In honor of World Ocean Day this June 8, we celebrate the yacht crewmembers making a difference in the field of ocean conservation. From crafting sustainably sourced floral displays for superyachts to making crew uniforms and swimsuits from recycled materials, take a look at the individuals with yachting backgrounds taking action to protect the waters they call home.
Lauren Wardley: Ethical Yacht Wear
Lauren has worked as a stewardess on yachts in the U.S., Australia, and Mediterranean . The first boat she ever worked on was 38-meter Benetti Orso 3, followed by stints on 44-meter Latitude and 60-meter Samadhi. The sustainable practices adopted by her fellow crewmembers on board Samadhi birthed the idea of Ethical Yacht Wear, a company that crafts crew uniforms made from a combination of recycled materials and organic cotton to counteract chemical pollution from cotton farms. Each garment is also made using fairtrade practices to ensure a high standard of living for the workers involved in the process. Recent milestones for Ethical Yacht Wear include the launch of a skorts and shorts line made from 95 percent recycled material and sponsoring the removal of 7,000 kilograms of ocean plastic funded by crew uniform purchases.
Joanna Hirst: Ethereal Blooms
After seven years of service at sea as a chief stew, Joanna began working with Ethereal Blooms floristry to introduce sustainable floral arrangements to the superyacht industry. Using a special process called bio-preservation, cut flower bouquets can be kept in a state of bloom for up to 12 months without requiring any water or maintenance. These bio-preserved flowers are therefore as simple to care for as fake florals but offer the aesthetics of fresh blooms. This reduces waste as well as the costs and resources put into constantly gathering fresh flowers week after week, with “most yachts saving as much as 75 percent of their usual flower budget,” says Joanna.
Shane Coopersmith: Sustainable Shane
Former Below Deck crewmember Shane has created an online sustainability platform, Sustainable Shane, to share environmental knowledge and promote sustainable products and practices while spreading awareness about the ocean crisis. Viewers of Below Deck may even remember that in one of the first episodes in which Shane appeared during season 8 of the show, the deckhand tried to introduce sustainable practices on board 56.4-meter Delta Marina superyacht My Seanna by swapping out plastic drink straws in exchange for biodegradable paper ones. Since then, he has launched his own eco-friendly bamboo utensil kit and began training to teach environmental science in high schools.
Lauren Ryburn: The Green Stew
Since 2016, Lauren has worked as a second stewardess and spa therapist on superyachts ranging from 45 meters to 100 meters LOA. At the same time, she started up The Green Stew, an Instagram blog account that offers tips and tricks to make the switch to more eco-friendly goods and products on board, as well as sharing environmental news and vital information about sustainability. For this year’s World Ocean Day, Lauren will be doing a “winter dip” challenge in her home waters of New Zealand to raise awareness and support for the eco-friendly companies she has partnered with, including Ecostore Ocean, which produces sustainable cleaning products for the crew to use on board, and Live Ocean, a conservation charity founded by Olympic and America’s Cup Kiwi sailors Peter Burling and Blair Tuke.
Athene Hope Macrae: La Bom Swim
For over a decade, Athene Hope Macrae has worked on board superyachts, including 30-meter WallyCento Galateia. She was employed in a variety of yachting roles, from chef and stewardess to tender driver and deckhand, before beginning her own sustainable swimwear brand, La Bom Swim. One-pieces and bikinis by La Bom Swim are designed for active women, inspired by Athene’s struggles to find suitable swimsuits to wear while surfing. To help tackle the ocean plastic problem, all of La Bom Swim’s suits are made from a special type of nylon fabric produced using recycled landfill plastic waste, fishing nets, fabric scraps, and carpet flooring. The brand has also partnered with The Cup Foundation, a charity that provides underprivileged girls and women with reproductive education and resources to reduce sanitary product waste.
Capt. Mark Delstanche: Atlantic Row fundraiser
In 2021, Captain Mark Delstanche of 73-meter superyacht Yalla embarked on an epic rowing adventure across the Atlantic to raise funds and awareness for ocean conservation. Over the course of 97 days, he rowed from New York to London and broke records for being the first person to row entirely solo across the ocean. Despite multiple capsize episodes, rough weather, and equipment failures, he completed the challenge and in the process raised nearly £43,000 for marine conservation charities Make Some Noise and The Ocean Project. Capt. Delstanche told Dockwalk at the time that his background in yachting had made him hyper-aware of the ocean crisis and inspired him to turn his challenge into a fundraiser and also collect scientific samples for his chosen charities: “In the twenty years that I have been in the yachting industry, I’ve seen a huge increase in the amount of plastics in the water, turning previously pristine seas into places that guests refuse to even get in the water," he said. "We as seafarers and human beings living on this increasingly fragile planet have a duty to do something about it.”
Kiyra Rathbone: The Green Stewardess
The Green Stewardess was founded by chief stew and Purser Kiyra Rathbone, and was created to help yacht crew make eco-friendly choices, including sourcing and testing greener products. After seeing first-hand how much unnecessary waste was being produced by some of the superyachts she worked on, Kiyra used the Green Stewardess to promote six solutions for yacht crew hoping to introduce more sustainable practices on board. This includes using a water filtration system, a bean-to-cup coffee machine, green cleaning products, environmentally-conscious guest and crew toiletries, bamboo products, and reusables (such as steel straws, aluminum water bottles, and cotton shopping bags). The Green Stewardess offers an entire catalogue of such items at budget-friendly prices, as well as a line of crew uniforms made from organic linen and hemp.
Leah Tennant: Washdown
Former deckhand Leah Tennant recently launched Washdown in May 2022, a line of environmentally friendly cleaning products designed with all crew departments in mind. After five years in the industry, she knew she had to find a solution for cleaning products that protected herself, those she cared about, and the planet. Tennant began working on the idea about a year ago, researching and working to develop a biotech formula fit for use on yachts. “As the sea has been my much-loved home for many years, and still is my favorite place to go and escape to, protecting it is also important to me, which is why all of our products come in a concentrated formula,” she says. This makes it more cost effective as it reduces the amount of waste and plastic use. Washdown currently offers seven products, including a boat soap, disinfectant, and food-safe degreaser, and will start selling spray bottles made from 100 percent Prevented Ocean Plastic in mid-June.