A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall: Combating Ocean Plastic Pollution with Umbrellas
Creative solutions are required to tackle ocean plastics
They say April showers bring May flowers so grab your galoshes and join Jenna Valente and her guest Deirdre Horan on this episode of the Sea Change Podcast for a conversation about a springtime staple: umbrellas. Every day brings a new wave of plastic pollution entering the ocean and solving the crisis will take an all-hands-on-deck, comprehensive approach, including entrepreneurial innovation. During this conversation, the two discuss Diredre's efforts to upcycle ocean-bound plastic into umbrellas through her company called Dri.
Jenna Valente 0:00
Hello, everyone, and welcome to the sea change Podcast. I am your host, Jenna volante. And this is your go to show to learn about the most interesting and inspiring people living, working and recreating along the American shorelines and everywhere in between. So here we are in the month of April, also known as the month with all the showers that bring those beautiful May flowers, which I guess I suppose that it depends on where you're listening from. If that adage rings true or false to you, but it certainly does ring true here for me up in New England, where springtime is synonymous with mud season. So I am particularly excited to introduce you all to a very seasonally appropriate and sea change podcast appropriate guest today, because we are talking about plastic pollution and umbrellas. Deirdre Horan is the founder of Dri, which is spelled Dri sea-cycled umbrellas, which are umbrellas made with ocean bound plastic dierdre. Welcome to the show. And thank you so much for joining me.
Deirdre Horan 1:24
Thank you so much for having me, Jenna, it was a lovely introduction.
Jenna Valente 1:28
So in addition to learning more about dry This podcast is a bit of a get to know you session for you and I so for listeners, Deirdre and I connected through a female entrepreneurs Facebook group that we are both a part of, and we haven't met in person yet. Although I looked forward to hopefully meeting you in person someday. Yeah. And so I would like to start off by hearing more about your background and the path that you took to ending up where you are now.
Deirdre Horan 2:03
Yeah, so I am from Massachusetts, born and raised. And I went to college in Massachusetts as well. I lived in Boston for about five years and recently moved out to Western Mass. So there's a recurring theme of this, this state throughout my life. But yeah, I, I lived in the city for quite a while I've been fortunate enough to do a good amount of traveling, though, whether it's studying abroad or some travel after college. So yeah, so I've had some good, good travel experience as well. And I just kind of decided to jump into this business. I've been working for other companies since I graduated college in 2014. But I decided to start pursuing dry when I had the idea a few years back now. And it's just been an incredible experience building a business.
Jenna Valente 2:59
Yeah, I'm really looking forward to hearing more about how the whole process of building the business and and the production of your products. But before we get there, I'm curious to hear more about what is your connection to the ocean? And what is it that drives you to protect it? Because I mean, obviously, from talking to you, and looking at your website and understanding the products that you're making, there's that direct connection between trying to address the plastic pollution problem before it reaches the ocean and adds to this crisis that we're faced with. So So what is that connection? What is that drive to help protect the ocean?
Deirdre Horan 3:44
Yeah, so my family and I have a very long standing relationship with Cape Cod. It's one of our favorite places on the planet. Vacation there. Every summer, my parents recently bought a house down there. And it's always been a second home. And it's always felt like a very sacred place to myself and my family as well. And just thinking that there is a possibility that it wouldn't be clean and wouldn't be beautiful for generations to come from my family. There's just really concerning to me. I watched a documentary, which really kind of kick started this whole thing on ocean plastic, and just the concept of how enormous of an issue this has become, and how likely it is that there will be a day when you know, my kids or grandkids whoever it may be or at the beach, and there's just you know, it's littered with plastic, as it's already been in so many countries around the world. Just really, you know, makes me a little queasy to think about that people might not have the amazing experiences and childhood memories that I've had.
