From Sea to Surf

Patagonia’s Mission: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.

Tim Marshall |

While Earth’s waters continue to rise and we go about business as usual, the silent construction of her newest continents is ongoing at a swift pace. No, these new masses are not created by volcanic or seismic activity, but rather by ocean currents.

There are 5 major regions of our oceans where our plastic ends up. The regions are referred to as gyres or garbage patches. An estimated 5 trillion pieces of plastic are are either in or on their way to these garbage patches harming sea life, and finding their way back into our food system through those creatures.

Max Holden | Chiba, Japan 2017

At Patagonia, we have asked ourselves what we can do to approach this issue. The best thing we can do is continue working to live lifestyles free from reliance on plastic and desiring new products. Many of us at Patagonia are lifelong surfers and feel a deep connection to the ocean. The water is our environment just as much as the land and it’s contamination hurts us deeply. We have a responsibility to keep new plastic from entering the ocean and work on pulling out the old stuff.

An organization called The Ocean Cleanup has been developing technology since 2013 to reclaim the plastic from the ocean. The plastic can be sorted, processed, and returned to the product cycle. They are a part of a growing number of organizations focusing on recovering ocean plastic and putting it back into production. Their efforts represent a giant leap in closing the cycle of plastic production and while this doesn’t mean it’s okay for us to start using and producing more plastic without feeling bad, it means plastic can be used in many more ways throughout its lifecycle and sea life will have cleaner waters.

Tim Marshall |

In order to bring attention to this subject and show the capabilities of this reclaimed and recycled plastic, we have designed a limited number of surf watches for those with an intimate relationship to the ocean. While providing the surfer with an intuitive display showing tides, date, time, surf height, and moon phase, the Shoreline Tide watch reminds them of their connection and responsibility to the ocean.

The construction of this watch has been simplified to the strap, main body casing, and internal components/LED screen. To replace the battery, simply unscrew the face and slide a new battery in the place of the old one. If any piece breaks over time, the user may send it back to Patagonia and the part will be replaced for only the price of shipping. Old parts will then be disassembled and recycled. The purpose of this modularity is to extend the life of this product so that it may serve the wearer for years to come.

The interface design of the Shoreline Tide is aimed at simplicity and readability. Functions such as time, date, tide and wave height for the programmed location, stop watch, timer, and alarm serve more than all of the needs of the average beach bum. No need for any extra frills here.

In wearing this watch, you are a part of one of the most important protection programs for the planet of our generation. Plastic ocean waste is a time sensitive issue and if we do not act quickly to reclaim it, our waters will continually become more polluted and our wildlife continually more threatened. In use, the Shoreline tide is just a stylish tool to help you catch better waves and enjoy a beautiful lifestyle, but in essence, it represents a system to help you preserve that lifestyle to share with your children.

Though we are very excited for the release of the Shoreline Tide and we have had many ideas for designing various electronics over time, we realize the impact of electronic components. In this watch we have minimized the need for complex components and maximized our recycling capability, but the overall impact is not truly sustainable. For that reason, we are only releasing a limited amount for this summer season.

As always, we continue to design high quality products prioritizing Earth, human, and animal health first. If the Shoreline Tide is a tool that will improve your surf life, consider owning one. However, if it is not what you need we hope the product idea will impact the way you think about ocean health, plastic waste, and the capabilities of recycled materials.

Tim Marshall |

Disclaimer: This is a personal project meant to reflect the mission of Patagonia. However, this project was not done in collaboration with anyone representing Patagonia Inc.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store