Like most people around the world, I am spending today at home. The global pandemic of Coronavirus has turned daily life upside down, and we all must adapt. While we all are deeply affected, I find myself thinking a lot about students, the youth that have been separated from their amazing teachers and forced to proceed with their education virtually. As a marine biologist, I know there is no substitute for the sounds, smells, sights and feeling of the ocean. Being stuck staring at screens instead of going on field trips is an educational tragedy. But it is what it is, and I’d like to help.
Standing along the banks of a small stream and watching sockeye drag themselves over rocks to reach their home while getting predated on by bears, eagles and gulls was an impactful moment I’ll never forget. These weren’t just fish, they were intelligent, tenacious, and fearless animals that refused to quit. Their struggle and fortitude was equal parts depressing and inspiring. But above all, it made me want to work harder in my own life and I loved them for that.
When we decided to start manufacturing clothing years ago, we had an initial goal of doing no environmental harm. As a company, we existed to communicate science and help solve the environmental crisis and thought it would be extremely hypocritical if we didn’t practice what we preach in our own business. How hard could it be?
I had a safe career working in the fashion industry in New York City; a steady salary and a tangible trajectory at a great company. And then I quit. I hopped in my car, jam-packed with all my belongings (sans a few boxes of pencil skirts, heels, and other corporate attire that would end up stored at my parents' house indefinitely) and headed south for Miami to help launch an environmental clothing startup.
My hand hovered over the trackpad as I contemplated the repercussions of the impending decision: to buy a plane ticket to Australia or not? It was Thanksgiving 2011, my second year as a PhD student, and I had been invited to film an interesting field experiment on rip currents down under.