While some parts of 2021 definitely felt like the sequel to 2020, we found ourselves more prepared to navigate the ‘new normal’ and (sort of) get back to business as usual – and even achieve some pretty big wins for sustainability. Read on to learn more about the impact we made together this year, like preventing over 700,000 pounds of trash from endlessly floating around in the ocean, committing to going climate neutral, creating a sustainable line for Target, and more.
Despite ongoing limitations from the pandemic, we were still able to do what we do best: get our hands dirty.
The growth of our two international cleanup operations in Indonesia and the Philippines allowed us to conduct ongoing trash collections with the help of our partners, Sungai Watch and Plastic Bank. They’ve become a huge asset to our mission and have proven to be key in mitigating tons of trash from reaching the ocean, supporting local community members, and contributing impactful data to conversations around plastic pollution.
We also took on two major high yield cleanups in 2021, including an especially impactful trip to the South Dade Wetlands in South Florida to clean up protected ecosystems, national park islands, and coastal mangrove forests in partnership with Corona’s Protect Our Beaches campaign.
Lastly, this year we officially made it to the 4 million pound milestone of all-time trash collected!
2021 also brought the return of community cleanups (woohoo!). After more than a year of postponing our nationwide events, we were thrilled to be back in action, leaving local waterways better than we found them with our community volunteers and partners.
While COVID precautions meant a smaller-than-usual community cleanup tour, the UBB community kept the do-good spirit alive by hosting a massive 225 DIY cleanups all across the US.
Thanks to our inaugural partnership with Public Lands, our 6th annual Blue Friday was our biggest yet with 106 DIY cleanups, 331 in-person Blue Friday volunteers, and over 8,000 pounds of trash collected.
On Green Monday 2021, we announced that we’ve officially committed to becoming Climate Neutral Certified. The process (which begins early 2022) will involve measuring all of our greenhouse gas emissions, offsetting them with verified credits, and implementing an action plan to reduce our emissions year-over-year. We’re looking forward to taking this major step towards a more sustainable future and being officially certified by Earth Day 2022.
As a Certified B Corp, we voluntarily undergo regular third-party audits to ensure we’re upholding the highest social and environmental standards in our operations. In 2021, we completed the process of getting recertified and achieved a new score of 84.4 (from 80.1 in 2017). When it comes to B Corp scoring, each tenth of a point is hard-earned, so we celebrated the win while continuing to look ahead to the future.
To continue to work towards our pledge to remove all single-use plastics from our operations, our Quit Single Use Task Force was hard at work in 2021. Despite increases in some single-use items in the name of sanitation and safety, we were able to successfully accomplish the following plastic-removal initiatives:
In an effort to make sustainable, ethically-made products accessible to as many people as possible, we created The Impact Collection: an exclusive line of responsibly-made clothing and accessories for Target.
Everything in The Impact Collection counts towards our one-for-one trash removal mission, is produced in the same ethical facilities as our main line, and is crafted with planet-friendly materials like hemp, organic cotton, and recycled polyester.
By opting for more affordably-priced sustainable fabrics and streamlining our designs, we were able to create a planet- and cost-friendly collection that helps to make sustainable shopping more available, attainable, and approachable than ever before.
In addition to removing as much ocean-bound trash from the environment as possible, our goal is to become a one-stop sustainable marketplace. To curate a wide variety of sustainably-made essentials, we turn to partner brands whose products and missions we believe in just as much as our own. This year, unitedbyblue.com became home to 49 additional brand partners.