Last week the Wolven team attended Capitol Hill Oceans Week — where our passions for community building, protecting our planet, and promoting sustainable fashion collided. As a former climate action lobbyist and grassroots organizer, I was so excited to be back in the world of policy — this time representing the fashion industry, the world's second largest polluter behind fossil fuels.
We came prepared with our questions, notebooks, and our favorite ocean-themed sustainable Wolven sets — myself wearing Aquarius, for all my fellow Aquarians out there, and Aqua Aura, and Claudia sporting Eucalyptus and Lavender, a special ode to the Little Mermaid we’ve all been obsessing over.
Capitol Hill Oceans Week (CHOW for short) started as a small, daylong gathering in 2001 and is now a multi-day conference taking place in Washington, D.C — it is the nation’s premier annual conference examining current marine, coastal and Great Lakes policy issues with big-players involved such as the Ocean Conservancy, NRDC, WWF, and National Geographic (to name a few).
Hosted by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation every June, CHOW brings together scientists, policymakers, scholars, businesses, students and conservation leaders to address solutions to protect our ocean — while empowering community leaders to be at the forefront of solutions.
One of our favorite panels included “Ocean x Climate” where we learned from scientists and advocates about how the ocean is not just a victim of the climate crisis, but an integral part of the solution. We attended a discussion about “Decarbonization and the Role of our Ocean”, which shed light on the impact of ocean-based shipping — which is a common point of discussion when it comes to reducing climate emissions within fashion supply chains. I wrote down this quote from Delbert Pungowiyi at the incredibly inspiring “Frontlines Of Climate Change” panel that was a powerful takeaway from the event and certainly one that rang through the room and stuck with all the attendees, "To all the decision makers, and to the world leaders, and the citizens of the world, take a look at your family - that is who we are fighting for, to protect our Mother Earth.” The time to act is now in order to build a more sustainable future for ourselves, our children, our grandchildren, and everyone.
My two major takeaways from the conference were that: 1) showing up as your authentic self is the best way to make an impact, and 2) it is so important for decision-makers to be aggressively collaborative when it comes to developing solutions to global problems such as ocean conservation and climate change. The best way to make change is to ensure a diverse community of stakeholders are involved in crafting the solutions — including frontline communities, Indigenous leaders, scientists, tech-leaders — and leaders from all industries, including but not limited to, fashion. Being able to network with scuba divers, students, marine biologists, and policy experts was a great experience and it was interesting how much common ground we could find — between discussing the impacts of our supply chains, how recycled clothing can combat plastic pollution, and how our brand's platform can help educate our community and inspire new people to join the discussion. It's all hands on deck when it comes to protecting our ocean, and everyones voice has power.
The ocean is critical to maintaining life on earth. A thriving ocean in the future requires we address climate change head-on, and make ocean and coastal communities front and center in all national climate strategies. Here are some resources where you can join the conversation with us:
- National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, @marinesanctuaryfdn
- Marine Mammal Commission
- National Geographic ,@natgeo
- Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, @whoi.ocean
- Environmental Defense Fund, @environmental_defense_fund
- Natural Resources Defense Council, @nrdc_org
- Oceana, @oceana
- Ocean Conservancy, @oceanconservancy
- World Wildlife, @world_wildlife
- Earth Justice, @earthjustice
Written by: Amanda Lapham, Wolven Co-Founder & Sustainability Manager