Founder of Parley for the Oceans
Cyrill Gutsch is an award-winning designer and brand and product developer based in New-York City. He was inspired to set up Parley for the Oceans after meeting captain Paul Watson, an activist for marine conservation and founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
Parley is a collaboration network where creators, thinkers, and leaders across disciplines including art, fashion, technology, and science partner up with major brands and environmentalists on projects to create awareness for the beauty and fragility of the oceans, and to develop and implement strategies that can end their destruction. Parley believes that to succeed, we must find ways to synchronize the economic system of humankind with the ecosystem of nature, and make environmental protection fiscally lucrative for pacesetting major companies.
In the first video of our Executive Education in Sustainable Fashion Master Talks series, WeDesign CEO Simon Collins speaks with Parley for the Oceans founder, Cyrill Gutsch about how his organization works to ignite collaboration, spur innovation and build consensus in order to find creative reuses for ocean plastic. Together they discuss some of Parley’s biggest partnerships, its future, and how design, big ideas, and creative projects can create change for good. Through his inspiring work, Cyrill makes a compelling case for a sustainable global movement no matter what your role- head of a company, a scientist, an individual and beyond, he urges all to galvanize the change which will improve our world.
It is estimated that anywhere from 1.15 to 2.41 tons of plastic trash ends up in our oceans every year, entering mostly through rivers. Earth’s ocean currents have formed five gigantic whirlpools called gyres or “plastic accumulation zones” where the plastic collects. The largest of these five gyres is named “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch” (GPGP) is an area twice the size of Texas or three times the size of France and located halfway between California and Hawaii. Most of the plastic trash sinks or remains in the gyres, but a significant percentage of it also washes up daily onto coastlines around the world.
The majority of the plastic in our oceans is broken into small pieces having had sunlight photodegrade it. This trash is scattered over massive areas much larger than the gyres themselves. This makes collection of trash even more challenging.
Concerningly, many aquatic life and seabirds mistake these plastic fragments for food and eat it, which according to new studies can cause significant damage the internal organs of these animals. It is thought that between 57,000 and 135,000 whales are entangled by plastic marine debris every year in addition to likely millions of birds, turtles, fish and other species affected by plastic marine trash (from boating, fishing etc.).
If we fail to clean up the plastic and stop the continued pollution of the oceans from plastic and other toxins, we soon face the potential extinction of many sea life species and the interruption of this entire ecosystem. In addition to organizations such as Parley, NGOs such as The Ocean Cleanup and Ocean Conservancy among many others are working on major cleanup projects and on building new technologies to get plastic out of our oceans.
“[Environmental consciousness].. is a supertrend. It’s a trend that will not go away. It’s a trend that started very niche but has grown… because it’s based on something that is very basic that lives in us. I think there is this global feeling in us that either leads into fear or this urge to innovate. This is the future… and anyone who doesn’t see that doesn’t have a right to be at the table anymore”