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 email@example.com 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?