Q + A WITH SALT WATER COLLECTIVE
WHY DOES SALTWATER COLLECTIVE BELIEVE SO STRONGLY IN CREATING A BRAND/MOVEMENT THAT HAS SUCH A LARGE FOCUS ON PROTECTING OUR OCEANS?
Firstly, our movement is really centred on the belief that climate change is the defining issue of our time. Climate change affects every aspect of our lives, from the food we eat to the air we breathe, and it is increasingly affecting our economies, human rights, and international security.
At the centre of this huge issue are the oceans, which are the most important player in the climate change story. As the phenomenon progresses and as our greenhouse gas emissions continue to skyrocket, it’s challenging the capacity of our oceans to regulate global weather, maintain their biodiversity and to enrich, rather than endanger, coastal cities. All of this stands to have really terrible consequences for humankind, such as massive drought periods, displacement of entire cities due to flooding and famine. More than that though, the oceans are really mesmerizing for a lot of people and often places we go to to find peace. Our focus on the oceans really stems from a belief that in order to protect our own future and to enrich our lives, we desperately need to change our relationship with the oceans.
WHAT WAS THE CATALYST THAT MADE YOU CREATE SALTWATER COLLECTIVE?
Both Kelsey and I have been fascinated by the ocean and ever since we were kids, but it wasn’t until recently that we began to learn how drastically humans are damaging the global ocean and the impact it has on humankind. The oceans have become global dumping grounds for all kinds of chemical and plastic waste, we have fished over 90% of the oceans big fish and our carbon-intensive economies are creating large ocean “dead-zones” that are totally inhabitable for marine life. The pollution, species loss, ocean acidification, and food/water scarcity that result from our treatment of the oceans reducing the earth's ability to provide a safe and healthy habitat for humans.
The Saltwater Collective is our effort to use fashion, photography and creative branding to bring this information to everyday people. Our hope is that consumption patterns like widespread use of plastic bags and frequent all-you-can-eat sushi dates will eventually become social taboos and we will slowly start to see concern and reverence for the oceans become more widespread.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IT WILL TAKE FOR CONSUMERS TO BEGIN QUESTIONING WHERE THEIR CLOTHES ARE COMING FROM AND HOW IT'S EFFECTING OUR EARTH?
I think we’re really seeing a rise in the number of people who are concerned about where and how their clothing is made, largely thanks to independent designers committed to creating environmentally-friendly lines and the efforts of the blogging community in promoting local and sustainable fashion.
Given the choice, I like to think that most people would choose a local and sustainable garment over a mass-produced and energy-intensive one, and I think recent trends have done a lot to raise the profile of unique and responsibly-made products. The biggest challenge is that for most people, buying decisions still come down to questions of accessibility, affordability and design. The sustainable fashion industry would really benefit from regulations and incentives that would level the playing field for local and responsible brands and help them make sustainable goods that are on the cutting-edge of trends, competitive in price and accessible for people living outside of major city centres like Vancouver or Toronto.
WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE/IMPACT OF SOURCING YOUR MATERIALS LOCALLY?
I think one thing we’ve learned since launching the brand is that no one really knows exactly what sustainable fashion is. But what there does seem to be agreement on is that to be environmentally sustainable, manufacturing decisions needs to be made with energy-use and preservation of biodiversity in mind.
The average garment is made in multiple countries then shipped around the globe many times over before it makes it to its final destination. Using fabric that is knit and dyed in Toronto and having all of our garments cut and sewn in the city as well makes us confident that we are using the least amount of energy possible in our manufacturing process. Our next focus is to start incorporating recycled materials into our line so that we can avoid the negative byproducts the production of cotton and synthetic materials.
IF YOU COULD TELL CONSUMERS ONE THING, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
We’d want to emphasize that in terms of the environment, your choices as one singular person matter. You might think that your one disposable coffee cup a day is a drop in the ocean in terms of pollution, and you’d be right. But the statement you make by bringing your own travel cup to your favourite coffee spot, by saying “no” to plastic straws and bags or by making a conscious effort to buy sustainable clothing is huge. It sends a message about your values and it influences social attitudes.
Your friends will start adopting the same habits, companies will emphasize their environmental values in order to gain your trust, and slowly, the ways and things we consume (or don't!) will change. It’s the same for the way we use energy, the kinds of seafood we eat, the value we place on environmental policies around election time, a whole host of things. You, by making better choices as an individual, give us all a hope of solving the climate change crisis and fixing our relationship with the environment.