Saltwater Eco is a social enterprise that bridges the gap between recreation and conservation offering a saltwater connection through surfing and snorkelling platforms. The concept and ethos that surround Salt as we affectionately call Saltwater Eco, is quite literally an extension of the co-founders, Kirst and Lyds.
Some people develop their connection with the natural world from a very early age, to the point where it has always been a part of them. This was Lyds, who followed her childhood dream to become a marine biologist and ecologist, later working in ecotourism and becoming a Dive Master. Ocean advocacy started at the ripe young age of pre-teens.
Others need a supportive push in the right direction. The famous quote by Jacques Cousteau “people protect what they love” is so very true and if you want others to protect and cherish what you think is important i.e. our planet, our oceans, then it makes sense to help facilitate that connection. For Kirst her world was all about surfing but it took many years before she connected her love and passion for surfing, with an intense desire to care for it. This difference helped to develop the concept behind Salt.
Saltwater Eco came into being and has been bridging the gap between recreation and conservation ever since. Marine recreation, in the form of surfing and snorkeling lessons, became the platforms to connect everyday people to the ocean. Experiencing the buzz of catching your first wave and/or peering underwater for the first time are such powerful connectors that stay with you for the rest of your life. Salt is designed to excite, energise and really focus on making that connection for people. This, in turn, creates the perfect opportunity to educate and raise awareness about the sustainability issues that the marine environment faces.
It’s all about leading by example, walking the talk and actively giving back to the local environments. But it’s also about making it easy for people to get involved. Every year Salt leads an annual beach clean where businesses are encouraged to sponsor with prizes, join the clean up or share the messages. For every customer a native tree is planted and this year a ‘Get your plant on’ event enabled customers to come along and plant their own tree. Most people who came had never planted a tree before! This is part of the wholistic approach to the ocean, it starts with each person at home. There’s also marine debris sessions teaching about ways to reduce plastics and one-use items.
Excitingly, new to this year Salt are launching an eco campaign: Straw Free NZ which is aimed to change New Zealand’s straw culture, moving away from single-use plastic straws.
When we started our Saltwater Eco journey we had no idea what would happen, one of our biggest challenges has always been trying to balance being both environmentally and economically sustainable.
In the meantime, we’re excited to be challenging conventions, promoting sustainable tourism and responsible recreation and nurturing a growing community of like-minded ocean enthusiasts ready to spread their own messages.
Nominated by: Nikki Cameron from NZ Cricket on 11 November 2017