Graphic designer launches ocean-friendly retail business

Coun Janet Jefferson (left), portfolio holder with responsibility for harbours at Scarborough Borough Council; Alistair Lawson, founder of Journey Blue; and Captain Chris Burrows (right), deputy harbour master at Scarborough, Whitby and Filey.

Father-of-three Alistair Lawson, based in Leeds, said he was forced to think up a new business idea when his usual agency work dried up during lockdown.

“When lockdown hit I took on the homeschooling, the cleaning and the washing,” he said. “I was doing a school environmental project with one of the kids when my seven-year-old turned to me and asked: “What are we doing to save the world daddy?”

He added: “It got me thinking because we do general stuff like buying environmentally-friendly detergent and recycling but we weren’t going above and beyond.”

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Mr Lawson, who is a travel and adventure enthusiast, was keen to find a new venture that combined his love of the outdoors with an environmental consideration, and the result is Journey Blue.

There are two sides to the business. One is online retailing – selling ocean-friendly products to outdoor, travel and adventure enthusiasts.

He said: “There are lots of plastic-free sites which are based on household items but none which are dedicated to the outdoor and adventure sector. If you do want to find something like that you’ve really got to trawl the internet. I wanted to create a place that brought all these brands together.”

The company is set to work with a number of brands including Ocean Bottle, a reusable water bottle made from recycled water bottles; Waterhaul, which transforms waste fishing nets into recycled sunglasses, and Odyssey Innovation, which makes sea kayaks out of marine plastic.

He added: “All brands listed on are sourced, manufactured, and shipped in a way that aids the recovery of our oceans. Each brand we’ve partnered with has been chosen because they’re taking the right steps in creating a clean supply chain and helping to create a more sustainable future for ocean health.”

The other side of the business is an end-of-life fishing net collection and recycling programme, Net Collect, which aims to eliminate fishing net pollution.

Mr Lawson bought two 20ft shipping containers, which were installed last week, for Scarborough and Whitby harbours, which will provide fishermen easy access to deposit their end of life fishing nets. The nets will be sent to a recycling partner in Denmark.

The goal is to partner with harbours and ports along the whole of the UK east coast to recycle end-of-life fishing nets. Mr Lawson is looking for companies to sponsor future containers.

He is due to move from Leeds to Whitby with his family in the next few weeks as the new business gains momentum. “It allows us to be closer to the coast and the net collection,” he said.

Mr Lawson has also applied for an endorsement from the Global Ghost Gear Initiative, the world’s first global platform for tackling abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear, also known as ghost gear.

He said: “Plastic pollution in our oceans is an issue no one can claim to be unaware of. The size of the problem and the multiple facets to the sources of the problem are vast.”

Yorkshire Evening Post