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Positive Solutions for Planet Earth. From ghost nets to global co-operation.

The excellent BBC documentary Planet Earth 3, narrated by the legend David Attenborough, is back on our screens and highlights some of the incredible wildlife and wild spaces around the planet and the dangers and challenges they face.

From ghost nets and waste management to climate change, ocean acidification and global co-operation we have the biggest fight on our hands humanity has ever had. Within this blog you will see what we need to do, what great work is in progress but how so much more needs to be done.  Come join us as we size up the challenge, make a plan, roll up our sleeves and move into action.

A picture of a merman recycling ghost nets seen from underwater with a seal looking to camera
Cleaning our coasts of ghost nets and recycling them into products with purpose

It soon becomes glaringly apparent that we have many challenges; we wanted to discuss the issues and provide some solutions that can and are being implemented now. Yes, we are in crisis, but we need hope, as hope creates action rather than despair. We wanted to show that positive change is possible and that we can make fundamental changes and transform our wild spaces for good. We'd like to discuss the challenges in more depth to help people understand what needs to be done and provide some inspiration and ideas of how anyone can get involved and help get on their path to sustainability. Every journey starts with one step, so come with us and take your first step.

Firstly, it's essential to discuss the challenges we have right now on planet Earth. When we know the problems, we can find ingenious solutions and drive change. 

  1. Climate Change: The rise in global temperatures due to increased greenhouse gas emissions is causing more frequent and severe weather events, rising sea levels, and disruptions to ecosystems. This phenomenon threatens food security, water resources, and human settlements. This is real, it is happening, but it is not too late.

  2. Pollution: Air, water, and soil pollution from industrial activities, waste disposal, and agricultural practices harms the environment and human health. Air pollution contributes to respiratory diseases, while water pollution affects aquatic life and contaminates drinking water sources. It's a huge challenge, but we can all make a change, reduce our car usage, take the bus more often, cycle, and walk more. Imagine if we all cut one journey or cycled instead once a week.

  3. Deforestation: The rapid clearing of forests for agriculture, urban development, and logging destroys crucial habitats for wildlife and reduces the planet's capacity to absorb carbon dioxide, exacerbating climate change. We don't all need to turn vegan, but we could reduce our meat intake. Humans are not designed to eat so much meat, and neither can the planet cope. 

  4. Biodiversity Loss: The ongoing loss of plant and animal species endangers ecosystems and disrupts ecological balance. This loss can have cascading effects on food chains and human well-being. Install a swallow nest in your eaves, and put a bird feeder out with your fat. Keep it together and make a fat ball for birds rather than chucking it down the drain, as it clogs our pipes and leads to sewage outfalls and ocean pollution.

  5. Ocean Acidification: Increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are being absorbed by the world's oceans, leading to ocean acidification. This harms marine life, especially organisms with calcium carbonate shells and skeletons, like corals and molluscs. Change your suncream to a 'reef safe' version and or contact/tag your favourite suncream company and ask them to create one.

  6. Resource Depletion: The overexploitation of natural resources, such as freshwater, fisheries, and minerals, is depleting essential assets for human survival and causing irreparable damage to ecosystems. Recycle your phones and laptops. Try plant-based natural alternatives and support these companies over the big ones that are taking our collective resources to line their pockets.

  7. Waste Management: Disposing of non-biodegradable waste, particularly plastic, poses a significant challenge, with plastics finding their way into ecosystems, oceans, and the food chain. Ghost nets and the marine industries' impact on our aquatic life systems was highlighted in the first 2 episodes to dramatic and shocking effect. We will go into more depth on this topic later!

These environmental challenges are intrinsically connected and demand urgent attention and comprehensive solutions to ensure a sustainable future for our planet. At, we do all we can despite limited resources to bring attention to the challenges and actively demonstrate and provide solutions. We have always believed that design and technology are our saviours and that mankind can find answers if the will exists. The public is crying out for change, but many governments seem to lack the will or are being hamstrung by their corporate electoral cash cows. 

We need more government intervention, funding and support for the new green and circular economy. If the same budget afforded to the oil and gas industries was given to the green initiatives, we would see the change we all need. The technology is there, and numerous startups with brilliant ideas need to get the funding and recognition they deserve. Prince Williams's new Eco initiative, the Earth Shot Prize, is going some way to highlight these new innovations. Still, ultimately, we need the government to fund and incentivise more green tech. Rather than oil subsidies, we need green subsidies. Rather than oil tax rebates, we need green tax rebates. BP and Shell have paid almost no UK tax in recent years. Both firms received more money back from the UK government than they paid yearly from 2015 to 2020 (except Shell in 2017).