Jenna Valente 4:50
Yeah, and I love that you called out you know that you watched a documentary too that really sparked your interest in doing something and taking action. Because, you know, each beach that you go on, I feel I feel like you, you'll find plastic on every single beach, whether it's Cape Cod, which is generally a view, incredibly beautiful, very pristine miles and miles of just like impeccable shoreline, like you can find plastic there. But from where I stand also in Massachusetts, I could see how somebody that maybe isn't involved in this line of work, could go out and visit the beach, and maybe you don't see as much plastic so you don't fully grasp just how major this issue is. But then you know, you're in a, you're in a different place or a different country, and then your beaches completely covered in trash. And so sometimes it takes educational tools like documentaries, or possibly even podcasts like this one, to spark that interest. And, you know, motivate people to get out there and, and do something and take action. And I also find that entrepreneurs like yourself, I find you also be very, very inspiring people, and you are a big source of motivation for me. So I just feel like it takes so much strength and courage to step out on your own and forge your own path, as well as, you know, be a problem solver for some of these really complex challenges that we're faced with. And I think it takes a lot of believing in yourself, and most likely community support and partnerships as well. So I'm wondering, are there any groups or people that you find particularly influential or motivational in your efforts to start this company? Or who or what inspires and motivates you?
Deirdre Horan 6:48
Yeah, so I'd say from a female entrepreneur perspective, I actually have two aunts who far before it was common for females to start businesses went down that path, and ultimately ended up being very successful in doing so. So I think they definitely showed me that it was possible and that you can be successful and that this is something that that women can really throw their, their hat in the ring as well and partake. You know, if you have a good idea, if you're passionate about something, then you should pursue it. And I think that they always really inspired me in that sense.
Jenna Valente 7:22
Yes. Love to hear women, hiring and supporting women. Yeah,
Deirdre Horan 7:27
totally, totally. And I mean, women like you as well, like, like you mentioned, we met on this Facebook group. And there's just so many women on there that encourage each other and are there for each other. When it comes to, you know, customer research, or just any expertise that other people have, I feel like women are really willing to share that amongst ourselves. So that's definitely been a source of inspiration for me, as well as other female entrepreneurs in general.
Jenna Valente 7:53
Yeah. And so now I'm interested in hearing more about the origin story of dry. So how did this all come to be?
Deirdre Horan 8:02
Yeah, so like I mentioned, I watched that documentary. It's called garbage Island. It's actually the vice a bunch of vice journalists visit the Great Pacific Garbage Patch with Captain Charles Moore. And so just watching that documentary, it was one that just sticks with you. I feel like everybody has a documentary that like really shakes them and makes them see the world a little bit differently. And this was definitely that for me. So I started going down kind of a dark hole of learning about recycling and how unfortunately, so little plastic is recycled of what we create every year. And how 17 billion pounds enter the ocean every year and, and you know, all the wild statistics about how bad plastic pollution is getting and getting into our oceans. But I was reassured to hear that there is some innovation in the space for Adidas for example, taking plastic water bottles and soda bottles and creating polyester yarn out of that. incorporating that into their clothes into their shoes, things like that. So it was that was kind of a bit of a beacon of hope for me that there are starting to be organizations that are utilizing this material and upcycling it. So that was encouraging to me. And about a month or so later, I was walking to the T to go to work as I'm sure you're familiar with Boston. The good old tea, the good old redline,
Jenna Valente 9:29
good old red line. That's what I was gonna say.
Deirdre Horan 9:33
Good old red line. And I had my umbrella with me because it was raining, which tends to do very often in New England. And it flipped inside out on me and one of the ribs cracked and that was just like a like every everybody has had that moment where they're like, oh, now I'm soaked. It's broken. It was it was a frustrating moment and I threw it in the trash and I kept walking And then I had that very cheesy, very cliche aha moment. I'll admit it, it was. It definitely hit me. And I walked back to the trashcan and I saw that the canopy is made from 100% polyester yarn. So the pieces of the puzzle kind of came together there for me. Yeah, this polyester yarn is being made from upcycled PT bottles. Why can't we use that in a consumer good like an umbrella? These days, in our current times, there are no eco friendly options when it comes to umbrellas, which are a very, especially in New England, but in many places in the world, a frequently used consumer product. So the more I thought about it, the more I decided that it might be an interesting avenue to pursue, there really isn't a name brand associated with the space either. So it felt like a good opportunity to make a name brand be a sustainable product.
