When I started diving in 1972, I bought all my personal scuba gear (mask, fins, snorkel and booties) from a large dive shop in Los Angeles that I later went on to work for. Back then, I could wander through a dive shop and see masks, fins and snorkels all hanging on the wall just as you see today but the only difference is that at the bottom of the displays were stacks and stacks of boxes holding all the different models, sizes and colors. The same went for regulators, wetsuits, BCs and pretty much everything else that was sold in the shop.
Fast forward to 2023. Recently I was in Florida looking over a shop that I was considering buying. While the showroom was clean, organized and set up just as the majority of shops are today, the back store room made me think. All the fins were stored on large, steel, industrial shelving and it’s not that they had a large selection of brands and colors, it’s that all the fins were packaged in large plastic bags. Hundreds of them! While we sell masks, fins and snorkels for our customers, the shear volume of plastic is what made me cringe.
So why is this worthy of a blog? It’s the hypocritical attitude that scuba gear manufacturers have taken that is the topic of this writing. While foundations and advocates like One Ocean Conservation, Ocean Conservancy and Force Blue are spending millions of dollars dedicated in cleaning up the plastic that pollutes our shores and kills the sea life, most diving manufacturers are shipping out their products to be sold in thick, plastic bag and boxes. Is it really worth the few cents they save by using plastic vs. recycled cardboard? If cardboard accidentally ends up in the ocean, what happens? It turns to mush and falls apart. What happens to a large plastic fin bag that ends up in the ocean? Nothing! It becomes a trap for an unsuspecting sea creature that may mistake it for a jellyfish.
We do receive scuba gear in boxes from some manufacturers and I applaud them. Scubapro, HOG, Dive Rite, Ratio and many others are packaging their gear in recyclable boxes which is how it needs to be. Go ahead and charge an extra 25 cents for the box. I doubt that many customers will care. The companies that say they support ocean conservation and then package their gear in plastic bags need to stop a minute and think about the irony of their actions.
When you buy your scuba gear from us at Precision Scuba in Gilbert, Arizona near Phoenix, we do our best to eliminate plastic from a sport that is working hard worldwide to heal the oceans and maintain a healthy eco-system.