The Eco-Business Spotlight is Nadi Marketing’s monthly series highlighting businesses and entrepreneurs that are leading the way with sustainable practices and making a lasting impact.
I want to introduce you to OceanKindHI who I found on Instagram! Owner, Leone Sutton not only cleans up her local beaches in Hawaii but also uses the microplastic she finds and turns them into eco-conscious jewelry. I bought a pair of her earrings on Etsy and wear them all the time! Every time someone compliments them it opens a conversation as Leone states on her Instagram to talk about our environment. I fully support that! Learn more about her business and what keeps her going below.
What is your eco-business and what inspired you?
I have a small jewelry shop selling pieces that I created by blending microplastics with a bio-based resin. All of the plastics I use are from beach cleanups that I have done in Hawaii.
I’ve always been pretty environmentally thoughtful having grown up with parents who read Mother Earth News and “Popped Tags” before it was cool. Grew up camping in the National Parks earning Jr. Ranger badges wherever we traveled. We lived in the Northern California vineyard country before moving to Europe and I remember when construction companies started clearcutting when smog was explained to me, a gas crisis occurred and when we had to ration our water supply….1979…I was 5.
In 2005 I went to school for Design and my focus/obsession was sustainable building and building supplies. I ended up working for a “Green Building Supply Company” and became quite versed in how items we use have an effect on every aspect of our environment.
Fast forward to my first child being born in 2010. When my son was 1, I started my own small business selling mosaics and jewelry at art markets and farmers’ markets. With my design background, my goal was to stick with recycled/upcycled materials-recycling glass bottles. We were living in Coastal NC at the time so I also started taking my boys to do small beach cleanups there as well as starting them in doing sea turtle monitoring at the ages of 3 & 5. I thought I was doing a great job of “Sustainable Living “ until we moved to Moloka’i in 2017 with my husband’s National Park Service Job. That’s when we did our first large scale cleanup with Sustainable Coastlines Hawai’i. It was then that I really felt the need to do more. We helped clean up 55,000 lbs. of rubbish that day and a section of it was in an area that was sea turtle nesting habitat. I was already doing sea turtle monitoring for the Nature Conservancy at the time so I started incorporating beach cleanups into the days I would travel out to do the monitoring. On the off days, I started taking my boys to our local wharf area as well as 2 other beach areas for smaller cleanups. Having previously been working in resin with recycled glass pieces I decided to try making something with the microplastics embedded in a plant-based resin. That’s when OceanKindHI was created, January 2018.
Since then we have cleaned up thousands of pounds of beach rubbish and diverted hundreds of pounds of microplastics by creating jewelry pieces with it. The jewelry has been donated to beach cleanup organizations in the US as well as Europe to use for giveaways and with every purchase made from the shop, a donation is made to Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii to aid in more cleanup efforts as well as educational outreach, and in my spare time, I do dog rescue for PAWS of Hawaii on Oahu.
What do you love most about being an eco-business and what drives you to keep going?
My kids. I love that at the same time that I am running a business, I have my family completely involved with the cleanups and learning about what is going on in our environment so they can be caring about the way we treat our world. I also love it when I get a note from someone saying, “Aloha! Guess What? We did a beach cleanup today inspired by you!!!” That’s when I know that even if only to a few people—my message is getting out there. That really inspires me to keep doing what I do.❤️