A fast-growing national beverage company is backing a local nonprofit’s own recovery and restoration efforts after being hit by Hurricane Ian.
Charleston-based Island Brands USA, a lifestyle beverage company offering premium beers, craft spirits and ready-to-drink cocktails, recently donated 1% of its Florida sales to the Water Warrior Alliance (WWA) of St. Petersburg announced.
The Alliance uses networks of debris divers to improve ecosystems, collect critical marine data, and operate in communities from Tampa Bay to the Florida Keys. Last month, the nonprofit and its founder, Jenna Byrne, focused on helping people and waterways devastated by Hurricane Her Ian.
“80% of the debris that falls in waterways sinks, and wind-borne debris is the number one way debris moves through water,” says Byrne.
“Thus, when you take these two facts together, the coastline there is overwhelmed with debris that is polluting the water.”
That contamination is evident from space, as satellite imagery highlights the vast amounts of debris-filled storm spills that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico after the storm. A joint red tide map from the University of South Florida and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Service (FWC) subsequently showed high levels of red tide. Karenia Brevisred tide-causing organisms from Lee County to the mouth of Tampa Bay in the following weeks.
In addition to diving for debris and collecting water samples, Byrne deploys Water Goats around stormwater basins to collect debris before it enters delicate ecosystems. The system consists of a floating net that traps debris, and Byrne’s team designed a couple to mitigate red tide, he said.
However, Byrne said WWA is a small organization and Island Brands’ support will help “accelerate” cleanup efforts and provide food and essentials to those facing a long road to recovery. said.
Byrne, who is from Florida, also lived in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. I was there.
While there, someone introduced her to a cavitation cleaner. This is a technical system that separates the barnacles from the bottom of the boat without releasing heavy metal-filled paint. Byrne therefore began testing water samples for these toxic metals.
“And I found tons of microplastics and junk,” she said. “So instead of producing more citizen science reports, as many of my partners were already doing, I decided to take action and get rid of marine debris.”
Byrne returned to St. Petersburg and launched WWA in February 2017. The Alliance currently includes organizations such as Keep Pinellas Beautiful, the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, the City of St. Petersburg and Madeira Beach.
According to Byrne, the organization takes a multipronged approach to debris removal. She frequently hosts debris diving events modeled after fishing competitions.
“Depending on the area we’re in, we actually give them to local artists,” she added. After each tournament, we put up some cool artwork, which is fun.”
Byrne said the proceeds from the tournament will benefit WWA’s children’s programming and camps.
After Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana residents lived in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) trailers for years. organized an activity. Many are dependent on the local ocean economy, and there are even a few people she calls partners.
Byrne said the proceeds from Island Brands, recently recognized by Inc. as one of the fastest growing private companies in the U.S., will support these efforts and the regional Ocean Sweep Trash Collection Tournament in the spring. I explained that I would help. The partnership stems from her two organizations’ involvement in her 1% for the Planet program, which commits companies to donate at least 1% of their annual turnover to environmental causes, she said.
Co-founder and CEO Scott Hansen said in a statement: “Florida is a place close and dear to our hearts. Giving back to support the residents and communities affected by Hurricane His Ian was an easy one for us.”
Byrne said WWA is one of several groups in Florida that fits the company’s mission and brand and began formulating a partnership last month. She thanked the nonprofit for the support it needs to increase its impact.
Byrne notes that along Florida’s southwestern coast, the tourism and hospitality industries are in ruins. She plans to work with as many local organizations as possible to help residents rebuild their livelihoods.
“Because they will do the same for us,” Byrne added. “The Gulf Coast must unite. We are all like-minded individuals here.” We love our country.”