Jenna Valente 10:59
Yeah, um, you know, I heard I heard you mentioned a little bit about you. I think probably getting out my next question, which is why umbrellas. But I heard you mentioned that there's not really somebody in the market right now like a big name brand, and that most of them are made with polyester. So those are like your two main motivating factors for and that aha moment that that tragic day with, I feel like all of us have been there. When you're like, on your way to work. You're, you're looking cute. You're all dressed up, and then all of a sudden, your umbrella flips inside out. And it's just everything's a mess from there.
I was wearing suede shoes too brutal. I looked like a raccoon and my shoes were ruined. And it was it was a tough day. I mean, a life changing day. So I guess I can't complain.
Jenna Valente 11:52
Yeah, you know, whenever I see that happen to somebody on the sidewalk, I empathize and sympathize with them as well. So it's like, it's just like a rite of passage for rainy Drew. Yeah, so so I'm assuming that's why you chose umbrellas. But I don't know if you had any other any other like driver to choose that product, or if you're planning on adding additional products after you launch?
Deirdre Horan 12:15
Yeah, so that is the primary reason that I chose them. But the The more I dug into it, and I think at this point, I've probably done more research into umbrellas than any normal human ever would. But the more I dug into it, the more I just found out how horrible they are for the environment as as a consumer product, all the way from creation to disposal. They're made out of the Virgin polyester, plastic, other types of plastic, therefore, they're non recyclable, and they burn fossil fuels upon creation, the supply chain is really long, so that in itself, and then in addition, you know, you use them two times, three times, and then they break, and then they're no longer usable. You can't recycle them. And ultimately, 1.1 billion umbrellas end up in landfills every year. Holy cow. Yeah. Yeah, that's what I said. And I thought so yeah, so it felt like I mean, just the nature of the product itself, that it could definitely use some improvement, both from a security stability standpoint, as well as an environmental standpoint.
Jenna Valente 13:29
So what about so I heard you mentioned the canopy? What about the rest of the structure? Is it because when I'm envisioning this, I think about, like, the metal extender pole part. And then like the part you hold on to, which is I feel like that's usually made out of like a plastic or some other like, maybe they wrapped like a foam around it. I've seen wood with your products, what what is like the rest of it made out of?
Deirdre Horan 13:58
Yeah, so the, I think you're talking about referencing the shaft? Yes.
Jenna Valente 14:06
I'm not an expert in
Deirdre Horan 14:08
that I'm pretty much the only person that's ever. So yeah, that that's actually gonna be made of stainless steel. And right now, it's typically made of fiberglass, which is a non recyclable material, whereas stainless steel can be reused. And the handle itself will be made of bamboo actually, sustainable bamboo. So as you've mentioned, prior and current umbrellas are made, the handles are made from plastic or from wood, but you know, I love the look of the wood umbrellas, but I also couldn't really justify cutting down trees, but saving the oceans is definitely an internal struggle. And it took a while for me to find the right material, but I have a prototype or two now and I love the way that bamboo looks. So I'm really happy with that.
Jenna Valente 14:58
Yeah, and you know, bam View is such a sustainable product, it's something that I feel like is it's a great choice. It's, it's, there's plenty of it. And it's really easy to continue growing it. So I think that's a wonderful choice for the handle. And you know, before we talk a little bit more about, like the process of how these are made, and you know, the the operation that you have going on, I'd like to take a moment to define a couple of terms for folks that may be unfamiliar with things like ocean bound plastic, or upcycling. Will you elaborate a little bit more about what is ocean bound plastic? And why is it a problem?
Deirdre Horan 15:40
Yeah, sure. So ocean bound plastic is really defined as non collected plastic that's found within 50 kilometers of an open waterway or coastal area. And it also has to be what's called mismanaged waste. So we're fortunate enough in Massachusetts in the United States to have garbage trucks and recycling centers that will come to our curbs come to our doorsteps and take our trash on a regular basis. But a lot of countries because they don't have strong waste management systems, they don't have that type of security. And so trash ends up kind of in in many more places, and it is just in our simple garbage, garbage trucks. So it's considered ocean bound if it's mismanaged if it's within the certain parameters of the ocean. And the country in which it is has a poor waste management system.