These oil companies ' symptoms include climate change, pollution, deforestation, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, resource depletion, and waste management. Yet, they continue to be funded by our taxes at our peril. Your vote this year counts! We have big elections in the UK and the USA, so make it count and ask your favourite party or candidates for their thoughts on the environment. You can also use sites like to talk directly to MP's. If enough of us take this action and declare our priorities, we can make a difference.

Of course, there are many challenges, and sometimes it can be overwhelming, so if you want to get involved and make a difference, pick one topic, and you'll find you will see results and will give you the incentive to continue to do more. Sustainability is a journey, so just start with one step in the right direction. It's how we got started and has enabled us to do so much more than we ever thought possible over the years. 

Ecotribo currently focuses on waste management, specifically cleaning the oceans and processing ghost nets and ocean plastics. Our aim is to clean beaches and recycle the waste collected from them, providing a positive outcome and inspiring people to collect more waste. Doing this can create a circular and renewable economy that benefits wildlife, natural spaces, and coastal communities. You can see our process in this video. We are collecting ghost nets that wash up on our local beaches with a range of beach cleaning groups. We then separate, clean, shred and pelletise the materials before injection moulding into our range of ocean plastic products.

The issue of ocean plastic pollution is staggering, with around 8 million metric tons of plastic entering our oceans annually. Recent figures from the WWF indicate that between 500,000 and one million tons of ghost fishing equipment are lost in the sea each year. Ghost nets are abandoned fishing gear that continue to trap and harm marine life. The impact is widespread, from the vast Great Pacific Garbage Patch to the entanglement of hundreds if not thousands of aquatic species. 

The Ecotribo Ocean Plastic Plant Pot sitting on a rock on a Cornish Beach
Ocean Plastic Plant Pots made from recycled ghost nets found on UK beaches

Microplastics, a byproduct of plastic breakdown, add another layer of complexity, entering the food chain and affecting marine life and human health. All those fishing nets that are lost at sea, combined with the consumer plastics, are breaking down and entering the food chain and destroying wildlife and their natural habitats. Its a big issue and there are some good people on the case. Check out the great work our friends at Cleaner Seas Group are doing to address the challenge of microplastics.

The importance of finding positive solutions cannot be overstated. Beyond the environmental toll, the contamination of oceans poses threats to our ecosystem, human livelihoods, and global well-being. Collaborative international efforts, innovative solutions, and responsible consumer choices are essential to reverse this trend and ensure a sustainable future for our planet.

Ocean Plastic Facts and Figures:

  1. The Enormous Scale of the Problem: It's estimated that around 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the world's oceans every year, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

  2. Plastic Accumulation in the Oceans: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, one of the most significant accumulations of ocean plastic, covers an area three times the size of France, as reported by the Ocean Clean-up Foundation.

  3. Impact on Marine Life: Marine animals often mistake plastic for food, leading to ingestion and entanglement. According to a study published in the journal Science, over 700 marine species are affected by plastic debris.

  4. Microplastics Pervasiveness: tiny plastic particles less than 5mm in size are found throughout the ocean. They result from the breakdown of larger plastic items and are ingested by marine life, entering the food chain. They have recently been found in human blood. This stuff is all-pervasive.

Ghost Nets Facts and Figures:

  1. Definition of Ghost Nets: Ghost nets are abandoned, lost, or discarded fishing gear that continues to catch marine life. These nets can drift in the ocean for years, causing ongoing harm.

  2. Impacts on Marine Life: Ghost nets are particularly hazardous as they entangle marine animals, including whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and various fish species. The entangled animals often suffer injuries, drown, or die from exhaustion.

  3. Extent of the Issue: The World Animal Protection estimates that millions of animals are trapped and killed in ghost nets annually. The problem is widespread and affects marine ecosystems globally. In 2009, the United Nations estimated that up to ten per cent of marine litter was ghost gear. This estimate derives a figure of 640,000 tonnes of fishing gear being lost annually into the ocean.

Finding positive solutions to the challenges of ocean plastics and ghost nets is crucial for several reasons. The staggering volume of plastic entering our oceans annually and the harmful effects on marine life, humans and ecosystems necessitate immediate action. 

