Sunday, 21 November 2021

Turtle Tracking Jewellery - Legit or Rip-off?

My Facebook and Instagram feeds have recently been inundated with sponsored posts from companies selling ocean-themed jewellery, especially turtles, each purporting to support ocean conservation and removal of plastic from the oceans.  Each post is full of glowing reviews from happy customers but their websites all lack details on exactly how they are helping the world's oceans or how much they are funding conservation projects. Something about them didn't feel right and I needed to investigate further so I focussed on one company that recently appeared in my Facebook feed: Ocean Project.co.



From their Facebook page (and yes, that is a copy and paste, not my typing errors):

"Ocean Project is a company with a vision to make a difference in our oceans ecosystems. We've donate to Ocean Cleanup Organization around the world. The amazing impact our brand has wouldn't be possible without YOU!"

I'm not at all sure what their vision is or what their amazing impact is but they are clear (it would seem) that YOU are helping them to achieve what-ever it is they have a vision about.  

Time to head to their website ... 

From there I can see they sell a range of jewellery items and clothes and that "Every purchase cleans our oceans."  In fact under their MISSION they claim: 

Elsewhere this is quoted as:

Interesting use of words: "pledged ocean-bound plastic cleanup" and I'm not even sure what that means but let's assume it means that they have removed that much plastic from the ocean.  55,156 pounds is the equivalent of just over 25 tonnes.  Now their Facebook page was set up in January 2021 and I am writing this 10 months later and by the magic of a bit of maths that means that they have, on average pulled some 83kgs of plastic from the ocean each day or the weight of a 13 stone person. Not bad you might think?  Hmmm ... 

Let's put this in perspective. It is estimated that around 10 million tonnes of plastic are dumped in the sea each year, or over 27,400 tonnes per DAY ... or approx 604,000,000 pound per DAY yet this company, Ocean Project.co has only cleared 55,156 pounds. And that is assuming the company was created in Jan 2021. In fact there is evidence online that it was created before then and is probably a rebranding of an older company that changed its name to try and evade the negativity around its claims and business model.

But I'm feeling generous and clearing some plastic is better than nothing, I suppose. However, I rather imagine the people who have paid out for jewellery and clothes might have expected a bit more plastic clearance.  Now, talking about the items they sell it seems they might just be overcharging their customers:

Right now their website shows this Save the Turtle Necklace at the currently "discounted" price of €22.14 (or somewhat bizarrely 4 interest free payments in dollars):



I did a little searching and it took very little time at all to find the exact same necklace on sale on a website called Aliexpress for discounted price of $0.01 (Normal price $4.87-$5.52)


 

I also found a Keep Our Sea Plastic Free T-shirt on Ocean Project.co's website for €26.57 (at a whopping 50% off!!) and the exact same T-shirt on Aliexpress for around €5.

That's one heck of a mark up and with large numbers of items being sold in the name of reducing plastic it would appear Ocean Project.co is making a lot on money whilst clearing a pitifully small amount of plastic.  But I'm afraid there's more.  On Ocean Project.co you can simply PAY to have a certain amount of plastic removed from the ocean through their Pull Plastic Project:

 

For $4.95 (approx €4.30 or £3.60) you can PAY someone to pull 2.2 pounds or 1 kilo of plastic from the ocean and you can even track where it is being removed from although I am intrigued to know how you track plastic clearance.

With the jewellery you are also supposed to get a tracking code that enables you to track what-ever animal item you have bought.  Comments online, though, show that these tracking codes are often missing or just one code is sent out time and time again. And it gets worse when you learn that you can actually track turtles for FREE via the Sea Turtle Conservancy who are also quite clear about the fact that Ocean Project.co and a raft of other similar companies have taken THEIR tracking codes without their permission.


Apparently I am not the only person who is unhappy with this company and on Facebook several Ocean Project.co posts have angry "likes" and one lady asked why this was. I replied but within a few hours my reply was deleted and I was blocked from being able to add a like/wow/angry etc or comment/reply. You'll also often see that a post has x number of comments but the actual number is lower. That is because comments are still counted even when the page has removed them.

 


It seems they did not like me pointing out that people search out some facts or suggesting they go and check reviews on Trustpilot (or other review sites).  Well over half the reviews are one star and talk about everything from goods not arriving, tracking codes not working or being duplicates and the fact that the items are shipped from China, where they are made, and are of very poor quality. One review I saw also talked about how much plastic packaging the jewellery arrived in.
 
