2024 Sustainability Report

2024 Sustainability Report

At Bowfish, we are committed to fostering sustainability in every aspect of our organization. Over the past four years, we have undertaken various initiatives to reduce our environmental footprint by examining, innovating, and updating our operations, all with the goal of conducting business in a sustainable or circular way within our company and community partnerships.

Back in 2019, I created a 5-year goal for Bowfish “to become a sustainable business.” Revisiting that statement today, it’s funny that I worded it as if it were something that would be achieved, completed, and moved on from. Today, I understand it for what it is: a constant process — something that needs to be examined and reexamined as knowledge of our impact on the environment changes and socioeconomic conditions shift. In other words, sustainability is as fluid and complex as the issues it attempts to address.

This report is an attempt to highlight the fluidity and complexity of becoming a “sustainable business.” It is an update of our 5-year goals, from initiatives to our achievements to our failures. Lastly, it also explores new goals as we continue to challenge what sustainability means for us and our community.


Goal 1: Stop using micro-plastics and move to a 100% biodegradable glitter ✔️ (Completed April 2021) Most glitter is composed of microplastics that can find their way into rivers and oceans, taking many years to degrade. We source and use bio-based glitter, which is finely-cut pieces of cellulose made from a variety of sustainably grown, GMO-free plants with minimal environmental impact. While currently, no glitter is 100% biodegradable, Bio Glitter is 92% biodegradable and is the most earth-friendly choice.


Goal 2: Limit our CO2 footprint by switching to renewable energy by installing solar panels 🚫

Despite a good faith effort to install solar panels on the roof of Bowfish, we faced challenges due to limitations imposed by our utility provider, Atlantic City Electric. After hiring an electrician to begin designing our array and preparing permits, we learned that Atlantic City Electric’s infrastructure, including transformers, in our location would need to be replaced to accommodate solar power. When we approached the utility with our renewable energy plan and offered to assist in any way possible, we were told they had no incentive at this time to update the local grid in a way that could handle alternative power sources like solar.

On this map, you can see the (tiny!) area in black in Ocean City where transformers have not been updated and, therefore, cannot accommodate “interconnection of solar generation.”

Despite this roadblock, we look forward to installing a solar array as soon as Atlantic City Electric has made these updates.


Goal 3: Each year, we’ll continue to replace non-sustainably focused brands with those that are. Our goal was to get to 100% sustainable brands by 2023. ✔️/🚫

We are at 100% for our apparel brands and are constantly replacing vendors with others who are even more sustainably conscious.

Finding sustainable replacements for non-apparel goods like hair bows, stuffed animals, and most accessories has been more difficult. We continue challenging our vendors and finding different partnerships to replace non-sustainable products. To help us evaluate vendors more efficiently, we’ve created a sustainability checklist, which you can check out here.


Goal 4: We will become a NJ-certified sustainable business 🚫

While we haven’t yet ticked all the boxes to be state-certified, we have accomplished the following requirements:

Revitalizing Trash Management Processes: In 2022, we transitioned to compostable bags to reduce plastic waste. The bags we use break down in systems intended for composting yard and food waste, as well as in traditional landfills. This transition has led to unintended consequences: the bags are much thinner than regular trash bags, so they often tear. To address this issue, we are in the process of designing a trash corral behind our building that will ensure that any waste that spills from a torn bag does not escape and end up back in the environment.

Transition to Eco-Friendly Packaging: In our ongoing efforts to minimize single-use packaging waste, we have phased out non-essential packaging and are transitioning to eco-friendly alternatives. We are committed to providing both paper and plastic packaging only when necessary — for example, when a customer requests a bag or wrapping for items they’ve purchased. We feel that this approach helps educate our customers on the importance of sustainability without causing them to feel alienated.

Adoption of Reusable Hand Towels: We have fully transitioned to washable fabric towels throughout our building to reduce paper waste. This initiative not only minimizes waste but also promotes a mindfulness toward sustainability among our staff and customers.

Partnership for Sustainable Products: We have established a partnership with Flap Happy to produce mermaid tails for our studio that are made from 100% recycled bottles and shipped without plastic packaging. We feel this initiative especially exemplifies our commitment to both offering sustainable products while at the same time seeking out and supporting environmentally responsible manufacturing brands and practices.

Future Goals: Moving forward, we aim to expand our sustainability efforts by leveraging our vendor checklist to forge additional partnerships with like-minded brands and manufacturers. Furthermore, we are exploring opportunities to more sustainably manufacture the goods we make in-house.


Goal 5: We Will Continue to Support Local and Global Climate Action Campaigns

In 2022, we created a community compost outside our retail store. It worked out great, except we recognized that the location of our compost bin, in the alley between our building and our neighbors, was not the most accessible, as it is prone to flooding. To fix this issue, in April, we installed an Aerobin compost system, which is a cleaner, more accessible product. This upgrade aligns with our commitment to composting and other sustainable waste management practices, and it fosters a more environmentally conscious community.


Conclusion: Bowfish Kids + Bowfish Studios remain dedicated to advancing sustainability across our operations. Through ongoing initiatives and partnerships, we strive to minimize our environmental footprint, engage our community in sustainable practices, and promote a better future for generations to come. We are committed to continuous improvement and look forward to furthering our sustainability goals in the years ahead.