How one Social Entrepreneur is Paving the Way for Ocean Awareness
Important Media is a media partner for Green Festivals, and today we’re highlighting one of the new green companies that will be at the event with us. Meet Shilpi, the founder of mission-driven business Samudra Skin & Sea. Join Important Media at booth 127 at Green Festival San Francisco, November 11-13.
By Shilpi Chhotray
There is no question that the health of our global ocean is threatened. The ocean makes up over 90% of our planet and scientists believe a whopping 80% of all life is found underwater. Truth be told, we’ve barely seen any of it! According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), only 5% of the ocean has been explored.
But what we do know alarming. At the current rate of pollution, the ocean is projected to have more plastic than fish by 2050 and sea level rise may climb six feet by the end of the century. So what are we going to do about it?
This question has been on my mind since I started my career in ocean advocacy and conservation policy almost a decade ago, and I realized that each day consumers can undertake actions that can help protect what we value. Some of these actions may seem daunting when faced with the bigger picture of ocean pollution or acidification. Every person has the potential to make a difference with the choices they make, but companies must make it easier for us to be responsible consumers. By using ecologically informed approaches to sourcing, manufacturing, and shipping, their customers don’t have to think twice about making ethical purchasing decisions– while still enjoying a healthy triple bottom line.
My desire toward values-based purchasing and ocean conservation culminated in the creation of my mission-driven company, Samudra Skin & Sea. Samudra, which means ‘ocean’ in Sanskrit, emphasizes ocean protection as the mission of our social enterprise. The skincare products are created with organic and vegan ingredients, with the highlight being wild-harvested, local California seaweed. By focusing on ecologically-driven sourcing, quality ingredients and responsible operations, we have been able to create products that are both ecologically smart and high quality.
Samudra’s Approach to Ocean Conservation
- Sourcing wildcrafted Seaweed. Our seaweed is locally sourced, food-grade, hand-harvested, and dried in the sun. The collection technique known as ‘wildcrafting’ includes harvesting plants from their natural habitat to ensure quality and conservation go hand-in-hand.
- Minimalist Design: less is more. We take a serious stance on reducing plastic waste by eliminating the need for plastics in our production model. From product design to packaging to shipping, Samudra strives to keep our oceans and landfills plastic-free. Our soap bar in particular, created for hair and body, eliminates the need for bottled shampoos and conditioners.
- Advocacy: marine conservation campaigns. Seaweed is our core ingredient, but it is also is intricately connected to the health of marine species and the vitality of our oceans. As a part of our mission, we promote ocean awareness campaigns that inspire protection of our blue planet while benefitting people and marine life. This Green Festival, we are proud to partner with 5 Gyres by taking action against harmful microbeads found in personal care products. By connecting the dots between our facial mask and living a bead free lifestyle, we strive to make the issue of plastics tangible and accessible.
- Climate Activism. The rapid increase of greenhouse gas concentrations are driving ocean ecosystems to new conditions we’ve never seen before. Human-caused changes are literally changing the seas so rapidly that marine organisms have little time to adapt. These creatures are not just the charismatic megafauna like whales and dolphins we all love to admire, but organisms like mussels and crustaceans which play a crucial role in the marine food chain. Seaweed, known for its climate absorption properties provides a strong opportunity to offset carbon in our oceans. Samudra is currently building out a seaweed offset program with our partner Eecosphere.
The ocean is our biggest resource for life on earth and we need to start acting like it. We cannot continue to be complacent about the status quo of business-as-usual and extraction of resources at current levels. Companies have no excuse not to use their brand power to influence buying power. And by living a more socially responsible lifestyle, we can all do our part to make a big different on our little blue planet.
About the Author: Shilpi Chhotray is the founder of Samudra Skin & Sea, an ocean-inspired skincare line featuring wild harvested, local seaweed. By blending personal wellness with ecological integrity, her goal is to bring key issues facing the oceans to everyday consumers and encourage other companies to make our blue planet a CSR focus. She is also a reporter at Mission Blue/Sylvia Earle Alliance where she is helping ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas.