How Two Women Are Using Soap To Save The Sea

How Two Women Are Using Soap

To Save The Sea

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Pollution. We all know what it is. We recycle, we buy fuel efficient cars, but do we really know how deep the problem goes? While pollution is probably not something that consumes your day-to-day thoughts–chances are you’re more concerned with happenings on dry land than oceanic environments because–the reality is that our oceans are in trouble. 

Cue Emily Callahan and Amber Jackson. These two brave women with curiosities surrounding our carbon footprint decided that they were going to challenge policy and dedicate their careers to studying marine systems.

After meeting in graduate school in a diving program, Callahan and Jackson began researching old rig removal throughout their thesis project. At the time, there was momentum around Rigs-to-Reefs, a law passed in California in 2010 that, “provides an alternative to complete rig removal in which an oil company chooses to modify a platform so that it can continue to support marine life as an artificial reef.” The problem was that there were 27 offshore platforms off the coast of California and none had been converted, so was it actually viable? This question prompted them to push forward researching this topic and potentially influence change.

Emily and Amber describe themselves as environmental consultants. The pair now run a company called Latitudes that assesses offshore marine structures (think oil companies, art installations, or any organization that puts structures into the water) to understand their ecological values. They both emphasized that it’s “very impactful to remove these structures, so we figure out what would be the least impactful way to get them out.” Despite these realities, there’s not a singular culprit in this equation. 

“Everyone causes pollution, we’re just as responsible for the oil platforms being there as the oil companies are.”

– Emily Callahan and Amber Jackson

Amidst Emily and Amber’s research, an ecologically-conscious California-native named Jaeson Plon met Amber’s mother while surfing at the beach. Stories were exchanged and eventually introductions were made between him, Emily and Amber. As it turns out, Plon is a surfer, ocean lover  and an entrepreneur who co-founded a company called Sea Bottle that produces a natural hand wash, keeping the ocean’s health in mind. 

“Thirty percent of plastic bottles end up in the ocean and harm marine life. I wanted to create a safe formula with sustainable packaging that wouldn’t damage the environment. There’s a pump on the glass bottle that becomes sea glass then sand, and the pump is reusable so you can refill it.”

– Jaeson Plon

The congruencies between their missions were unavoidable and hinged on their shared passion for recycling, especially when it came to massive rigs, some of the size of the Empire State Building. According to Plon, the moment they’re planted on the ocean floor, marine life begins to flourish around them. Because he was so fascinated by how these two female scientists were turning a negative into a positive through their research,  he decided to donate a percentage of every Sea Bottle sale to Emily and Amber’s efforts.

Even still, it’s an ongoing battle. In terms of challenges, the ocean-minded duo admitted that they are usually the only women in the room at conferences and are the youngest by 30 years. “A big challenge for us is that it’s very easy to be looked at as little girls and people don’t take you seriously,” says Jackson. “They’ll say things like ‘the ladies of blue latitudes are here.’ So you need to present your information as a man would. Being a woman also has its advantages though. We seem to make more of an impact because people are more interested.”

The argument is always us against them and we hope that moving forward we can actually change that.” Emily acquiesced. We don’t want to promote off-shore drilling at all, we have to understand the reality of our situation and seek more renewables.”

-Emily Callahan

With no pause in sight, this fiercely intelligent duo has seen a few examples of structures that have proven to be valuable, mostly in the Gulf of Mexico, and are planning a trip to Southeast Asia this spring to learn more about converted rigs around the globe.

Shayna Marcos

Shayna is a dynamic content editor with a well-rounded background in the music industry as well as a penchant for the beauty and fashion space.

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