shedding a bad wrap

As you may remember from an earlier edition of the newsletter, per and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS, are “forever chemicals,” designed to be indestructible, and commonly used to waterproof products. Everything from your raincoat to the wrap that your burger comes in at your favorite fast-food joint is treated with these chemicals in order to repel substances like water and grease. In recent years, these chemicals have been found to cause cancer, and there has been mounting pressure to develop PFAS-free packaging.

Good news! We’ve done it!

With Made From Stone technology, Okeanos has developed technology to make PFAS-free Paper-like wraps out of up to 80% calcium carbonate, meaning not only are they made without any “forever-chemicals” but they have a significantly lower carbon footprint, and less plastic! Our new Paper-like wraps are currently being manufactured in South America and perform just like the ones you’ve been using but without the potential carcinogens. These wraps can be made both with the standard MFS mixture, or a bioplastic for those looking to offer a compostable alternative.  We will have them available in the Americas in January 2021, in other parts of the world after Q2 2021.

If you’re interested in adopting this technology, please get in touch with our sales team today at:

Did you know that if every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet? That would be a wonderful gift for Mother Earth! According to Stanford University, Americans generate an additional seven million pounds of waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. While everyone enjoys opening gifts around the holidays, there are changes we can make, both big and small – to make a difference! If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. If you’re planning to shop this holiday season, here are a few more ways to do so sustainably:

  • Ask Amazon Prime to pack your order in one box!  – Did you know that you have the option to ask Amazon Prime to consolidate your purchases? According to Amazon’s website, your Prime orders will be consolidated into the fewest number of packages possible, with less single-use packaging. You just have to ask! Note that your items can take longer to ship this way as they’ll hold your box until all of your items are available, so get your shopping done ahead of time!
  • Try using a search engine that gives back. When you search for those stocking stuffers, save the sea at the same time with Ocean Hero. Advertisers pay Ocean Hero to advertise on their search engine. Ocean Hero then takes that money and hires collectors to recover ocean bound plastic. Collectors can then sell the plastic they collect back to PlasticBank in exchange for additional funds. Ocean Hero estimates that for every five searches, one bottle is collected. Since the program began in January 2009, Ocean Hero has recovered more than 10 Million bottles from the ocean! Now this is a mission we can get behind!
  • Drive change with your dough – Buy from organizations that have transparent sustainable practices and clearly state what their products are made from. Keep an eye out for “greenwashing,” or companies that refer broadly to “sustainability” without specifics! If we continue to support companies who pay attention to sustainability with our dollars, those who don’t will be forced to change their ways.

If you have other ideas for making the season a sustainable one, send them to us for a chance to be featured on Facebook or Instagram!

This month, Coral Crew Member and Director for the Center For Cetacean Research and Conservation in the Cook Islands, Nan Hauser, takes us inside her work with NASA on the ways in which whales are bio-indicators of climate change.  In the following Q&A, she highlights why the survival of whales as a species is vital to the health of our oceans, and the problems she’s seen firsthand that are contributing to their decline.

Q: How do whales positively contribute to healthy ocean eco-systems?   

A: Whales positively contribute to a healthy ocean eco-system by stimulating the growth of phytoplankton from the nutrients found in their poop. Theses nutrients pull carbon from the atmosphere and therefore provide a cleaner and healthier breathing environment for all animals, including us!  Because there are whales on the planet, approximately 400,000 tonnes of carbon are extracted from the air every year. This contributes to feeding other species (like fish) that feed on phytoplankton for their survival. All of this helps to keep the food chain in balance.

Q: Is it true that whale poop is partially responsible?  

A: Yes! Whale poop plays a large role in the environment by helping to offset carbon in the atmosphere. When whales poop, they excrete a huge load of nutrients that are crucial to the ocean (We call them Poo-namis!). The surface of the ocean is fertilized with nutrients that are fundamental to maintain healthy ocean ecosystems, the carbon cycle, and the global nutrient cycle.

Q: Approximately how many whales are in the ocean today?

A: This is a very difficult question to answer! We would need to look at the population abundance of each species and that would mean that we would need to be in every part of every ocean in the world!

We do know the population abundance of certain species. The International Whaling Commission estimates that 382,595 blue whales were caught between 1868 and 1978. The global blue whale population abundance is estimated to be 10,000–25,000, roughly 3–11% of the population size estimated in 1911.

