Magazine Post: The Cost of Conservation

The Cost of Conservation

I have a saying: “It takes cash to care.” Some people might get turned off or even offended by this statement, but the truth is conservation costs money. Sure, there are numerous incredible volunteer efforts, such as the International Beach Cleanup that has attracted more than 16 million volunteers since it began in 1986. Concerned citizens from more than 100 countries have collected in excess of 339 million pounds of trash from the planet’s beaches. That is truly impressive. What some may not know is that this event was launched by two ambitious women, Linda Maraniss and Kathy O’Hara, who worked with the nonprofit organization Ocean Conservancy. Today, the OC is a multi-million dollar machine that invests tremendously into conservation. Just like the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, the Ocean Conservancy’s work is funded by philanthropic groups and individuals and a percentage of product sales. The point — volunteers are essential, but they can only do so much. Effective, on-going marine conservation is expensive.

There is great news on this front. More and more companies are devoting a portion of their earnings toward saving the planet. Not only is that a good public relations strategy, but it can also be a great business model. What has been called Cause Marketing has morphed into the term “Corporate Social Responsibility.” CSR is gaining traction simply because more companies are seeing the wisdom in being green. In fact, if a company in 2021 doesn’t have a sustainability and conservation strategy, they are already behind the curve and are setting themselves up for failure. When it comes to the products they buy, consumers want to know how, where and from what those materials come from. For example, our customers are thrilled when they learn that Guy Harvey shirts are made in a facility that runs mostly on solar power and uses recycled materials (see article on page 15). Consumers want less plastic packaging and more earth-friendly products, and we are always working hard to deliver on those goals.

As companies continue to ramp up their investments into conservation, those funds help grassroots, nonprofit organizations, as well as the GHOF and hundreds of other groups that do vital work. That’s good for the planet, and we can all use some good news these days. 

In this issue of Guy Harvey Magazine, we are shining a spotlight on some of those forward-thinking companies. One is Florida Power & Light. By investing in renewable power, they are taking solar power and electric vehicles to impressive levels. By 2030, FPL will have installed more than 30 million solar panels across their service area; by the end of 2021, they will have built more than 1,000 charging stations for electric vehicles (see article on page 46). That’s just good business, and it also benefits Mother Earth.

Beyond companies devoting their profits to conservation, other businesses have taken these concepts to the next level and created their business model 100% on sustainability and conservation. One of the best examples is 4Ocean, founded by two surfer dudes who got fed up seeing plastic waste in the ocean. Floridians Alex Schulze and Andrew Cooper decided to form a for-profit company back in 2015 to sell bracelets, jewelry and beach-oriented products, all made with the plastic they removed from the ocean. So far, they’ve extracted more than 17 million pounds of plastic, and while I don’t know the exact number, their revenue exceeds $20 million a year. They are one of many new companies building a business to do well while also doing good. And then there’s Brightmark, another for-profit company that takes all kinds of plastic waste and turns it back into fuel — all through their patented process. If you thought plastic recycling was a doomed concept, think again. Brightmark is highly profitable, and they’re just completing construction on a $680 million recycling factory in Georgia. (see article, page 50)

We’re absolutely in a paradigm shift in which sustainability has become foundational to a successful business. In fact, a new acronym, ESG, has been injected into the global corporate lexicon. It means Environmental, Social and Governance. Thousands of companies have ESG ratings, which measure everything from biodiversity to climate impact to racial diversity — and much more. Investors are increasingly using ESG ratings to determine where to put their money. 

I’m so pleased to see that there is a rapidly growing connection between corporations and conservation. This trend is favorable for us to fix the myriad issues facing our marine ecosystems. For years, I’ve been saying that it takes cash to care. Thankfully, more and more people are buying into that concept.

Fair winds and tight lines,

GUY HARVEY, PhD is an internationally acclaimed artist, fisherman, scientist, and world traveler who devotes much of his time and money toward ocean conservation.

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