Rowan the Marine Scientist has something to say

The ocean is ours to keep and protect. It’s our planet’s life source and home to hundreds of thousands of species. It has given us so much and continues to give each day. So why is it being treated like earths garbage can? Why is it being pillaged beyond repair? The time for us to help our oceans isn’t now; that opportunity has long been missed. This is the time to salvage what we can of our big blue before there’s no going back. 


What is sustainability at sea, and how can we make an impact in the beauty industry?

The ocean has this incredible ability to sustain life, and we wouldn’t be here without it; it provides the air we breathe, our weather and climate, food and medicine, it’s a place to float away from it all, to find solace, exhilaration, and adventure.

So for me, ocean sustainability is all about creating space for nature to do its thing. It’s about us striving to live in harmony with the natural world and understanding that we are nature, and it’s our duty to care for and restore our ocean, not only for our health and well-being but also for the rest of the natural world.

There is so much we can do to impact the ocean and the world around us positively. I’m no beauty expert, but from the marine perspective, I would like to see a ban on environmentally harmful ingredients in products, such as microbeads and coral-harming chemicals.

As well as a move to plant-based alternatives to marine-derived ingredients, such as squalene, which is a hydrating ingredient used in cosmetics that can often come from shark liver but can come from plant-based sources!

And of course, for packaging to move to refillable, reusable systems or at the least ensuring that packaging is recyclable.

 For individuals, I think it’s about choosing responsible brands that have strong ethical and environmental values, not over-consumption, and remembering that real beauty comes from within.

What do you think about the lack of acknowledgment that fishing is one of the most significant contributors to ocean pollution?

I think there is a considerable lack of knowledge and understanding on our impact on the ocean generally. The fishing industry has a huge responsibility to reduce pollution and overfishing. Still, it’s important to remember that our actions on land, and sea, also have a phenomenal impact on our seas.

Everything we do on land has the potential to impact our seas, whether that’s how our clothes are made, how we produce food, how we deal with waste, even how we treat each other, it’s all entirely connected, and while I think so much needs to change in the fishing industry, we have a whole lot to change on land too. We must take responsibility for that.

“…Start in your back yard – So much of the way we live our lives is rooted in how we grew up and the routines and practices we are used to, but…those routines and practices need to catch up.”

Do you think there is an importance of connecting or reconnecting to nature, as well as the power of individual and collective action to save our oceans? 

I think it’s all about connection, reconnecting with nature – going back to that simple wisdom is so important. And connecting with ourselves and our communities, building resilience, and creating a space for joy and imagination, so we can create the change we want to see in the world.
When we spend time in nature, we feel better (I realize it’s a real privilege to do that, and access to green space for all is so important and should be a human right). Still, it’s much easier to connect to nature and realize that we are part of the incredible natural system. With that knowledge comes the desire to protect and care for our planet, which we so desperately need right now.

Your mantra and message are “together we can rise above plastic.” How do you get that out there? 

I’m lucky that part of my job is all about getting that message out there and creating regulations and policies that remove unnecessary single-use plastic entirely, which makes it easier for everyone to make more sustainable choices.
I’m passionate about getting the word out in other ways, and I want to inspire creative activism and find exciting ways to create a better world. My group Sustain our Seas aims to inspire others to connect with and care about the ocean. We have a podcast called Making Waves, where we can speak to some super inspiring people. There are lots of other exciting plans for next year too, this year has been a bit of a write off for events because of the pandemic, and I’ve been doing up a little cottage by the sea with my partner, and it’s taken up a lot of our spare time, but I’m excited for what’s to come.

What can the rest of us do in our everyday lives to minimize plastic pollution and live more sustainably?

 For me, it’s about people doing what they love, cultivating community, joy, and making space to imagine a better future. I’m not perfect at it, but I’m trying to live in a way now that I want to live in the future, rather than getting stuck always thinking about tomorrow, living a life now that’s connected and as conscious as possible.

My advice would be to start in your back yard – So much of the way we live our lives is rooted in how we grew up and the routines and practices we are used to, but we live in such a different world to when we grew up, and those routines and practices need to catch up.

How – eat more plants, grow food, laugh, join a community group, support local businesses, compost, stand up for what you care about, create space for joy and imagination, shop second hand and sustainable products, create art and music, figure out what you want to do and do it, be the change you wish to see in the world.

It’s not about having to wait to be perfect or a professional before you start making a change; you just need the courage to show up and tend to the garden you can touch.