Every year, I like to find a small business that is making a difference for the environment and share it with you all. It is such a pleasure to introduce this year's Small Business Saturday highlight, Sea Turtle Adventures. This inspiring organization was created by Florida native, Jacquelyn Kingston. I hope you enjoy getting to know her and what she does as much as I did!
It is with great pleasure, that I introduce this year's Small Business Saturday Highlight. As you all know, I like to share someone that is making a difference, to help us all think about the products we purchase, or our own businesses on this day. Allison Randolph is literally giving a voice to the ocean and has taught me about so many great people, products, and movements through her many podcast interviews. I love to paint and listen about how these new surfboard fins will send research back to scientists, or how a community leader is fighting against toxic algae blooms, to name a few. They are so inspiring and leave you feeling amped about the future, which doesn't always happen when people talk about ocean conservation. Thanks for sharing with us today, Allison!
It is with great pleasure that I introduce this year's Small Business Saturday Interview with Brittany Webster of Planet Love Life!
Tell us about you and your husband and when and how you were inspired to start this.
My husband and I were inspired to start Planet Love Life after our first trip to Eleuthera, Bahamas, in 2014. Unlike beaches in the US, most of Eleuthera’s are remote, and the roads to access them are unpaved and extremely rocky or covered in sugar soft pink sand. Getting back there is not an easy feat, to say the least. When we encountered the beach for the first time, we were astonished by what laid before our eyes. The entire beach was strewn with plastic debris as far as we could see. After we started to look around and sort through it, we came to the realization that not only was the majority of the debris rope and nets but it was also in quite good condition and was still usable in one way or another. From massive piles so tangled together and buried so deep in the sand to tiny strands wrapped up in the mats of sargassum that make up the wrack line. We weren’t exactly sure how yet but we decided to bring as much of it as we could fit into our suitcases with us back home, and knew the right idea would come, eventually. At the time, my husband and I happened to be reading a book called the Blue Mind, by Dr. Wallace J. Nichols. The premise to the book is a how we are all connected to the water and our planet is represented by a blue marble. We were inspired by Blue Mind, and the Blue Marble Project, the notion that an item such as a marble or even a bracelet could not only have a beautiful meaning and story behind it, but could also be good for the planet and our oceans. After much experimenting, creating prototypes, and testing them out to make sure they would hold up to our active outdoor lifestyle, we came up with the current design for our marine debris awareness bracelets. We then decided that it was extremely important to not just educate on the perils of marine debris, but to also bring light to the hundreds of species that are injured or perish each year from the effects of marine debris, so each bracelet is named for a specific animal reminiscent of that particular rope.
What is the process of collecting and repurposing like?
Collecting, or salvaging the rope is much like going shelling or looking for sharks teeth, but instead of finding shells or fossils, we look for ALDFG, or abandoned, lost or derelict fishing gear. Which basically means old fishing rope and nets that have been left behind, or broken and drifted away. Just like with shells, depending on what coastline you are walking, you will find different “species” of rope and nets in different colors and thicknesses. We remove it off the beach and then begin the arduous process of untangling and sorting it into usable and non-usable piles. Some of the rope is too far corroded by photo-degradation, wave action, and the friction of rocks & sand and becomes too frayed and brittle to be used. For those of you that may ask what exactly that’s like… imagine untangling a mass of Christmas lights and then going through each section, bulb by bulb, inch by inch, to see if it still works. It may sounds awful to some, but to us, it’s like a fun puzzle. Once we figure out what rope is best for bracelets and what rope is best for other purposes, and get it back to our workshop, we begin soaking and washing it. Soaking and washing in itself it a process, to make sure that it doesn’t smell like the ocean anymore.
After a couple rounds of washing, rinsing, and then laying the rope out to dry in the sun, we start sorting yet again. This time to organize the rope into piles of similar colors and begin cutting the rope into appropriate lengths. Once everything is cut, we start assembling the bracelets and keychains, getting them ready to be shipped all over the world.
Where have you held some beach clean ups and how can others get involved? …and give us more info on the brand ambassador program.
We have personally held clean-ups on Eleuthera every year since our inception, and twice this year. We plan to continue our work in the Bahamas and are organizing a large cleanup project for Cat Island, Bahamas, in 2017. We also work with other like-minded organizations that host their own beach clean up events & programs, such as: Sea to Shore Alliance, Bahamas Plastic Movement, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, Marine Lab, Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, Restore America’s Estuaries and other marine conservation non-profits.
Individuals can get involved by sending us rope that they find on the beaches or waterways. They can ship the rope and nets they have collected to us, and we will turn them into our awesome accessories. We keep some to sell and then send some back to the donator as a token of our gratitude for their dedication to help keep our oceans clean.
