MEET THE BRANDS THAT ARE COMBINING CONSERVATION WITH CREATIVITY IN THE FIGHT TO SAVE OUR OCEANS
WORDS BY OLIVIA SQUIRE
We are all permanently submerged in the ocean, whether we realise it or not. Despite covering more than 70% of our planet and sustaining all life, it’s often difficult for us to perceive our deep biological and spiritual connection to what marine biologist and previous PURE speaker Sylvia Earle calls “our blue heart”. The wild, unconquered depths of the seas and the alien lifeforms teeming within may seem worlds away from our modern, urban lifestyle: but with marine species dwindling at an alarming rate; climate change leading to acidification; and plastic pollution on the rise, we all need to realise that the preservation of the ocean is very much our problem.
In an attempt to engage people with these difficult issues, a new wave of innovative individuals and brands are forging creative campaigns designed to hook our attention: as Hanli Prinsloo, freediver and co-founder of the I AM WATER Ocean Conservation Foundation, implores: “We need to be inspired to change, not scared into submission”.
“We need to be inspired to change, not scared into submission” – Hanli Prinsloo, freediver and co-founder of the I AM WATER Ocean Conservation Foundation
This principle is the driving force behind The Last Wilderness, I AM WATER’s flagship project, which combines freediving experiences and photography to create unforgettable experiential adventures – in addition to an awareness of the beauty and significance of marine life. By training participants to dive without equipment and thus interact with animals on their own terms, the Foundation hopes to impart a sense of our place on this blue planet and a desire to protect it. Recent partnerships with high-end destinations such as PUREist Soneva Resorts aim to inspire influential individuals to take home not just a personalised photography book and priceless memories, but also a duty to do what they can to conserve such experiences for future generations.
Network organisation Parley for the Oceans takes a different approach by uniting “creators, thinkers and leaders” in collaborative, creative projects designed to repurpose ocean waste, make environmental protection fiscally lucrative and shape a new consumer mindset. Inspired by the belief that the power to mould a new reality lies in the hands of artists, musicians, architects, scientists and so on, Parley utilises the creativity and connections of leaders in each field to drive change.
Recent partnerships include with Adidas to launch a new shoe made from ocean waste, and Pharrell and G-Star Raw on a collection transforming ocean plastic into denim. It also unites creative class influencers in a series of discussions. The first Parley Talk at Julian Schnabel’s Palazzo Chupi in New York pulled an impressive crowd, including Leonardo di Caprio, Eric Schmidt, Anthony Hegarty and more, and subsequent events at Berlin Fashion Week and the United Nations in New York provided further opportunity for creative collision.
Tackling creatives at an earlier stage of their career is Tidal Magazine, founded on Australia’s Sunshine Coast by two teenagers with the twin goals of highlighting the creative talents of exceptional youth and raising funds and awareness for ocean conservation. Co-founder Jess Abraham acknowledges, “Ocean conservation can be incredibly daunting. Creativity allows the community to not just hear about an issue, but to directly engage with it and be a part of its solution”.
Currently on its second edition, with the first the result of a crowdfunding campaign and the second driven by advertising revenue, Tidal showcases the work of grassroots conservation movements like Sirens for the Sea, a collection of surfers, artists, scientists and musicians raising awareness about issues affecting the Great Barrier Reef, alongside cutting-edge editorial targeting a youthful, creative audience. Abraham asserts, “A big part of it is making it relevant to the people you’re trying to engage. Whilst a healthy ocean affects every single person on the planet, a lot of people think they’re disconnected. You have to give them a reason to care”.
Whilst a healthy ocean affects every single person on the planet, a lot of people think they’re disconnected. You have to give them a reason to care” – Jess Abraham,co-founder of the I AM WATER Ocean Conservation Foundation
When looking at creative campaigns that connect people to conservation on a wider scale, BLUE Marine Foundation is unquestionably leading the charge. With the top-level ambition of placing at least 10% of the world’s oceans under protection by 2020, BLUE is a firm believer in the power of creativity to convert global audiences to their way of thinking: Poppy Wetherill, Fundraising and Events Officer for the Foundation, explains, “The creative industry – fashion, art and film, for example – is a incredibly powerful way of communication with the public”.
“The creative industry – fashion, art and film, for example – is a incredibly powerful way of communication with the public” – Poppy Wetherill, Fundraising and Events Officer for the I AM WATER Ocean Conservation Foundation
BLUE embarked on its journey in 2011 with The End Of The Line, a film about overfishing that won that year’s Puma Creative Impact Award for the documentary film with the greatest positive impact on society. The Foundation has since caught the attention of media worldwide by collaborating with brands including Crème de la Mer, Orlebar Brown and Kenzo. Their successful 2013-14 partnership with the latter, No Fish No Nothing, resulted in a capsule collection and limited edition blue version of Kenzo’s famed Tiger sweatshirt that translated fashion-lovers around the globe into fish-lovers.
Along similar lines, BLUE’s collaboration with Fishlove raises awareness of unsustainable fishing practices by releasing provocative photographs of famous individuals posing with fish. The most recent iteration, linked to BLUE’s UK Overseas Territories Campaign, featured Helena Bonham-Carter cuddling a big-eyed tuna and was picked up by publications worldwide. Helena commented, “It’s very proud-making that the UK government has just declared the largest marine reserve in the world…I never knew taking my clothes off could be so effective. I must do it more often”.