Project Ocean

Whale shark

In the next decade, our oceans could hold one kilogram of plastic for every three kilograms of fish. Project Ocean 2015 is setting out to raise awareness and drive change to reduce the amount of plastic entering our oceans.

Join us in taking action against plastic.

What's the problem?

By 2025 there will be one tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish in the world’s oceans if nothing changes. A substantial amount of plastic in our oceans comes from consumer waste. Unfortunately, only 24% of the 5 million tonnes of plastic used in the UK each year is reused or recycled (1) and according to a recent study, globally 13 million tonnes of plastic waste enters our ocean every year (2). 

Plastic bottles, for example, can take between 450-1,000 years to break down into smaller pieces, and the lifespan of the resulting microplastics is even longer. These microplastics can be ingested by marine animals, passing up the food chain and causing toxic harm.

Plastic - big and small - in our oceans affects a wide variety of species. Whales, turtles, fish and seabirds have all been found with plastic in their stomachs. 

Beach plastics. Image (c) Kirsty Richards.
Plastics on a beach. Image (c) Kirsty Richards.

What can be done?

Through Project Ocean 2015, Selfridges is leading the charge and saying no to single-use plastic water bottles, which are unnecessary when we have healthy water in our taps and easy access to reusable vessels. The UK uses around 15 million plastic bottles per day (3), which are a major component of marine litter. 

On an individual level we can all think more carefully about our consumer choices, avoid single use plastic and recycle what we do use. Remember that the plastic that we use in our everyday lives may end up contributing to this global ocean problem.

On a larger scale it’s important for business and industry to be innovative in its approach to managing plastic. For example, as well as our Project Ocean partnership, ZSL works with the carpet manufacturer Interface on Net-Works. Through this partnership, discarded plastic fishing nets are collected from the ocean by local communities and recycled into carpet tiles.

In May 2017, Selfridges and ZSL claimed the ‘Best Partnership with a National Charity’ prize for Project Ocean at the Better Society Awards and also won ‘Best Partnership in the Community’ at the National CSR Awards


How can I get involved?

Follow #ProjectOcean to show your support for the campaign and share your thoughts and ideas on how we can help protect our oceans from plastic pollution

Visit the Selfridges website for other ways to get involved with Project Ocean. 

More ways to protect marine life


1. Retrieved May 22, 2015 from

2. Jambeck et al (2015). Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean. Science 347 (6223): 768-771



Project Ocean is a long-term partnership between ZSL and Selfridges, bringing ocean conservation issues to a new audience and creating change through retail activism. 

How it all began

The information around marine conservation hasn't always been clear, accessible or communicated successfully to wide audiences. With this in mind, back in 2011, ZSL teamed up with luxury department store, Selfridges and created ‘Project Ocean’, a long-term partnership with a mission to take ocean conservation issues to brand new audiences and help protect and restore the ocean.

Together, we’re working to make a positive difference to the health of the ocean by changing consumer buying habits and communicating solutions to the threats our ocean faces in constructive, compelling, and inspiring ways. 

Partnership highlights so far

  • As a retail activist, Selfridges leads Project Ocean by example, ensuring its food halls and restaurants do not serve endangered fish and that its beauty halls are 100% free from shark oil and shark by-products. 

      Selfridges Project Ocean

  • In its first year, Project Ocean reached over 20 million people and raised enough funding to create the 50-hectare community-managed Selfridges marine reserve in the Philippines, which Selfridges continues to support.

      Selfridges MPA in Philippines

      Selfridges Project Ocean Window display

  • In 2015, Project Ocean turned to the issue of ocean plastic pollution, with Selfridges taking action to remove single-use plastic water bottles from across the business. The following year, inspired by the success of this initiative, ZSL and partners launched the #OneLess campaign to eliminate single-use plastic water bottles across London. Selfridges continues to be a pioneer in the #OneLess movement to this day.

      Selfridges beach clean​​​

Project Ocean’s two key messages

  • Vote with your fork – make sustainable seafood choices

  • Support the creation of marine protected areas (MPAs)