Our brand ambassador program is a great way to live the Planet Love Life lifestyle by spreading the love and positivity through daily actions. We encourage all of our audience to rethink and reduce the single-use plastics and their impact on the environment through small, daily choices and actions. Such as to REFUSE using unnecessary plastics, REDUCE your Eco-footprint, and REUSE & RECYCLE your trash. Like skipping the straw and plastic ware when dining out, bringing reusable shopping bags whenever at the store, carry a refillable container for your water, support your local community by volunteering & participating in beach, river, park & other cleanups. Through social media, we encourage our ambassadors to post about their positive actions and things they are doing to make a difference whether it is recycling, using sustainable products, or participating in beach cleanups. We promote leading by example and inspire others to do the same. Our ambassadors can earn Sand Dollar Points and redeem them for discounts and free stuff! They can also share our pages with their friends and family and help educate on the issue of marine debris.
Tell us about the meaning and symbolism in your brand name and logo
Each part of Planet Love Life’s symbol has its own meaning and together represent a greater whole & purpose. The circle stands for our planet, our Mother Earth. The heart, for the love and respect that we have for her. The ankh, for all the life that resides within her and that which she provides. We have but only one planet that which we call home and we must honor, love, and respect her. We are all made of love and have a light within ourselves to shine out upon the world, acting as beacons of positivity to others. And we have but only one life, one chance to leave the world a better place than we found it.
Tell us where and how we can purchase
We currently sell all of our marine debris awareness accessories through our website, www.PlanetLoveLife.com . Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with our latest styles and promotions. On #CyberMonday, we will offer 20% off your entire purchase. Last but not least, on #GivingTuesday, we will feature the non-profit organizations that we work with through our Charity Charms program. Which, for an additional fee, you can add a charm of the charity of your choice to any bracelet and we then donate a portion directly to the charity of your choice. A couple of the great organizations that we currently work with are Bruckner Chase – Ocean Positive and Restore America’s Estuaries. We will soon be releasing the latest additions to the Charity Charms Program, such as Sharks 4 Kids, The Bahamas Plastic Movement, Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, Blue Mind and we look forward to growing this program to include organizations that are likeminded.
One Life, One Love, One Planet
Rob & Brittany Webster
Planet Love Life, Inc.
Happy Small Business Saturday! This year I bring you Stream2Sea creator and founder, Autumn Blum. I am so impressed by all of her products and the fact that I can use them without worrying about the affect on sensitive corals that I swim, dive and surf with. I know that so many of you are water people too, and what a difference a product like this can make for our reefs...
I’m Autumn and I’m a cosmetic chemist, scuba instructor and environmentalist. At 23, I started a little natural skin care company. Always under-funded and boot-strapping, I eventually grew the distribution to include millions in sales through more than 3,000 retail outlets in the US and abroad. In 2009, I sold Organix-South and the TheraNeem brand to a publicly traded company. I worked for them for a few years—it was fascinating learning how the ‘big boys’ operate—and I truly enjoyed most of the work. But I was restless. I’m an entrepreneur. My friends and colleagues all knew this and kept asking what I was going to do next.
I figured it out when by boyfriend said, “I’m going diving in Palau. Want to come along?” Several months later, we were diving off a live-aboard yacht in one of the most remote dive destinations in the world. The water was spectacular, and it was definitely the healthiest coral reef I had ever seen. After every dive, I would watch the other divers shower on the dive deck, washing their hair with commercial products, suds rinsing right overboard. Then they would slather silicone-based conditioners with nasty preservatives in their hair, and a tropical sunscreen or some aerosol-based product all over their body. An hour later, we’d all jump back in the ocean to do it over again.
This can’t be good, I thought. I had read the reports of sunscreen actives being implicated in coral bleaching. I knew the ingredients in these products would never pass muster in a health food store, and I certainly didn’t like the idea of them going into these pristine waters.
When I got home, I started looking for eco-conscious products I might use on my next trip or dive. I found a few varieties in the local dive shops stating reef safe or reef friendly. Then, I read the ingredients and was shocked to find oxybenzone, octylmethoxy cinnamate and parabens in many of them!
Knowing that every product we use on our bodies and in our hair ultimately reaches the ocean, I set out to create the highest quality, biodegradable skin, sun and hair care product line available. I left my job, poured over ingredient safety data, formulated the best possible line I could, partnered with Eckerd College and several labs, and finally brought my EcoConscious and Biodegradable product line to market!
It is my pleasure to introduce you to Stream2Sea, our new line of Ecoconscious and Biodegradable skin and sun care. Each product is safe not only for you and your family, but also for the sustainability of our environment. Our Sunscreen is the ONLY one that has been tested to be non-toxic to freshwater fish, saltwater fish, C. elegans and coral larvae. They are also readily biodegradable in both fresh and salt water. Now all I have to do is tell the world!
Carly Mejeur is a floridian artist, inspired by her ocean hobbies and travels. This Blog is for news, events, and just for fun. Click here for the artist's Bio.