A Letter From Our Owner - 4/3/22

A Letter From Our Owner - 4/3/22

Well, these last couple years have been...interesting. In August of 2019, we kicked off our 5-point sustainability initiative. Little did we know the challenges that we as a little business—and we as a global community—would have to face beginning in 2020. I’ll be the first to admit that it was difficult to think about anything but just surviving in those first months of the pandemic. With our doors shut indefinitely, I wasn’t sure we’d even have a business to make sustainable when the storm passed.

But through efforts to make masks and headbands for healthcare workers and refitting the store for safe shopping, we were able to stay focused on our sustainability goals. Here’s what we’ve been able to accomplish since setting out on this mission:

+ We are now exclusively using 100% biodegradable glitter at Bowfish Studios.

+ We’ve switched from using standard paint for labeling on our Bowfish Kids shopping bags and shipping boxes to an algae-based ink.

+ We’re supporting global and local climate action campaigns, like Repurpose.global and Ocean City beach cleanups.

+ We’re in the process of submitting plans for solar panels on the roof of Bowfish Kids.

+ We’re inching closer to becoming a certified sustainable New Jersey business.

+ We’ve partnered with new brands and as of 2022, more than half of the products we carry in our store are sustainability focused. 

After writing all that, it feels like a lot! 😅  Which is great...but, there’s still plenty of work to be done. One of the biggest environmental setbacks brought on by the pandemic was the huge uptick in the use of single-use packaging—much of it plastic. It was heartbreaking to see trashcans everywhere overflowing with takeout containers, knowing that the vast majority of it would never be recycled. Thankfully, New Jersey’s single-use packaging ban is kicking in soon.

While I know this will take some adjusting on everyone’s parts, I also know it’s the right step. And a bunch of pretty scary reports have come out about the current and future impacts of climate change, which always gets me worrying about our little ones.

But for all the scaries that have come our way, there has also been enlightenment. In 2019, as we began to ask ourselves how to make this business sustainable, we found ourselves asking more and more questions about what exactly constitutes "sustainable." In the two-and-a-half years that’ve passed, I’ve learned that sustainability means something different to everyone.

Admittedly, that has led to some pretty serious greenwashing campaigns by big companies. But for those of us who are committed to changing—really changing—knowing that “sustainable” comes in many, many forms is actually freeing. There’s only one Bowfish Kids & Studios, and it’s up to us to figure out how we’re going to push ourselves toward becoming a cleaner, more responsible business.

I recently had a great conversation with a new colleague and friend, Beth, about this feeling of wanting to contribute but feeling so overwhelmed that you cannot commit to action. Beth said the key is to focus on what you can control—your footprint, your impact. If you focus on your little slice of the world, somebody else will focus on theirs, and so on and so forth. As we talked, I felt a sense of ease. If I focus on eliminating single-use packaging and selling more sustainably focused brands, then the paint companies can focus on eliminating toxic dyes, and CO2 emitters can focus on reducing emissions.

In working locally, I discovered, we can accomplish globally. So, I’m urging you: Accomplish what you can—if we all do, then that’s one giant step in the right direction.


Caitlin Quirk