#Shades4Seas Campaign Empowering Plastic Oceans to Clean Millions of Square Feet of Coastline and to Educate Thousands

Mike Lewis, Marketing Director at Zeal Optics, does images.

Centerpoints, juxtapositions, offsets, contrasts; Lewis is a human and professional who has made a career and a life in visuals.

But as with many individuals in the field of optics, he knows that the most significant visual is not an image, but a certain kind of truth.

A fundamental.

So for Lewis and the team at Zeal Optics, manufacturing and selling sunglasses and goggles without core innate values is a missed opportunity. Which is how their partnership with Plastic Oceans International on their #Shades4Seas campaign came to fruition.

#Shades4Seas was launched during the pandemic as a way to help cleanup the world’s coastlines, which ties into Zeal Optics’ mission to protect natural resources and reduce the plastic going into them through the use of bio-based materials.

“It was a core value,” says Lewis. “We knew we wanted to drive the program with a key relationship – and in our search for a compelling non-profit to work with on this project, our friends at 1% for the Planet connected us with Plastic Oceans International. Their team’s collaborative approach and global reach were a perfect fit and we’ve been thrilled about how closely they have worked with us to create a great partnership.”

The campaign has been running since April 1, with the concept being pretty simple, but powerful. For each pair of sunglasses, goggles, or accessory lenses purchased, Zeal donates enough funds to keep 1,000 square feet of coastline protected for one year. Last year this resulted in 12,000,000 square feet being protected, with over 50% of that done in habitat of endangered species, and thousands of individuals being educated of plastic pollution.

The collaborative goal for #Shades4Seas is glaringly simple and complex to get people to think about the impacts of their decisions. Consumers, and their power. But generally this comes from pressure groups or advocacy, not from the company itself.

“That is what is amazing about Zeal Optics,” says Tod Hardin, Chief Operating Officer for Plastic Oceans International. “Generally as an NGO you have to advocate for change and building in ethics with private companies. But with Zeal Optics it was completely the reverse. They were already convinced of their values, and brought them to the table. The joy of working with their team at Zeal Optics is not just in getting things done, and 1000ft of coastline cleaned for every sale, but the fact that it is a window into a corporate future, where companies understand that economics cannot be the sole measure of success.”

zeal optics shades4seasIn this world – of the present but also hopefully very much of the future – even something as simple as buying a pair of sunglasses can go a long way to environmental protection.

Mike Lewis has the numericals of the challenge very much in hand: “Our goal this year is to clean 15 million square feet of coastline through #Shades4Seas and, even more importantly, to raise awareness and get people to act and vote with their dollars.

“When working with NGOs, it’s great to find organizations that go beyond just accepting donations and collaborate to raise the impact and awareness of campaigns. The team at Plastic Oceans International have done that and so much more and we’re excited to continue to deepen the relationship.”

Relationships, alliances, friendships. Built terms. Things that cannot appear overnight but require time, and trust – and working together to achieve common goals. Recognizing that we aren’t alone, but – whether we like it or not – exist as a collective, and need to evolve our cultural processes to best processes and outcomes.

So #Shades4Seas may be a promotion, yes, wherein something innately good gets funded for every sale, but it is also a much greater thing, the development of a vision for the future, where business and environment and profit and product are at the heart of a coherent, healthy here-to-come.

The #Shades4Seas campaign runs through 11:59pm CT on April 30.

Jon Bonfiglio is a broadcast and print journalist, as well as Managing Editor for Plastic Oceans International’s written content.