4ocean is a Public Benefit Corporation that is actively addressing and fighting the current ocean plastic crisis. For each product someone purchases at 4ocean, the proceeds are used to fund clean up of a pound of ocean garbage. This is a huge incentive in itself to want to support 4ocean, as consumers can really feel and see that their purchase is making an impact. Through the company’s efforts, 12 million pounds of garbage has been extracted from the ocean since the company’s conception in 2017. Every pound is documented by the company and tracked so that the company can ensure their workers are maximizing future garbage removals. Additionally, for each of its products, 4ocean has an associated ocean fact. For example, the t-shirt’s fact was that in a single wash up to 17.7 million microfibers are released and thus apt to end up in water streams. Yet, 4ocean offers a beneficial alternative with its t-shirt that helps reduce this amount. Other products have different ocean fun facts as well. For example, one bracelet informs the buyer about the Vaquita Porpoise, bringing attention to the alarming reality that only 10 are left. The company leverages this interactive manner to inform their consumers and start a conversation about important consumption considerations.
The company’s mission is to “end the world’s reliance on single-use plastic.” This movement is backed by its belief that “single action of individual people, collectively, has the power to change the world.” The company’s team members are taking action everyday to fight the ocean plastic crisis, and therefore consumers who purchase this product are able to take part as well by helping to fund and advance the mission. Moreover, 4ocean donates at least 1 percent of its revenue to non profit environmental organizations as an additional way to help our environment thrive. 4ocean hopes that through educating people it can stop plastic pollution “at its source” by “empowering people to end their dependence on single use plastic.” I stand by the mission of this company and look forward to seeing what it will achieve in the future.
The 4ocean logo t-shirt is made of one fiber, which is 100% GOTS-certified organic cotton. What does that mean? Well GOTS-certified stands for the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) which is a standard ensuring the company is utilizing only organic fibers, environmentally and socially responsible processing practices. Further, this is certified by a third party. In order to receive this certification, companies must go through annual on-site inspections. Therefore, this certification helps me to conclude that this company is sustainably driven and eco-conscious. On the 4ocean website, it cites how organic cotton, a natural fiber, can help reduce the amount of microfibers that get into our water streams through washes. This benefit along with the notion that organic cotton is a more sustainable option than regular cotton reinforces the high sustainability marks for this product. Organic cotton is better for the environment as it requires 91% less water and results in reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, it is produced without fertilizers and pesticides which helps promote soil quality and biodiversity. Moreover, this product is colored with low-impact ocean safe dyes which once again leads me to conclude that this product is sourced from materials with the environment in mind.
The organic cotton for 4ocean’s products is cited on its website as being grown in “India’s cotton belt on farms that are free from GMO seeds, pesticides, fertilizers and other toxic chemicals.” This means that the farms it is being produced on are all following stringent guidelines that promote environmental health. Furthermore, 4ocean is a certified B-Corp, which means that the company is meeting the highest standards of social and environmental performance as well as maintaining transparency and accountability. This certification evaluates how the company’s operation and business model impact its workers, communities, environment and customers. Therefore, I would assume that 4ocean is meeting high production standards that mitigate environmental degradation. However, I am unable to find 4ocean’s annual sustainability report or any in-depth detail about where the shirts themselves are manufactured and how they are. The only thing I can find is that the cotton is “spun, knitted, dyed, and sewn into t-shirts in a process that is 100% GOTS-certified.” Although this does lead me to be a bit hesitant in my score, given that it has the certifications that it has acquired, I do think 4ocean is implementing rigorous sustainable practices.
4ocean has also declared that it is climate neutral and in a partnership with Sustainable Surf’s SeaTrees project to offset its carbon footprint by planting mangrove trees and kelp forests. The company also declares on its website that it is developing a circular end-of-life plan for each of its products. This means that the company is actively working to eliminate all waste that would result at the end of its products’ life cycle. To do this, 4ocean has initiatives to “take back 4ocean products that customers no longer use so they can be properly recycled or transformed into new products.” To alleviate any customer pains that may result in this effort, the company has made it as easy as just contacting a customer service team member who will then send a prepaid shipping label for the consumer to easily send the product back. With all this in mind, I think 4ocean deserves a high mark for its production practices.
The information I was able to find in regard to who makes it was not very thorough. What I can find on the website is that it is grown in India, by local, “predominantly female farmers” who harvest, gin and clean the cotton. However, given that 4ocean is certified as GOTS, which certifies that it is operating with a high standard for protection of health, safety, and the rights of employees, I can only assume that the employees are treated well.
The company was founded by Alex and Andrew, two friends from Florida who took a surf trip to Bali and realized how pertinent the “ocean plastic crisis was” and were thus set on a mission to do something about it. Given their determination and the sheer positive impact they are creating for our oceans, as well as all of the certifications they have actively sought to acquire, I would assume that these two have set up a high standard of equitable employment practices. Thus, I am giving them a higher score, but hope that the company will produce and release thorough sustainability reports in the near future for the general public to access as 4ocean declares that it prioritizes transparency.