As part of our April issue, TransWorld Business examined what action sports companies have been doing to create more sustainable products, processes, and innovative strategies. We talked to companies around the industry about their efforts to make their brands more environmentally friendly.

Ocean Minded has been organizing beach clean-ups around the world since 1996. The company’s philosophy revolves around leaving their recreational spaces cleaner than the way they found them, and over its fifteen-year history, Ocean Minded has brought countless people together to clean up not only beaches but mountains, rivers, and lakes to keep the places we play and live pristine.

Contributor Mike Sudmeier caught up with Ocean Minded’s Kendall Moyles to learn more about their beach clean-up efforts around the world as well as what it takes to continually refine what it means to be Ocean Minded.

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What are some of the company’s latest initiatives to minimize its environmental footprint?

Each year we are expanding the eco-friendly materials and processes used in all of our products. Since 2009 we have added the use of Bamboo fabric, known for it’s softness and absorbency, in the linings of some of our footwear, recycled wool fibers, which can make the end product more hard wearing and therefore longer lasting, as well as sustainably produced cork used as a cushioning material in the heels of some of our footwear.

Ocean Minded’s catalogs and promotional materials are printed in the USA by a Forest Stewardship Council certified printer, using post-consumer recycled paper and UV inks. Just printing our Spring Collection this way preserves two trees for the future, saves 1,060 gallons of wastewater flow, and conserves 1,768,000 BTUs of energy.

What are the biggest challenges Ocean Minded faces in refining its commitment to the environment?

Greenwashing will always exist to some degree, but we think it’s up to both the manufacturers and retailers to regulate themselves before the message gets to the consumer. We’ve been asked “what’s it like to work for a ‘green’ brand?'” and we go out of our way to tell people that Ocean Minded is not a green brand, we are far from it. We like to think of ourselves as “capitalists with a conscience.” We use recycled and sustainable materials in our footwear, apparel, and accessories whenever possible and back up these product initiatives with a well-established environmental cleanup program.

Ocean Minded seems to be especially active in encouraging people to take action and further their education when it comes to environmental issues.  Why is this approach so important to the company?

As we strive to be a leader in sustainability and environmental protection, we understand that it is an ever-changing, unending process. Ocean Minded is dedicated to maintaining the current beach clean-ups, but to also seeking out opportunities at all elevations, finding the places that need cleaned-up the most and involving the communities in those areas to make the clean-ups happen. We can no longer deny that our planet is rapidly becoming a corroded and polluted place, it is our job to protect the places we play and live by our values: Be Ocean Minded.

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Why do consumers gravitate toward your message and products?

We were founded 15 years-ago, and our company is known for its unique vision in tying fashion, functionalit,y and comfort together in all its product collections. Consumers know that Ocean Minded believes in utilizing recycled and sustainable materials in its footwear, apparel and accessories whenever possible, and consistently strives to achieve this.

Do you have any up-to-date data on the amount of trash Ocean-Minded has removed through its beach cleanups?  The web site only showcases data through 2009.

Between 2009 and 2010, Ocean Minded hosted 73 beach clean-ups that were attended by an estimated 2,492 volunteers. Together, they picked up and properly disposed of 25,048 pounds of trash. Eighteen of these clean-ups were hosted outside of the USA in: South Africa, Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, and Australia.

What new technologies and product offerings are you going to be dropping?

Launching in June 2011, are two new additions to the Men’s closed-toe shoe line, The Wellspring and The Plaskett. These two new shoes take our current environmentally conscious footwear to a new level, with more eco-features and unique styling. The Wellspring features an upper made from a combination of metal free suede and full grain leather. Chromium sulfate is used in standard leather processing to tan hides. Without proper handling and disposal, this deadly chemical can make its way into lakes, streams and ground water ultimately polluting our water supplies. We use leathers tanned with natural vegetable tannins to reduce environmental risks. In addition, the Wellspring features nature inspired, recycled content rubber outsole with natural cork shock absorption heel insert and is constructed with water-based adhesives. The Plaskett shoe features a full grain leather and recycled PET lining for comfort and moisture management. Recycled PET lining is Polyethylene Terephthalate, a thermoplastic polymer resin that is widely used in beverage, food, and other liquid containers. Finally, the Plaskett utilizes an anatomical footbed made with recycled CrosliteT, for all day comfort, support, and odor resistance.

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