Cyrill Gutsch – 2017 Environmentalist of The Year

We all love the oceans. Yet somehow, in some way, we all contribute to their destruction. Cyrill Gutsch, Founder of Parley for the Oceans, is on a mission to reverse the trend and defend the air we breathe. 

In 2012 a conversation with legendary activist Captain Paul Watson awakened award-winning designer and strategist Cyrill Gutsch to an alarming truth: the oceans are dying, and we are killing 

them. Through faulty materials, broken systems and outdated thinking, we are destroying the magic blue universe upon which all life depends, including our own.

Everyday items and choices that define our world are also killing it, filling our lifeblood with plastic and removing the life that allows for our continued survival on this planet. Unwilling to accept this reality, Gutsch decided to do something about it; he’s now committed to igniting for others perspective-shifting symbols and moments like the one that led him to commit his career to the protection of our oceans. He aims to bring all minds and talents, even seemingly disparate ones, together for solutions, and his vision is one of positivity, creativity and collaboration — three things sorely needed in the environmental cause.

Cyrill Gutsch founded Parley for the Oceans to provide a collaboration network where creators, thinkers and leaders can come together to raise awareness for the beauty and fragility of our oceans and collaborate to end their destruction. Parley is known for renaming sustainability into ‘Eco Innovation,’ a concept realized through high-caliber collaborations and the introduction of Ocean Plastic™, a range of premium materials for the sports, fashion and luxury industries made from upcycled plastic debris collected on high seas, beaches and in remote coastal communities.

As scientific understanding of marine plastic pollution deepens, public awareness grows. Although the threat has risen in the global consciousness, solutions remain elusive. Recognizing the complexity of the issue, Parley set forth a new approach: a strategy driven by creative collaboration and eco innovation, based on the fact that every second breath we take is generated by the oceans. The strategy — Parley AIR: Avoid, Intercept, Redesign — is shifting the conversation and driving change across industry, government, and in the creative communities that mold reality.  

Parley understands current plastic is a design failure, seeing the long-term solution for marine plastic pollution not in recycling, but in the redesign of the harmful material, processes and thinking. As a catalyst innovation, Ocean Plastic™ provides an immediate replacement for new, virgin plastic that raises awareness of the issue while also providing a funding mechanism that allows for the implementation of the Parley AIR Strategy in four key areas: Communication and Education, Direct Impact, Research and Development, and Eco-Innovation.

What started in 2012 as a collaboration space has fast evolved into a global movement and active network. In April 2015, adidas became a founding member of Parley and the first to commit to the Parley AIR Strategy. The growing roster of collaborators, ambassadors and supporters who have since stepped up to pledge Parley AIR and commit to creating change ranges from private sector pacesetters to governments, to individuals from diverse areas of expertise, including: Corona (AB-InBev), Stella McCartney, the Republic of the Maldives, the United Nations, NASA JPL, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Diego Luna, Greg Long, Ramon Navarro, Chris Hemsworth, Doug Aitken, Chris Jordan, and leaders from across the ocean, space, science, surf, and creative communities.

The Parley mission is not solely to show people the answers to massive and complex ocean threats, but to invite everyone to harness the power of imagination and own their impacts in building solutions. This is a movement we are creating together. By answering Gutsch’s call to action and emulating his example, we may be fast enough to meet the ultimate deadline.