As time goes on, we are learning more about our earth and our oceans, and how they impact our day-to-day life. It is no longer just about living side by side with planet earth, everything is linked and intertwined.  Essentially, we have a symbiotic relationship with nature – something we have been treating as a parasitic relationship. We have been taking more than we can give, and it is time to start giving back. We already know that climate change is a real danger, and that our oceans store large amounts of carbon dioxide – so what steps, however small, can we do as individuals to help?

It’s a question we’ve been thinking about a lot at jellybean HQ and as the leading agency in food and drink marketing and PR, we’ve been working hard to make sure our sustainability credentials are up to scratch. Earlier this year we launched the Beanifesto Pledge, and this National Marine Week, we put words into actions when we took part in our first river clean.

Our first river clean – July 2022

On 28th July 2022, a bunch of keen beans gathered at the office for our first (of many) river cleans as a company! We stayed local, focusing our attentions on the Leatherhead stretch of the River Mole. It was such a rewarding experience and felt great knowing that we were doing good for our marine life.

Here are what some of the beans had to say about it:

“It was great to head out with the bean team and make a difference to our local river. Even better as the sun shone and nobody got too wet!” – Susan

“Very satisfying morning, loved that we made a difference to our local area, and we were even thanked by passing walkers.” – Sue

“It’s amazing how much of a difference we made, in only 2 hours we came away with three LARGE bags of litter! All in all, a great morning out with the beans enjoying the sun, talking to our community, and making a positive difference to our environment.” – Liv

“It was great to get out of the office to make a difference to our local community – not just to nature but also in making our local area cleaner to enjoy for its residents.” – Emma

“It was such a rewarding morning spending time with the beans, and we were amazed to see how much litter we were able to clear up and feel like we really made a difference to our local area. It was our first clean of many and we’re excited for what’s to come as we embark on this journey to become more environmentally conscious” – Courtney

“It was such a positive experience to be able to clean up an area I’ve spent many years walking along and enjoying. Seeing the impact, the jellybean team made and being thanked by locals was very rewarding” – Gemma

Why is it so important? We dived a little deeper to understand the threats we are causing – both in the sea and on land.

Threats to Marine Life

Throughout our existence, we have relied on the oceans for a number of things – food, recreation, our economy, waste and even 50% of our oxygen – but human actions are taking a toll on life in the sea – including some of our activities on land.

  • Overfishing – As we know, one of the biggest threats to our oceans is overfishing. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 34.2% of fish stocks are either fished to capacity or overfished1. This usually occurs due to a change in the balance of the ecosystem. A decline or loss of the largest predators will change the predator-prey balance, which in turn disrupts the health of the ecosystem.
  • Population growth – Almost everything we interact with in our daily life involves water. It is one of the most integral and important aspects for every human being. One of the consequences of overpopulation is the pressure that is put on available water resources to serve a growing population. Approximately 50% of our population will be living in regions around the globe that are considered “water stressed”, a term defined as when the demand for water exceeds the amount that is available, either due to lack of it, or poor quality, by the year 2030 – which currently sits at 15%. Overpopulation will strain current water resources to their limits, cause an increase in water pollution, and lead to an increase in civil and international conflicts over existing water supplies.
  • Pollution – Our population has a huge effect on water pollution from many different aspects of our lives. In agriculture, many pesticides and nutrients are used which can end up in coastal waters and rivers, which results in oxygen depletion, killing marine plants and shellfish – also known as Eutrophication. Crossing streams and rivers, the water filled with these toxic chemicals land in the ocean, resulting in harmful algal blooms – which not only threatens marine life, but also humans through the food chain. Factories, industrial plants and even ships discharge sewage and other runoff into the oceans, whilst oil spills pollute the oceans. Air pollution is responsible for almost one-third of the toxic contaminants and nutrients that enter coastal areas and oceans. And one of the biggest pollutants in our ocean is one you may not have considered – noise. Noise pollution disrupts marine life so much so that it can lead to an increased risk of mortality – this is due to disturbing their behaviour, physiology and even their reproduction. In recent decades, the level of marine noise pollution has increased significantly due to the intensification of fishing, shipping, and infrastructure development.
  • Introduced species – Invasive species such as poisonous algae, cholera, and countless plants and animals have entered harbour waters and disrupted the ecological balance. These are seen as one of the top five major threats to our ecosystem today. They can cause extinctions of native plants and animals, reducing biodiversity, competing with native organisms for limited resources, and altering habitats. Invasive species can have impacts on our marine industries, such as growing on marine structures, killing, or competing with marine aquaculture species and by spreading disease.
  • Sea levels – Global warming is causing sea levels to rise, threatening coastal populations. The annual rate of seawater rise during the past two decades has been 0.14 inches a year2, which is around twice the average speed of rising over the preceding 80 years. The rise in seawater level means more wetland flooding, destructive erosion, and agricultural land contamination and more importantly a serious threat to the habitat of several plants, fishes, and birds.
  • Acidity – Ocean acidification is the continuing decrease of seawater pH caused by the absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It has the power to greatly endanger the lives of marine organisms, as well as humans who depend on fish and fish products for their daily sustenance. Studies have shown that the decreased pH levels affect the behaviour of several marine species, putting them at life-threatening risks.
  • Technology developments – As we know, our technology has developed at a rapid rate, which, unfortunately has created a threat for marine life. 200 years of carbon-intensive industrial production have put a tremendous burden on the ocean. The ocean is being depleted of critical fish stocks, swarmed with discarded plastic, and made increasingly acidic. However, technology can also be one of biggest aides in saving our oceans – as we are using it to discover a deeper understanding of our marine ecosystems, creating renewable energies and using it to help clean up our oceans.

How it underpins our economy and welfare

Did you know productive and diverse marine ecosystems are the bedrock of a sustainable society and economy? A healthy ocean can contribute to the global economy and creates millions of jobs in fishing, tourism, transportation and other sectors. The ocean provides food, energy and medicine. It is the source of recreation, discovery, identity, and culture for billions of people. The oceans are critical to the healthy functioning of the planet, supplying half of the oxygen we breathe and absorbing annually about 26% of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. Roughly 61% of the world’s total gross domestic product comes from the ocean and the coastal areas within 100 km of the coastline3. Coastal population densities are 2.6 times larger than in inland areas and benefit directly and indirectly from the goods and services of coastal and marine ecosystems, which contribute to poverty eradication, sustained economic growth, food security and sustainable livelihoods and inclusive work, while hosting large biodiversity richness and mitigating the impacts of climate change.

So aside from our river clean, how else is jellybean making an impact?

  • We are a climate positive workforce through Ecologi Zero whereby employees entire (home and work) carbon footprint is offset by planting trees and investing in verified climate crisis solutions – and are working towards becoming a carbon neutral business by January 2030
  • We operate an electric car and cycle to work lease purchase scheme
  • We use the most efficacious eco-friendly cleaning products throughout the premises
  • We use a renewable only energy supplier
  • We recycle all waste including food, paper, cardboard, and coffee pods
  • We discourage any single use plastic on the premises
  • We strive to ensure all our suppliers of digital services are all carbon neutral and our web host was the first to become so in the UK
  • We are members of the Surfers Against Sewage Ocean Network and are committed to support regular beach and river cleans

These are just some of steps we are actioning to help to save our oceans. We plan to get involved in a wider beach clean later in the year and are constantly keeping up to date on what more we can do to help. Have you been involved in any beach/river cleans or been up to some good for the ocean recently? Let us know on our socials and tag us @jellybeanagency.