Next time you swipe your plastic, you could also be keeping it from polluting the ocean, thanks to the growing partnership between American Express and Parley, a global creators network raising awareness and inspiring change to protect our endangered waterways. The first ever credit card made from rescued ocean plastic will debut later this year.
“The environmentalist, Paul Watson, once told me that by 2048, all the fish in the ocean will be gone,” said Cyrill Gutsch, founder of Parley for the Oceans, at a recent event in New York City. “And we probably don’t have until then to change what we’re doing.”
Craving a space where creatives in design, technology, and media could be at the forefront of sparking environmental change, Gutsch launched Parley in 2013 and has since teamed up with a vast array of collaborators, from the United Nations and award-winning scientists to global influencers, artists, and youth ambassadors. They have also successfully launched major brand initiatives with companies like adidas, Soma, and Stella McCartney.
As a Parley partner, the Maldives is also a prime example of nature’s finest at the increasing risk of disappearing due to the effects of plastic pollution. For the past two decades, the chain of islands has become home to the ever-growing Thilafushi, the name of the islands’ floating landfill and final destination for many ocean-carried plastics.
To help ignite community engagement and inspire corporate partners to create tools for change, Parley opened the Parley Ocean School in the Maldives in 2015. Here, the organization hosts immersive workshops and talks with the backdrop of the islands to encourage partners, like American Express, to embody its “AIR” philosophy––avoid plastic when possible, intercept existing plastic from oceans, and redesign materials––in their work towards a solution.
“From your toothbrush to your yogurt cup, these pieces of plastic will never disappear,” explains Gutsch. “They only break into smaller and smaller pieces, as small as a grain of sand. Then, they enter our food chain, finding ways into the bellies of animals, and most likely ours.”
Since the partnership launch last summer, American Express has pledged to continue growing its sustainable practices around Parley’s AIR philosophy, from limiting single-use plastics in all major offices and Centurion airport lounges to intercepting marine debris and upcycling it into a redesigned version of its Card products. The company is also pursuing a zero waste certification for its New York City headquarters by 2025 and 100 percent of its employee business travel to be carbon neutral by 2021.