The entanglement of marine species, the contamination of seafood, and the global economic impact on fisheries underscore the urgent need for sustainable practices. Additionally, the long-term consequences of unchecked plastic pollution threaten biodiversity, climate regulation, and overall planetary health. By actively seeking and implementing positive solutions, we not only mitigate these environmental challenges but also safeguard the well-being of our oceans, livelihoods, and the future of our planet. Initiatives like's ghost net Ocean Materials System, a local circular manufacturing process, exemplify the positive change possible through technology, engineering, design and collective efforts.

Importance of Finding Positive Solutions for our planet:

  1. Ecosystem Health: Oceans are crucial in regulating the planet's climate and supporting diverse ecosystems. Plastic and ghost nets disrupt these ecosystems, affecting marine biodiversity and, consequently, the planet's overall health.

  2. Human Impact: Oceans provide sustenance for billions of people through fisheries and provide economic livelihoods. The contamination of marine environments with plastics and ghost nets jeopardises seafood safety and threatens the livelihoods of those dependent on aquatic resources.

  3. Global Impact: Ocean plastic pollution is a global issue that transcends borders. It requires collaborative efforts on an international scale to effectively address its root causes and mitigate its impacts.

  4. Long-Term Consequences: If left unaddressed, the proliferation of ocean plastics and ghost nets will have long-term consequences, including irreversible damage to marine ecosystems, loss of biodiversity, and disruptions to the delicate balance of our planet's ecosystems.

  5. Human Responsibility: As stewards of the planet, humans have a moral and ethical responsibility to find positive solutions to these challenges. Sustainable practices, innovation, and collective action are essential to reverse the current trends and pave the way for a healthier and more resilient Earth.

In light of these facts and figures, it becomes evident that finding positive solutions is not just an option but an imperative for the well-being of our planet and future generations. We know there is a huge problem; we've taken it upon ourselves to raise the alarm, highlight the issues, and find and implement solutions.

What we are doing and need to do to help reduce ocean plastics and ghost nets:

Addressing ocean plastic and ghost net pollution requires a multifaceted approach that combines individual actions, corporate responsibility, and international collaboration. Here are some key solutions we would love to see or see more of:

Reduce Single-Use Plastics:

  • Encourage reusable items like bags, bottles, and containers to reduce the demand for single-use plastics.

  • Support and advocate for policies that restrict or ban certain single-use plastic products.

  • Reintroduce reusable glass bottles as the industry standard. It might take some time, but the results are worth it: 93% less energy is consumed by a refillable bottle that can be reused 25 times instead of one-way glass bottles or single-use plastic.

  • Reintroduce town centre taps and fountains. Extend refillable points across towns and cities to reduce consumption. Councils need to reconnect our ancient water fountains and taps. In Italy, we saw refillable water points with carbonated water! It's possible for the UK too!

  • The government could insist on and implement laws requiring companies to take more responsibility for their plastic waste. Imagine if companies were forced to implement refillable liquid soap dispensers in supermarkets and not just the hippy shops in the village? Imagine that aisle of plastic being reduced significantly by simply implementing a refill station/s?

Waste Management Infrastructure:

  • Invest in and improve waste management infrastructure to ensure proper disposal and recycling of plastics.

  • Implement and enforce regulations to prevent illegal dumping and littering. Currently, the fishing industry in the UK is not required to recycle their waste, so the vast majority ends up in landfill or incineration. Even that is only when the gear is landed and not lost at sea.

  • We need to incentivise fisherman to recycle their nets. Recycling the fishing nets can reduce the financial burden on the fisherman and encourage them to be recycled as they currently have to pay for their disposal. We save them money. What's a better incentive than money for humans? 

  • We want to scale our ghost net recycling operation and be able to process more nets. If you woud like to help us continue to grow our ocean plastic processing facility in the UK please get in touch.

Promote Circular Economy Practices:

  • Emphasise the importance of a circular economy where products are designed for reuse, recycling, and reduced environmental impact. Shout about great brands doing good work in the field or circularity. They need your support. Every share, tweet, like or comment helps these smaller companies in the age of the algorithm.

  • Implement legislation that encourages companies to make this a priority. Write to your MP!

  • Support businesses that adopt sustainable practices and prioritise environmentally friendly packaging, not big corporations that don't. Tell the big corps they need to change and tag them in your posts. A simple action that on mass could start to get noticed.

Clean-up Initiatives:

  • Support and participate in beach clean-ups and ocean clean-up initiatives. Start your own. We have accomplished so much by working with all our various beach cleaning crews, such as Clean Ocean Sailing and The Captain Paul Watson Foundation.

  • Innovative technologies, such as floating trash collectors and autonomous vehicles designed to collect ocean debris, can be employed for large-scale clean-up efforts. Check out Ocean Clean-up's fantastic work in this field.