There are still over 1000 whales killed commercially each year by countries such as Japan, Iceland, and Norway. And, an estimated minimum of 300,000 whales are killed each year in nets and other fishing practices while others are killed by noise pollution, boat strikes and habitat loss.

Q: NASA recently asked you to participate in research surrounding how whales are good bio-indicators of climate change. Can you explain to us how we learn from them? Why look to whales as opposed to other marine mammals? 

A: I have had discussions with NASA concerning how whales are incredible bio-indicators of climate change. Ultimately what happens to them will certainly happen to us humans! Whale populations may become extinct due to climate change and actually surpass deaths caused by habitat loss or overexploitation. The frightening thing is that this could possibly happen in the next few decades.

It is important to look at whales especially because they are affected directly due to migration patterns and feeding grounds at the Poles. Other species are important also since there are animals such as polar bears that may not have solid land to rest on due to melting ice.

Q: From your years of studying cetaceans, what is the most obvious sign of climate change in the oceans?  

A: The most obvious signs are changes in arrival of different species in certain areas. The whales seem to arrive a little bit later and later every year in the Cook Islands. With melting glaciers and water temperatures changing in feeding grounds of humpback whales, the krill and herring that the humpbacks feed on have had to move from their areas. The amount of krill in the Antarctic has decreased by 70 to 80% since the 1970’s. That is at an alarming rate. Whales need to feed!!

Krill, which are tiny crustaceans, need sea ice and cold water for survival. Because of global warming and increased temperatures there is a reduction in the growth and abundance of plankton on which krill feed.  The loss of sea ice removes the habitat that shelters both krill and the organisms they eat. Therefore, when Antarctic sea ice declines, the krill do also. Antarctic krill eat small plants like phytoplankton, as well as algae under the surface of sea ice.

Q: What are other obvious critical issues the oceans face?

A: I have noticed an increase of ocean plastic during my trips out on the water. It’s not just large pieces of plastic that I find or even the plastic bottles and jars, it is the tiny pieces of plastic that have broken down and have become known as micro-plastic. When I scoop into the ocean for bits of sloughed whale skin for genetic purposes, I often find tiny pieces of plastic in my scoopn net! It is heartbreaking to think that fish are eating the micro-plastic and we are eating the fish!

The rising of sea levels which threaten coastal population centers are also a concern. Air Pollution is responsible for almost one-third of the toxic contaminants and nutrients affecting coastal areas and oceans. Water pollution is also a problem. Factories and industrial plants discharging sewage and other runoff into rivers, streams and the ocean and pesticides and nutrients from agriculture ending up in the coastal waters, resulting in oxygen depletion.  Did you know that U.S. water-sewage treatment plants discharge twice as much oil each year as tanker spills? This kills marine plants and shellfish.

Watch some of her incredible work with whales on her website here

We are so excited to announce our new Coral Crew member, Calica! A Miami native turned LA resident, Calica has never been far from our Okeanos and has now decided to join the movement in helping protect it. Her weapon of choice? Music. Known for her Ethereal Music, Calica has made a name for herself on social media for her comical TikToks which feature a mix of original music, and genre bending musical covers. Calica uses her creative songwriting and musical capabilities to express herself which makes her the perfect new addition to our Coral Crew!

Calica has never been shy when speaking about social issues that are important to her, especially when it comes to our environment. We are so pleased to welcome her to the Crew and cannot wait to see the amazing things she accomplishes.  If you’re interested in joining Calica in helping rid the world of single-use plastic join our Coral Crew today!

Check her out on TikTok @itscalica and stay tuned for something cool!

Introducing our November Rockstar, Ibraheem AlTassan, President of Okeanos Middle East. Continue reading to learn more about why Ibraheem joined the Okeanos mission (hint: his beautiful family!), and why he’s always chosen to live by the coast.

Q: Tell us about your childhood. Did you spend a lot of time near the ocean as a kid? 

A: I was born and raised in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, a coastal city, then after high school I went to study in King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals KFUPM in Khobar, Saud Arabia – also on the coast.  Now I live in Dubai, UAE with my family and guess what… another coastal city! Apparently I feel trapped if I am living in a place without a coast!

