been conditioned to think we need things that we don’t really need. Turtlebacks is a case-in-point. I understand that it is *just* one company, but there is a horrible cumulative effect from all the companies out there that create these things that are not needed in the first place: ones that have adverse effects on the environment. We need to simplify our lives, by reducing and eliminating the things in it that we… Read more »

Beth,
I just posted on the turtleback page: ”I planned to write to ask Turtlebacks to use a less harmful product – I’d personally like a wooden or metal one – but, having read so many of the comments above, I wonder what chance our planet has of us changing our mindset in time. Such incredible selfishness from some of your readers!”
Honestly, many of the comments sickened me.

I whole heartedly disagree w censorship of any kind but feel some of you have gone a little overboard here…
We live near the beach; we volunteer w community clean ups as well as w the local aquarium w sea turtle nest identification & marking…
Yet my family still *gasp* takes plastic toys to the beach. It’s about personal responsibility & teaching others to be good stewards of the planet not simply raging the minute you see anything made from plastics…

I tried commenting about how Tim Horton’s Roll Up The Rim contest is encouraging the use a disposable cups and they did the same thing: deleted the post (within seconds) and banned me.

That is so frustrating. If a company stands by their product, they should be able to defend it in public.

I whole heartedly disagree w censorship of any kind but feel some of you have gone a little overboard here…We live near the beach; we volunteer w community clean ups as well as w the local aquarium w sea turtle nest identification & marking…Yet my family still *gasp* takes plastic toys to the beach. It’s about personal responsibility & teaching others to be good stewards of the planet not simply raging the minute you see anything made from plastics…

I agree that we need personal responsibility, but the the ocean is being polluted with plastic faster than we could ever hope to educate everyone about responsible use, and other people’s pollution affects us all, you know? That’s why it frustrates me to see companies promoting disposable plastic at the beach, like this company is. I want them to at least get rid of the red Solo cup in their advertising, which is made from polystyrene, the same kind of plastic as Styrofoam except without the air. It’s pretty toxic stuff.

@BethTerry – I created an account hopefully that helps w the posting lol I totally agree w you re: the toxicity & sheer wastefulness. And yes educating people does take time but seems a better use of energy in the long run. Just last weekend my girls & I were at the beach and these (obvious) tourists were snorkeling… one man came up to the surface w a glass beer bottle; showed his friends; then turned & tossed it back out into deeper water!!???! You’d better believe I told them when they came out that it would have been just… Read more »

@KiKi76@BethTerry I think we need to approach the problem from all angles, and normally I am all about the education. But the images on this company’s FB page were too much, as well as the censorship. Okay, have to get off the computer for the weekend. Just arrived at the retreat center and not actually supposed to be on here. :-)

Naming it after turtles is in such poor taste and then deleting any dissenting comments and acting as though the commenters are political wackos because they care…sheesh!

Here’s what I wrote:?Turtlebacks I think that the debate on environmental issues is coming up because you are claiming that the product is “eco-friendly.” If you don’t want the debate, please consider changing your advertising.

Here’s what I wrote:?Turtlebacks I think that the debate on environmental issues is coming up because you are claiming that the product is “eco-friendly.” If you don’t want the debate, please consider changing your advertising.

Unable to post my comment on FB. My computer binds up when I click on “Send”. I’d like to say: Plastic and the oceans don’t mix. Turtles and other sealife mistake plastic for food, eat it, and often die. Surely there’s something else you can create that we won’t feel bad about in 100 years. The pieces of cups and holders will still be floating about in the water. Is that a green legacy that your grandchildren will appreciate and be proud of?

I whole heartedly disagree w censorship of any kind but feel some of you have gone a little overboard here…We live near the beach; we volunteer w community clean ups as well as w the local aquarium w sea turtle nest identification & marking…Yet my family still *gasp* takes plastic toys to the beach. It’s about personal responsibility & teaching others to be good stewards of the planet not simply raging the minute you see anything made from plastics…

I don’t even understand why this product is necessary. If I have a drink at the beach, I can just burrow it into the sand to keep it standing up, and if I’m worried about sand getting on the bottom of it, I can nestle it in my beach towel before burrowing it. Also, they make coolers with cup holders on the top of them – if you have a cooler, you can bring drinks in stainless steel or glass bottles (although beware broken glass, as Beth mentions, if you choose glass) instead of drinking out of a disposable cup.

Here’s what I wrote:

?Turtlebacks I think that the debate on environmental issues is coming up because you are claiming that the product is “eco-friendly.” If you don’t want the debate, please consider changing your advertising.

Unable to post my comment on FB. My computer binds up when I click on “Send”. I’d like to say: Plastic and the oceans don’t mix. Turtles and other sealife mistake plastic for food, eat it, and often die. Surely there’s something else you can create that we won’t feel bad about in 100 years. The pieces of cups and holders will still be floating about in the water. Is that a green legacy that your grandchildren will appreciate and be proud of?

I whole heartedly disagree w censorship of any kind but feel some of you have gone a little overboard here…
We live near the beach; we volunteer w community clean ups as well as w the local aquarium w sea turtle nest identification & marking…
Yet my family still *gasp* takes plastic toys to the beach. It’s about personal responsibility & teaching others to be good stewards of the planet not simply raging the minute you see anything made from plastics…

I don’t even understand why this product is necessary. If I have a drink at the beach, I can just burrow it into the sand to keep it standing up, and if I’m worried about sand getting on the bottom of it, I can nestle it in my beach towel before burrowing it. Also, they make coolers with cup holders on the top of them – if you have a cooler, you can bring drinks in stainless steel or glass bottles (although beware broken glass, as Beth mentions, if you choose glass) instead of drinking out of a disposable cup.
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