  • Scaling our Ocean plastics and ghost net recycling and processing facility: Initiatives like our SEACHANGE ocean plastic plant pots and product range are positive solutions to ocean plastics and ghost nets that wash up on our shores. This material is a beautiful and robust material resource. We have created a network of beach cleaning crews collecting ocean plastics from beaches around the UK. We then clean and process it in our solar-powered factory. We are now pelletising the materials ready for manufacture into our products. So far, we have helped clean and process nearly 5 tons of waste material with our partners. We admit a drop in the ocean compared to what's out there, but it's a start and step in the right direction. Early in November 2023, we started pelletising the ghost nets and ropes we found. We are one of the UK's first, possibly only, ghost net processing facilities. We proudly collect UK waste found on our beaches, process it, and manufacture it into our products in Bristol, UK! Our dream has been to get this off the ground; we are finally doing it! It's small and humble, but it demonstrates what is possible. Help support our work by working with us (funding us), sharing our story or purchasing our ocean plastic products. 

Education and Awareness:

  • Increase public awareness about the impacts of plastic pollution on oceans and marine life.

  • Promote education on responsible consumption and waste reduction.

Innovative recycled and bio-based materials:

  • Invest in research and development of biodegradable materials to replace traditional plastics.

  • Explore alternatives like plant-based plastics that have a lower environmental impact.

  • Implement council recycling facilities for these new types of materials.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR):

  • Implement EPR programs, where producers are responsible for the entire life cycle of their products, including proper disposal and recycling.

  • Encourage companies to take responsibility for the environmental impact of their products.

Fishing Gear Management:

  • Implement regulations and incentives to encourage responsible fishing practices.

  • Develop and promote the use of biodegradable or easily retrievable fishing gear.

  • Support us as we develop and scale a facililty to recycle and process ghost net and ocean plastics in the UK

International Cooperation:

  • Foster international collaboration to address plastic pollution in a coordinated manner.

  • Support and adhere to global agreements and initiatives focused on reducing marine debris. On a positive note The High Seas Treaty, also known as the agreement on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction or 'BBNJ', was signed in New York on 20 September 2023 to develop vast protected areas covering at least 30% of the oceans by 2030. Lets keep up the pressure.

International Cooperation:

  • Invest in technologies that can track and monitor ocean plastic in real time, aiding in efficient clean-up efforts.

  • Develop and implement advanced recycling technologies to handle and process different plastics.

Support NGOs and Initiatives:

  • Contribute to or support organisations and initiatives actively combating ocean plastic pollution, such as The Ocean Clean-up.

Legislation and Enforcement of legislation for plastic pollution

Advocate for and support legislation addressing plastic pollution at national and international levels. We need more government support:

  • The objectives and actions underpinning The Marine Litter Strategy 2022 must be revised to help coastal communities and make the marine industry accountable. 

  • The UK Maritime Council and Marine Scotland must implement the 'Extended Producer Responsibility' on Fishing Gear, making manufacturers pay for collection and recycling. Something must be implemented to ensure this industry waste is appropriately managed, recycled and/or disposed of.

  • More recycling of all plastic waste around the world: According to recent estimates, the global recycling rate for plastic is only about 9%. This indicates a substantial gap between the production of plastic waste and the amount that is recycled. According to the UK Government (, The UK recycling rate for Waste from Households (WfH), including Incinerator Bottom Ash metal (IBAm) was 44.6% in 2021, increasing from 44.4% in 2020. There is a shift to be seen in the UK and certain EU countries, but more needs to be done both on these shores and globally. 

  • Strengthen enforcement mechanisms to ensure compliance with existing regulations.

As can be seen, the task is as vast as our oceans, but many hands make light work. Combining these solutions and fostering a collective commitment to sustainable practices can significantly reduce ocean plastic and ghost net pollution. Individual actions, corporate responsibility, and global cooperation are all essential components of a comprehensive strategy to protect our oceans and marine ecosystems. At Ecotribo, we are just humble ocean lovers and surfers who want to do something about the waste we see washing up on our local beaches. 

We simply started by taking that first piece of plastic and stuffing it in our wetsuit to drop in the bin when we returned to shore. That grew to inspire our OCEAN CHAIR made completely from recycled plastics in 2018 and has grown further to help clean tons of ghost nets off our local shores. Every journey starts with one step, and I hope we have inspired you with some things to consider so you can find your path. The planet needs you.

Oceans of love

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