Jenna Valente 16:41
And what is upcycling? Sorry, but I was I like I feel like I asked that kind of slowly, but it was because as I was saying it, I was thinking about this, there's this like office episode or like this joke where, you know, someone asked like says like, it smells like up dog in here trying to get somebody to say like, what is up dog? And I feel like, I feel the way to say that is like what is up? But yes, anyway, can you explain what upcycling is?
Unknown Speaker 17:12
Well, first of all, it's
Unknown Speaker 17:12
a great episode,
Unknown Speaker 17:13
I know exactly what you're talking about. And I love it.
Deirdre Horan 17:17
Um, and yeah, of course, so upcycling is basically just taking one product and turning it into another to extend the materials lifecycle. So in this case, it would be taking a plastic bottle and turning it into yarn, which turns into an umbrella canopy. But it can be as simple as you have a pair of jeans, you cut them off, and now you have shorts. You know, they get dirty on the bottom. You don't want them to be jeans anymore. They
Jenna Valente 17:45
look great to shorts, good old shorts.
Deirdre Horan 17:47
Yeah. Shorts Exactly. I'd say Another example is face cream. If you were to have that in, you know, a plastic or a glass jar, you know, run out of cream, you clean it out, you put rings in there, or jewelry or something along those lines. You're upcycling the item to take it from what it initially was intended for. And you're just giving it a whole other life.
Jenna Valente 18:12
Trash to treasuring it. Exactly. Yeah.
Deirdre Horan 18:15
It's really cool when you think of when you start to think like oh, what could this What can I use this for? What can I take what it's initially made for and get a little more creative and and make it valuable in another way? Yeah, and
Jenna Valente 18:29
I heard you mentioned plastic bottles, and then specifically I think you said p t plastic bottles? I don't know what those are. But but are is that like the only type of plastic you're you're using? Or are there certain types that are that work better for umbrellas? Or this this yarn that there is being created out of it? Like, what types of plastic are our most ideal? For I know, I'm like, ideal might not be the best word because like no plastic is ideal. But But for the purposes of an umbrella. What types of plastic work best?
Deirdre Horan 19:07
Yeah, so it's, it says PT bottles, so water bottles, soda bottles, some different shampoo or, or beauty products is typically where you'll find this type of plastic, single use plastic and Okay, the vast majority of the cases. So that's right now where the vast majority of innovation has been in the space of recycling. And so that's where the polyester yarn comes into play, because we basically break down the PT bottles, plastic bottles, and utilize that to create the polyester yarn. So yeah, I mean, it's this great process, and unfortunately, there's over 200 types of plastics. So it's just kind of a drop in the bucket, but it's definitely a step in the right direction.
Jenna Valente 19:55
Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, I'll admit that I have obviously, I think If you're anybody listening to this, if you could see like here that I have no idea how umbrellas are made and know very little about umbrellas. But will you walk me through like the whole process of your operation? So I'm thinking about like, like, where do you source your materials from? Like, we heard about some of the types of materials that you use and not they're ocean bound plastic, but like is, are there groups that collect this plastic and then turn it into the yarn? Like, how do you even go about finding the with those people like I want I'm just so curious to hear about like, all of that nitty gritty of how you go from, like a plastic bottle, like 50 kilometers away from a shoreline collected and then turned into yarn then turned into an umbrella.
Deirdre Horan 20:54
Yes, it is, it is a supply chain. So the way that it works is I work with a company that works with an organization that has multiple locations in Southeast Asia where I mentioned, the vast majority of plastic flows into the oceans. So they work and it's actually a job in those countries to to be be recycler. So to go around, and to pick up these plastic bottles and this different type of plastic that is considered valuable because they turn it into a recycling facility, it becomes a new product. And they are paid for that, you know, the work that they do, and that aspect of the supply chain. So that's the first step is actually getting the bottles, bringing them to recycle facility. And then those bottles are shaved down, well, they're cleaned, and then they're shaved down, and then they're they turn into pellets. And then from the pellet form, they're put through machinery that takes them from that that broken down pellet, and they create the yarn from there. So it's a machine that takes the the pellets and creates yarn. So after the yarn is created, the the yarn is sent to a fabric mill and as you know, the actual sheets of polyester fabric are created. And from the fabric mill, and then we go to that umbrella factory, all the all the yards of fabric are sent to the umbrella factory, and then they're assembled there.
