This post is going to be a bit dry (ironic pun intended) but it's worth reading, please persevere to the Gandalf joke at the end.
Merpola is all about that sea life and it would be totally irresponsible of us to steal inspiration from it whilst turning a blind eye to the massively catastrophic pollution and destruction happening to the worlds' oceans. It’s why we do stuff like try to raise awareness by printing conservation tips on the backing of our Clamshell Clan pins. We'd like to do more in future, starting with this blog post.
So we were slightly perturbed when our Facebook feed exploded with images of Shell Crowns last week. They look absolutely beautiful it’s true, but seashells aren’t the equivalent to rotting leaves on the forest floor (although they also have their purpose), shells are an important part of the oceans’ ecosystem. Picking up rubbish left behind on the beach = fab. Taking too many seashells that have washed up on the shoreline so you can make yourself a mermaid crown = you’re a dick. Here’s why:
In a THIRTY YEAR !-long study, it was found that the number of shells on our coastlines are on the decline; in large part to humans scooping them up, known as “beach grooming”. The removal of shells can potentially accelerate the pace of shoreline erosion, it's a big issue. Fish use them to hide from predators and hermit crabs use them as temporary shelters. Shells also provide materials for birds' nests, a home for algae, sea grass, sponges and a host of other microorganisms. THINK OF THE MICROORGANISMS!! Seashells are cute as heck, we agree, but they’re also an extremely important part of the coastal ecosystem.
And then someone had the idea to turn them into crowns *internet explosion*.
Chelsea Shiels, a 27 year old florist from Melbourne, Australia and one of the more famed shell-crown creators (who currently has a sold-out store on Etsy) took to her Instagram page to quell the inevitable shell backlash from crustacean-crazies like us. She stated:
“I buy from suppliers that only collect shells from over flowing beaches around the world. My main supplier donates 30% of proceeds back into a variety of charities... mainly to help preserve the great barrier reef! I love the ocean and I assure you I have great suppliers and pay lots of money for my shells for this reason! I do not support anyone stealing from our beaches to make a profit. I would also prefer these be recycled and revamped to be seen in all their natural beauty, given new life rather than crushed and made into different types of adheasives and concretes.”
- Chelsea Shiels
And if the above is true, it’s wonderful, good for her! This blog post wasn’t written to shame anyone. Just try not to steal shells from your local beach. Don’t go on holiday and abduct a poor little crabs’ home. Nothing says ‘bellend’ like a shoddily hot glued shell-crown, remember that.
Here are 5 easy things you can do to help #ProtectOurOcean.
- 71% of our earths surface is the ocean. Support organisations, legislators and laws that protect the ocean and the environment. Get educated and use your vote on politicians who have a positive environmental agenda. Healthy oceans = healthy planet.
- Global fisheries are on the verge of collapse. Support sustainable fish farming, learn where your meals come from & eat sustainably.
- Up to 80% of marine debris is wasted plastic. Reuse & recycle plastic bags and water bottles to create less waste. Try to avoid using plastic shopping bags altogether, consider investing in a cloth bag.
- Pick it up, especially near the beach. Keep the seaside beautiful and protect the wildlife that lives there - both under and over the waters surface.
- Don’t exploit marine life for fashion. Tortoiseshell accessories, Shark teeth necklaces and coral jewellery may look cool, but you’re funding a cruel and often illegal trade which encourages the hunt for innocent creatures.
P.s., whenever you see seashells in any of our photos, you can be assured they are and will again be recycled. Even the backing card above is printed on recycled card - we try to keep it green (/blue) whenever possible. It’s the least we can all do. As tongue-wagging poet Miley Cyrus says: “we only have one sun, one moon, one me, one you”. So let’s take care of ‘em.
Thanks for reading through this seashell lecture, I appreciate it wasn't one of our more fun reads. Tell a friend to empty their pockets next time you're at the beach. You can even scream "YOU SHELL NOT PASS!" like Gandalf, make it fun. Just make it stop.