Such merchandising of jewellery and clothes is not only restricted to turtles. In the last couple of days I have seen several adverts for similar companies relating to coral, elephants and bees. All of them claim to fund conservation in some way but are all vague in how they do this and their reviews on places like Trustpilot all tell a different story: non-delivery, poor quality, terrible customer service etc and that's without touching on their terrible environmental track record.  Oh and also be very wary of a company that will ship products worldwide. Even a sustainably made product that funds genuine conservation projects loses so much of its green value if it is shipped across the world to get to you.

Since first publishing this post another sponsored post from an obviously fake profile (which I have reported) came up on my feed and that led me to find a bit more information. The Facebook page Ocean Project .co is a SCAM also exposes the company's malpractice and has a link to a genuine turtle tracking charity and Ocean Project.co also features on the Facebook page Sponsored Ads Exposed, a page dedicated to exposing Facebook Sponsored Ads scams.

These types of company really make me angry. They exploit the emotions people feel when they see pictures of  sea creatures swimming through plastic-filled waters or worse still killed by plastic yet feel powerless to help. They take advantage of people's goodwill for their own financial gain.  Sadly all their customers really end up doing is buying some very overpriced products whose overblown profit margins line the pockets of whoever is behind these companies.  

If you genuinely want to help sea creatures then my advice would be to look for legitimate charities, the ones that are completely transparent about what they do with your money.  And before you part with any cash either to a charity or a company, do your research. Check out reviews on independent sites, search for any articles written about the companies and if in doubt don't buy from or support them. Why not have a read on this blog post I have written outlining the many ways to identify scam sites. 

Finally, how about doing your own litter clearing when you are next at the beach. I don't imagine it would take that long to get to a kilo on a badly littered beach. 

15 comments :

  1. You can't trust any advertising in Facebook, 90% of it is from scammers. Etsy also has a huge problem with people selling AliExpress products bought for £1 and selling them for £10 while claiming they're homemade, which of course they're not.

    I also get a lot of so-called mental health jewellery compaines reaching out on Instagram wanting me to be am embassador, but they never ever tell me how buying their products helps mental health in anyway

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  2. Thank you for doing all this research and for exposing the BS that sites like these shovel. There are so many of them, it's kind of infuriating as I am sure many customers want to genuinely help. I hope this post serves as a reminder to all reading to do a little digging and/or trust your gut when the site/product seems a little off.

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  3. This is very interesting and very appalling. I can't say that I'm surprised, though, unfortunately. Great work researching them and calling them out. I wish social media would do half the work you did here to root these scams out.

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  4. Thanks for sharing this eye-opening information. It's just so sad that there are brands and companies that will fake about helping the ecosystem just to grab potential customers. Big no no!

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  5. I've seen this advert myself several times. Its shocking that they think they can get away with scamming people like this.

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  6. Wow I honestly never realised any of this and has certainly been a real eye opener thank you for sharing

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  7. These sort of companies make my blood boil! So wrong on every level. Thanks for doing all that research, if only more people thought to check before buying.

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  8. Wow I've seen this advert too, how terrible these things get away with it. Thanks for sharing

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  9. Is it in any way possible to get your money back? I ordered over a week ago and they do not respond to any of my inquiries, I want to cancel the order as it says it has not been shipped yet.

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    1. If you paid by credit card or paypal you could contact them for assistance.

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  10. I wish I could say I was surprised to hear that a company was doing this :( I had never heard of this particular company before, so thank you for doing all this research and compiling the information. When I was looking at buying Christmas presents, I came across an "Adopt a Sloth" gift that would have been perfect, but after some reading realized it was similar to what you've shared with very little money actually going to any animals or rehabilitation.

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    1. I am so glad my blog has made a difference and you didn't end up lining the pockets of these scam artists. I've not seen the sloth one but have heard people talking about tracking polar bears and elephants. Thanks you for sharing on Twitter as well. Much appreciated.

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  11. This is such a shameful things for company to do! And most of all trying to get people to give money for something they are not even doing or helping with! Thank you for sharing this, hope it can help people not fall for it!

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  12. It's so sad to see companies benefiting other people's love for the environment and animals like this. I don't believe that they are all supporting in the way they say they are. Good on you for raising awareness of this issue.

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  13. Wow, that’s terrible things aren’t what they seem. Thanks for sharing and making more people aware.

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