Jenna Valente 22:30
Well, if you have more more to share about how the umbrella is made, I don't want to cut you off, because I was gonna ask like, I'm not entirely related question.
Deirdre Horan 22:38
No, I mean, that's, that's pretty much those are the steps in the process.
Jenna Valente 22:42
Yeah, so I was just gonna add that. My understanding is that you're looking for some consumer feedback at the moment too. So when, when I heard you talking about like, the different fabrics being made, I was thinking about on your website, there's a place where people can go not only to learn more about your company, but also to provide some consumer research and feedback on like, what types of patterns and designs and things that call to them. So I wanted to be sure to mention that to listeners.
Deirdre Horan 23:13
Yeah, thank you. Yeah, I mean, I'm making this 100% for the customer. So I want them to have as much say in how the product ultimately looks and feels as possible. So I am 100% open to any any feedback and any insight into what people are looking for in this product.
Jenna Valente 23:30
And will you share what the website is for people that are curious to learn more?
Deirdre Horan 23:35
Sure. So it's www dot DRI Dr. I dot Earth.
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Jenna Valente 24:35
I'm just so curious to you about the experience of being an entrepreneur and starting your own business because even though I have a lot of I feel like I have a lot of side projects and hobbies. I have not ever ventured into starting my own business or venturing out on my own like that. So will you tell me more about what your experience has been like with starting your own business?
Deirdre Horan 25:00
Yeah, absolutely. It's been very rewarding and very stressful, also very overwhelming. It's just been a lot of emotions all at once. But it's also just so rewarding. I received prototype when I received my first prototype, it was just such a an emotional experience, because you see all of your hard work and the early mornings and the late nights and all of that kind of come to fruition. And with this product, and with I feel any social impact product, you hold it in your hands, and you know that you made a tangible difference just with that. So, dry umbrellas specifically, were able to avert about 22 bottles of plastic bottles worth of plastic from entering the ocean. So just kind of feeling the gravity of that when you hold the product in your hand makes makes everything worth it.
Jenna Valente 25:57
Yeah, like makes it makes it all real.
Deirdre Horan 25:59
I love that. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. But yeah, me to answer the question from an entrepreneurial standpoint, it's very, it feels like a roller coaster. Definitely. And you're definitely not wearing a seatbelt.
Jenna Valente 26:11
What is it? What are some of the like, the biggest challenges that you've faced in in starting up your your company?
Deirdre Horan 26:19
Yeah, I mean, I think the overseas production not being able to see it right in front of my eyes is is pretty difficult. And also just, I mean, the fact that I'm a first time entrepreneur, I didn't go to business school. So I'm definitely kind of winging things a little bit, which is super fun. And I feel like also kind of gives a competitive advantage to a degree because I don't think I'm doing things the way they've been traditionally done. So So yeah, that part of it. It's just been been super fun. But when it comes to challenges, there is actually a pretty funny story. But the first prototype I received, like I mentioned, I was so excited, holding it in my hands. And I finally took it outside for the first time that it rained, and it wasn't waterproof.
Jenna Valente 27:10
I'm really glad that you tested it before selling a bunch of even though it was just April Fool's Day, like when we're recording this, it was it's close to April Fool's Day. But
Deirdre Horan 27:24
yeah, so that was a that was the challenge. It was very, a very high moment. And then also, when I realized kind of how much work we still have left to do, it was a bit of a disappointment as well.
Jenna Valente 27:35
Yeah. And you know, I think all of this, all of these experiences go into what will ultimately be like the story of dry and this company and all of the like, ups and downs and the roller coaster rides. I mean, we talked about some of the challenges, but what are what are some of the things that bring you the most joy? And like, what do you find to be the most rewarding part of doing all of this?
