Global awareness of the threats faced by our oceans - with a particular focus on plastic pollution - has skyrocked in recent years and there’s a public demand for companies to change their business models to help protect the ocean.
Now, leading organisations across the scuba diving industry are stepping up by pledging to support an initiative called Mission 2020. Scuba divers are uniquely placed because they see first-hand the damage human activity is having on the ocean - so it’s no surprise this group is particularly invigorated to protect marine habitats for the future.
The dive organisations involved in Mission 2020 are committing to putting their environmental impact over their profit margins and make significant changes to their business practices - with a focus on single-use plastic - to help protect the ocean. We heard from just a few of the companies involved - who are also Reef-World’s partners - about what they’re doing and why the initiative is so important:
Fourth Element, the originator of the initiative, has committed to eliminating single-use plastic packaging from its products by World Oceans Day (Monday 8 June) 2020 and is inviting other scuba diving companies to join them in making a pledge. Inspired, hundreds of companies have signed up too.
At the ADEX Sustainable Diving Events in Singapore 2019, Jim Standing, Fourth Element, added that it’s hard to reward companies for being green but, frankly, we have to do it. If we don’t, the future is incredibly stark. It’s more expensive for us to do it as manufacturers, but we don’t have a choice. Fourth Element has accepted the higher cost and some of the kickback of making their product more expensive. But, fundamentally whether it’s five, 10 or 20 years down the line, there will be no environment left if we don’t do this. He is passionate that we have to do this until consumers have no choice but to be green.
Explorer Ventures Liveaboard Fleet is working towards the elimination of single-use plastics onboard its Caribbean vessels. It is also helping The Reef-World Foundation establish targeted liveaboard protocols as part of the Green Fins initiative with the hope of improving dive operator and liveaboard environmental policies worldwide.
Rachel Huber, from Explorer Ventures Liveaboard Diving Fleet, said: “The Explorer Ventures Fleet is aware that as a global dive business, we depend on a fragile marine ecosystem that is increasingly threatened by a multitude of factors. As divers, people on the 'front line' we understand we have an obligation and a responsibility to act as stewards of our oceans and environment, so that future generations will be able to enjoy nature as we do. Mission 2020, along with joining The Reef-World Foundation's initiatives, are a few ways we wish to make a broader impact.”
PADI is working towards a fully-integrated digital learning system, so as to reduce its dependency on plastic packaging and minimise the plastic footprint of hundreds of thousands of divers each year. The company is also encouraging its 6,600 PADI dive shops around the world to take action and say no to plastic. Many of these dive shops are Green Fins certified and, as part of the initiative, are working to minimise their use of single-use plastics. The Reef-World Foundation, international co-ordinators of Green Fins, provide training, resources and support to help these businesses in their mission to become plastic free.
Katie Thompson, Director, Global Brand + Mission at PADI, said: “As PADI has grown, our purpose has expanded to include a stronger responsibility and commitment to take care of the environment. As the largest certifying agency in the world, PADI and its network of divers, teaching professionals and dive shops can mobilize as a force for good that can impact the health of the underwater world. This commitment to ocean health has become an integral part of the PADI corporate ethos. To be the best in the world, we all must be the best for the world by protecting the ocean planet we love.
Thompson continued: “As PADI drives toward a fully-integrated digital learning system, we lessen our dependency on packaging, thereby minimizing the plastic footprint of hundreds of thousands of divers every year. We will further reduce plastic waste across our supply chain and rally our 6,600 dive centres and resorts to reduce single-use plastics. Under the a assertion that ‘together, we are a force for good’, PADI will encourage members to make a commitment. The PADI family can help play a critical role in protecting and preserving our oceans for the future if we make a Mission 2020 commitment a priority at our place of business. We invite everyone to make a pledge and to change their business practices in support of a clean and healthy ocean.”
blue o two has removed single-use plastics from its Red Sea fleet, equating to 60,000 bottles each year and is working to make all its fleet vessels single-use plastic free by the end of 2019. The company works with partners with similar philosophies, sources local, sustainable products wherever possible, runs reef clean-ups and also educates guests about how they can make a difference; for example by encouraging them to bring eco-friendly toiletries, such as sunscreen and toothpaste.
Alyson Tyler, Managing Director at blue o two, said: “We love our planet. We love the underwater world. That's why we're in the business of providing dive travel - creating inspirational experiences. We want to maintain and help restore it. Thus, it's no accident that Responsible Tourism is one of our three core values.”
ZuBlu, Asia’s leading dive travel agency, has recently launched an updated platform, which is designed specifically for scuba divers and adventure travellers, helps ZuBlu’s guests “dive green while exploring the blue” and make a positive impact when they travel by choosing to book with Green Fins dive resorts and liveaboards. By allowing their guests to make a more informed choice and support sustainable dive businesses, ZuBlu is helping to redefine dive travel and create more sustainable options for guests that are concerned about the environment. They have also created their own bamboo straws to make it easier for guests to refuse plastic straws!
For more information and to make your pledge, visit: https://www.mission2020.org/get-involved/