Q: Was sustainability an important part of your education growing up?

A: Unfortunately, not. There wasn’t much emphasis when it came to education about what it means to be environmentally friendly. However, we were raised to respect and be thankful of the gifts we are given in life. So, for example, littering is considered a very nasty behavior in our culture. The good thing is that with time, people in our region are becoming more and more aware of the need to be sustainable, and change is happening.

Q: In the Middle East, do people in 2020 seem more conscious of issues surrounding plastic pollution and single-use items? 

A: Oh yes! People are more aware now. Especially the younger generations who question us on our behavior if they feel it might affect the environment. People are shamed if they litter and social media is helping spread the word. However, we have to admit that single-use plastic is part our daily routine whether we like or not and getting rid of it will not happen overnight. It is a journey that most people want to be a part of.

Q: The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi has committed to banning single-use items including cups, lids, cutlery, bags and plates by 2021.  Are companies taking this ban seriously?   

A: What I like about UAE and Saudi Arabia is that when regulations are implemented, they are truly implemented. It would be very hard to hide. However, to be fair, most companies have been doing their best to implement the changes even before the regulations; if not for the benefit of environment, then with an understanding that the whole world is moving in a sustainable direction and they need to move with it to keep their businesses.

But, there is something I also want to emphasize… the solution has to not only be environmentally friendly, it also has to make sense financially in order to be sustainable. We need to understand that although every company and person has a commitment to environment and to future generations, these are not all charitable non-profit organizations! This is what I like most about Made from Stone. It is a sustainable solution toward a brighter future… and a better financial future.

Q: What have you enjoyed most about working with Okeanos thus-far?

A: Working not only to make an earning, but achieving a good cause at the same time! The humbleness in the company is amazing. We all talk equally and I think this is derived from the fact that we all have a noble cause and goal we are all working toward…creating a better world for our future generations.

Q: If you could choose to visit only one body of water, which would it be?

A: Definitely the Red Sea. I cannot explain it, but there is something about the sea, the waves, that makes you feel you are interacting with a living soul.

Q: Have you learned any new skills during the Pandemic? How have you been keeping busy? 

A: Oh, many! We were forced to, but it had some hidden gems too. I do miss working in the office with the team but I learned that it is also possible to work remotely. Keeping busy was not an issue. The issue was how to maintain a balance between work and family. At the office, there was a physical separation (office / home) but working from home eliminated this barrier and access to laptop was too easy. However, with time we adapted and learned how to change with the new environment.

Want to join our team?
Check out our available positions on our LinkedIn.

San Juan del Río is a small town located in the central state of Querétaro, just a few hours from Mexico City. Like many towns in Mexico, handmade crafts and artifacts are an ancient art passed down to generations and generations. Here, marble is one of the most abundant materials in the region and is transformed into all sorts of beautiful pieces by the artists of San Juan del Río. Over thousands of years, the marble has formed and accumulated, waiting to be utilized and shaped into new forms to be used in different ways.

Manufacturers from all around the world have identified the marble of San Juan del Río as an exceptional example of Calcium Carbonate, known for its unrivaled quality, whiteness, and technical properties.  Like the artisans of the city, companies have given a new life to the marble through their own products from plastic and paper to cement and mortar manufacturers. It is the unique properties of Calcium Carbonate that have led it to be chosen by Okeanos to be part of its new and revolutionary developments to create a new generation of packaging.

Inspired by the wisdom of nature, Okeanos has modeled Made From Stone on the strength of the shells of crabs, mussels, and lobsters, and the simplicity and strength of an eggshell. Since the beginning of time, Nature has wisely chosen to package with Calcium Carbonate, and this innovation has inspired Okeanos to utilize it to help solve one of the greatest challenges facing humanity today: the contamination of our environment by single-use plastics.

Okeanos patented Made From Stone technology will reduce the amount of plastic entering the ocean by replacing most of the plastic with Calcium Carbonate. At the end of the product’s life, Calcium Carbonate disintegrates, simply returning to nature in a safe and friendly way, with a low Carbon footprint.

Through both art and science, the marble of San Juan del Rio is reborn time and time again. An authentic, precious gift from Mexico to the rest of the world. Check out all the places where Okeanos is located!

Watch our video about Okeanos Mexico here!