Deirdre Horan 27:59
Oh, yeah, I mean, I think, like I mentioned, knowing that I'm having a tangible impact, and that I'm giving consumers the ability to also have a tangible impact. I think that climate change in general, and the ocean plastic crisis, as well, are just so overwhelming, like you hear those statistics, and it's like, what can I possibly do to make this better? Mmm hmm. It feels very crippling at times. And I think the satisfaction of knowing that, that I'm going to put a product out there that will have an impact and will give people the ability to know that they're having an impact, too, is is definitely something that brings me a lot of joy. And a lot of excitement about this product, and about the business just in general because I do hope to, to expand and to utilize as much of this ocean bound plastic as possible. Because the more we use, the less that actually gets in the oceans. And it was interesting i was i was listening to Captain Charles Moore who I'd mentioned previously, and he was saying that we shouldn't be trying to go into the oceans and clean it up because interestingly enough, the oceans will clean themselves with various tides, it will start spitting out these microplastics but we're not really giving them a chance because we keep dumping plastic and whether we want to call it you know, 8 million tons or a garbage truck every minute or a bag of garbage for every inch of the coastline around the world like however you want to explain it we are just we're not doing them any favors. So I think the idea that what we're doing at dry is going to be able to put a dent in that is really exciting.
Jenna Valente 29:41
Yeah, you know, I'm not like so sure about like, it's such a complex problem with the ocean clean up and like once it's in there, removing it and I agree with you that I you know, like the number one thing needs to be like stopping Just the pouring of plastic into the ocean. And like, I feel like if anything else, like our focus needs to be on like, holding the the people that keep creating these plastics accountable, and then turning off the faucet, and then from there, we can really be focusing on like cleaning up the ocean and like getting it out of there and removing it. But, you know, I think that you also mentioned to you something that I feel like I always try to, like center myself on if I feel like I'm getting overwhelmed with just how large and complex climate change in the climate crisis in the plastic pollution prices crisis, like, everything that's going on can feel if you're just one individual trying to do your part. And like, it's exactly that, like we are each our own individual trying to do something good for the world. And I think that's where, like a lot of the answer and motivation lies is like, figuring out like what your sphere of influence is, and like just doing what you can. And then when we have a lot of people doing that, paired with policies that are like holding big polluters accountable and investing in clean and renewable energy, right, like we're we're like, approach it needs to be an issue that we're like approaching from all different angles. But in terms of that specific moment where there's like, just a person standing there feeling this like crushing weight of all of the challenges of the world, like just taking a moment to like, take a deep breath and be like, what can I do? And like you have found that and like, I can help reduce the some of the plastic that is like going to enter the ocean otherwise?
Deirdre Horan 31:49
Yeah, I think it really can't be underestimated how much power we have as consumers. Mm hmm. I do 100% agree with you that it needs corporations need to be held accountable. I think that there's really no disputing that for sure. I just think it's, it's dangerous if customers don't realize how much power they have in their purchases, because it really I mean, it really is incredibly tangible. If you think about businesses that have gone out of business, like blockbuster, for example, consumer behavior just changed, and because of that, businesses go under. So it's like we do have an incredible amount of power as consumers to make or break the way that businesses are run. So I think that's just important to keep in mind. Definitely.
Jenna Valente 32:37
And I heard you mentioned a few minutes ago, you're hoping to expand as you know, as dry goes on and grows and is established and your products are available. And I'm wondering what does, what does expanding look like? What does your vision for the future look like?
Unknown Speaker 32:57
Yeah, so I mean, now that we, we've managed to make them waterproof. I think that once you know, once we get the umbrellas up and going and hopefully begin building dries reputation out, I think there really wouldn't be much stopping us from expanding that line of weatherproof wire, whether it be jackets or different protective wear, if we wanted to go into tents or things like that, there's really a lot of different avenues we can pursue. And I just think honestly, it will end up being about measuring the the effectiveness that whatever the space we move into will have. Because we just want to make sure again, it always comes down to we want to have the biggest impact possible. So we definitely want to expand and where we expand to will definitely be determined by the the size of the impact we can have. Mm hmm.
Jenna Valente 33:57
And I'm sure that a lot of people listening are wondering what is the best way that they can follow along and stay in touch with you and your work?
