How a Non-Tipping Can Cooler Is Cleaning Coastal Waters

8 Dec

Toadfish, a retail brand offered in the industry by TD Fischer, donates a portion of each sale to restoring oyster beds – which helps filter out ocean pollutants.By Theresa Hegel

A can cooler that doesn’t tip over is a novel idea. But a non-tipping can cooler that also helps clean coastal waters is even more noteworthy.

That mix of functionality and sustainability is what prompted Wisconsin-based supplier TD Fischer (asi/90503) to introduce retail brand Toadfish to the promotional products industry.

“People like buying things with a purpose,” says Luke Armbrust, general manager of TD Fischer. “It’s not the only reason, but it might be enough to push you over the edge.”

Toadfish makes can coolers, tumblers, cup holders and dog bowls with non-tipping technology. The products include a patented suction cup on the bottom, so that they can easily be attached to boats, lawnmowers, golf carts and other vehicles. “It’s a no-tip suction cup; try tipping it over on a flat, smooth surface. It’s really, really, really difficult,” Armbrust says. “The only way you can remove it is to lift straight up. That’s the uniqueness of the item itself.”

Toadfish has also committed to replanting oyster beds for every product it sells. Oysters provide a number of benefits: Oyster reefs are a habitat for a variety of marine species, and their crevices provide shelter for fish and crabs to hide from predators. Oyster cultivation and harvest provide economic value to coastal communities. “Farmed oysters, clams and mussels account for about two-thirds of total U.S. marine aquaculture production,” according to Toadfish.

Plus, oyster beds help to improve water quality. A single oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “Oysters act like the ocean’s kidneys, filtering out pollutants and leaving behind clean water,” says Business Insider.

The cleaner, clearer water that comes from healthy oyster beds can help support underwater grasses, creating a habitat for young crabs, scallops and fish. So far, Toadfish says it has planted over 280,000 square feet of oyster beds. That’s enough oysters to filter more than 82 million gallons of water a day, according to the company.

“It’s a staggering number,” Armbrust says.

It’s TD Fischer’s second full year in the promo industry, and so far, Armbrust says interest in Toadfish products has remained strong. “We get a lot of reorders,” he adds. “That’s usually a pretty good sign.”

What Can You Do?

About 80% of ocean pollution comes from the land, much of it the result of runoff. And more than one-third of the shellfish-growing water of the U.S. is harmed by pollution, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Plus, nearly 13 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. Consider these steps to help clean up out waterways.

  1. Participate in a beach cleanup. The Surfrider Foundation, for example, has a volunteer network that conducts cleanups along the East and West coasts and the Great Lakes.
  2. Reduce water pollution at home. Minimize impervious surfaces on your property to reduce flooding and stormwater runoff. Don’t flush nondegradable items or dump toxic chemicals down the drain. Simple steps like these can help keep waterways cleaner, according to the NRDC.
  3. Look for products with ocean givebacks. Like Toadfish can coolers help build oyster beds to clean coastal waterways, another for-profit business, 4Ocean, sells products to help fund cleanup operations. The company sells a bracelet made of recovered plastic cord, post-consumer recycled glass beads and recycled stainless steel charms – and each one sold removes one pound of trash from the world’s oceans, according to 4Ocean.
  4. Reduce dependence on single-use plastic. Less than 10% of plastic waste gets recycled each year, with a significant portion ending up in the oceans where it can harm marine life. Switching to tumblers, stainless-steel straws, bamboo utensils and canvas tote bags – all of which are readily available in the promotional products world – can help consumers cut single-use items from their everyday life, thus reducing plastic pollution.

If you are interested in these products to promote your own business, or if you wish to see some samples, email for information and pricing.

And as always, if you really want to do something sustainable, do not buy promotional products. All products are consumption at one level or another. So if you must buy, 1) Buy local (i.e. made in USA), 2) Buy useful, long lasting items, 3) Buy sustainable/recycled/recyclable products if possible.

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