Deirdre Horan 34:05
Yeah, so we're on Instagram. It's dry. Dr. I underscore umbrellas. And that's actually the same handle on Twitter as well. Dry dry underscore umbrellas. I know I'm throwing people for a loop with the d-ri but I really wanted there to be a raindrop above the eye. So we we we ended up spelling it that way. I
Jenna Valente 34:29
also wouldn't be surprised and you may have known like you probably know this from like market research and all of that. But like I wouldn't be surprised if there was like 100 different types of like dry calm or dried org or like dry versions of it.
Deirdre Horan 34:44
Yeah, I did run into that looking for a domain. Yeah, yeah.
Jenna Valente 34:47
And you know, so as I wrap up my shows, I like to ask all of my guests a series of following questions. I've found that it's this like interesting way to like glean a little last insight from people and And then start to like, notice themes from all of these, like experts and really interesting people that are thinking about climate change and you know, their own areas of expertise. But like, it's just been really cool to like, see all these different themes? Or or if someone says something that we haven't thought of, but should consider yet. So starting with, which I feel like I might be able to guess your answer this question, but, but we'll see. So what do you think is the most pressing environmental challenge that we are facing?
Do you want to try to answer what I want?
Jenna Valente 35:36
Well, I was gonna say plastic pollution, but
Deirdre Horan 35:43
definitely up there, you.
You, You nailed it on the head, I would say plastic pollution for sure. I would also say kind of a bit of a what we were talking about there about consumers not thinking that what they do matter. Because when it comes to plastic pollution that goes hand in hand with plastic consumption. So you know, people can think that they're using a water bottle or whatever type of plastic it is, doesn't matter. And I'm not trying to throw stones by any means. I know, I've had my fair share of iced coffees in my life, I totally get it. But just kind of holding yourself to that that account, you know, having that accountability, that whether it's purchasing the right things, or purchasing the wrong things, but those choices do matter. And I'd say that's a challenge just because it feels like they don't right, like you feel like you're just one person, how could you possibly have an impact? But having that shared group mentality is is a little dangerous. Yeah,
Jenna Valente 36:44
together, we are very powerful. Mm hmm, exactly. And because I know that I talk about, like on this show, we talk about climate and sea level rise and plastics and a lot of things that can seem very overwhelming. So I always try to infuse some energy or inspiration or optimism or anything like that, as we like, round out the show. And so I'm wondering what you are energized about moving forward, like what is what is giving you energy and motivating you.
Deirdre Horan 37:17
I have been fortunate enough in this journey to talk to multiple youth activists. And it is like the most inspiring motivating thing ever honestly, talking to like, a 15 year old or 16 year old about how like, and they just know their stuff through and through. It's almost intimidating to have conversations with them because they're so smart. They are so talented at like, you know, going after their goals and knowing exactly the best ways to pursue and have the greatest impact. It's just yeah, it's it's been wonderful speaking to them, so organized to them. They're very organized. It's really impressive. You know, having those conversations I mean, to girls, I was fortunate enough to speak to they had plastic bands band in the, in the Philippines, like it's, it's pretty nice. And they understand that mentality very well of like, okay, let's come together and we can make changes this way.
Jenna Valente 38:16
Do they happen to be the by by plastic bags? You Oh, okay. Yeah, so I'm familiar with them. I studied a little bit in Indonesia, for after grad school, and was just so inspired by them. If anyone listening hasn't heard of them, if you just look them up there, they're doing a lot of really great work in a place like that has just a whole suite of really complex challenges being like, you know, island nations.
Deirdre Horan 38:47
Yeah, they, I think that they definitely give me energy, that type of empowerment and that type of persistence and strength that they're showing, and they're not stopping for anything or anyone. So
Jenna Valente 39:01
yeah, this hunger generation. They're, they're so amazing. I, I recently had a show come out. That was a is a crossover show with another host on this network who is focused on the UN decade for Ocean Sciences. It's like a long thing. But basically, like the UN is focusing like this decade is the theme of it is like all on like ocean and sustainable development and like research and all of this amazing stuff. And they have this Youth Advisory Council, that is helping advise what the UN is doing and like all the work that's going to be done over this decade. Because really, when you think about a decade going by, like eventually they're going to be the adults at the end of it that are impacted by all the work that we're doing now. So I think that that is very wise of the UN to be inclusive of younger generations, but also like through talking to these people. I am just floored and so impressed by They're drive their knowledge. They're just they're just so brilliant. And they definitely energize me too.
Deirdre Horan 40:07
For sure, for sure they're Yeah, they're truly amazing.
Jenna Valente 40:11
Yeah. And so this, this last one is kind of a two parter. And sometimes I find that the first part is also the second part, but we'll leave that up to you. But what is the best advice that you've ever been given? And then following that, what advice do you have for our listeners?
Deirdre Horan 40:30
Um, so it's interesting, the best advice I've been given is honestly, probably by one of those youth activists, her name is Hannah testa. And she's I mean, she sent Ted conferences, she's spoken in front of the UN. She's just she's an absolute powerhouse. And she's 18 years old. And she does have heavy focus on plastic pollution in the oceans. And, you know, I got on the phone with her. And I think I made a comment like, Well, you know, I'm not an environmentalist. To the degree you are. I haven't been doing this since I was four. And she said something that really resonated with me, and she was like, everyone is on their own journey.
Unknown Speaker 41:08
Deirdre Horan 41:10
Yeah. And I just felt like that was super cool, because I feel like a lot. A lot of the issues surrounding climate change and consumer behavior is that people feel are forced to feel a little guilty sometimes.
Unknown Speaker 41:24
Unknown Speaker 41:24
There's a lot of shame. Yeah, there's
Deirdre Horan 41:26
a lot of shame around it. And I think, you know, being pushed to be vegan, that's just going to be pretty unrealistic for most people. So we have to find a good middle ground. And we have to find the type of attitude that I feel like she portrayed, which is, as long as you're doing something, you're taking steps in the right direction. And I think that, that's just something for everybody to keep in mind. Definitely.
Unknown Speaker 41:51
Deirdre Horan 41:54
When it when it comes to advice I would give, I feel like I've definitely beat a dead horse with the with the consumer behavior. But yeah, I mean, I think I would say I think that's great advice for anyone when Hannah told me, which is just that as long as you're taking steps, as long as you're doing things, and being mindful of what you are doing, and striving to improve in that. I mean, that's, that's what we can ask for. And yeah, and kind of getting rid of this type of shame. I feel like it's a similar shame, to be honest, around entrepreneurship to is if you're not all in on it, if you're not working around the clock, 24 you're not working 24 seven, or environmentally, if you're not a vegan, then you're not doing it correctly. And I just don't think that that's true. And I don't think we should hold people to that standard.
Jenna Valente 42:44
I agree. I totally agree. Um, yeah, I know, I think that especially now a lot of this has come to light with so many of us working from home, where, like, learning to set boundaries is so healthy. And, you know, I hope that's something that we can continue, like, you know, into the future if we're able to get a mass amount of people vaccinated. And we find ourselves in a healthy world, again, like being able to set boundaries and not conforming to standards of what other people expect from you like, it's okay to do it in your own way and listen to yourself, and trust yourself and not feel like you need to eat, sleep and breathe every single waking moment of your job. Like we are very complex, well rounded human beings. And we should live that way. For sure. Absolutely. Yeah. Well, Deirdre, thank you so much for joining me. And I just really enjoyed this conversation. And I look forward to staying in touch and following along with your journey, and then hopefully soon enough, having a dry umbrella of my own.
Deirdre Horan 43:54
way for that day. Thank you so much for having me, Jenna, and this podcast. I mean, you're doing amazing work with it. And I think it's really special and important. So thank you for doing that as well.
Jenna Valente 44:04
Thank you. And I would also like to thank the listeners. If you like what you heard and want to hear more shows like this one. You can find the American shoreline Podcast Network wherever you listen to podcasts, subscribes, rates, and reviews are always appreciated. And if you're on social media, you can connect with us on Twitter and Instagram at coastal news 365 and on Facebook, at the American shoreline Podcast Network. You can also connect with me personally on Twitter. I am at Yana bene that's why and an A B and an A. And then on Instagram I am at Jenna volante. So find us online and let's chat about our beautiful coastlines.