Interview of the Week: Dune Ives

Dune Ives is the Executive Director of the Lonely Whale Foundation, a non-profit organization raising awareness for ocean health. At the Lonely Whale, Dune designs and leads change-making ocean conservation initiatives to address key drivers of environmental degradation and species decline. I (Miro) sat down with Dune to learn more about Lonely Whale’s latest campaign, Question How You Hydrate, a new movement that empowers consumers to choose and champion sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic water bottles while sharing their choice with the hashtag #HydrateLike. The campaign is being launched in partnership with Point Break Foundation and creative agency Young Hero.

MK: I got a chance to sit in on one of your panels last week at the Sustainable Brands where you talked with companies about creating plastic pollution campaigns that truly resonate with the public and inspire change. How do you strike the balance between lightheartedness and urgency in the campaigns you’ve developed while at the Lonely Whale?

DI: Every year we see between 8 and 12 million metric tonnes of new plastic entering the ocean. That was true in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, this year and likely to be true in 2020, 2021 and maybe even 2022 unless we really ramp up our efforts and end plastic pollution. It’s a gigantic issue but if you spend too much time on the ugly facts of this crisis you’ll just become paralyzed and 1) won’t know where to begin and 2) likely will never get started. By taking a lighthearted, though still science-based, approach to this big issue we give people an on-ramp. I think that is one of the reasons why we’ve seen both our straw and now our water bottle campaign get such great traction.

MK: Last year your For A Strawless Ocean campaign was a smash hit and played a part in the decision by businesses and municipalities to do away with plastic straws. What did you do differently in the rollout of Question How You Hydrate and what lessons from last year did you apply this year?

DI: A big lesson that we learned from the Strawless Ocean campaign is that we needed to have two things right at the very beginning: 1) an affordable and scalable solution to switch from single-use plastic to a more sustainable alternative and 2) easily accessible toolkits for individuals, businesses and NGOs to use to engage their constituencies in the effort. On launch we had both! We also recognized from our Strawless campaign that in combination with the social media Plastic Service Announcement (#StopSucking) we needed a hyper-local activation that helped ground the PSA and engage individuals in getting a deeper understanding of the issue and why this campaign matters. Our hyper-location activation was the Museum of Plastic and had more than 9,000 visitors during its five-day opening.

MK: Your new campaign encourages people to post pictures of how they hydrate without the use of single-use plastics with the hashtag #HydrateLike, did this force you to have any realizations about single-use plastics in your own life? They’re so difficult to do away with!

DI: As a society, we continue to choose convenience over caring, and businesses that produce single-use plastics are not moving quickly enough to address the 8-12 million metric tonnes of new plastic entering the ocean every year. I travel a lot, so I always bring along my reusable water bottle and my chopsticks but I still eat on the go and find that I use a lot of single-use plastics when eating in the airport. I wish I could figure out an alternative but I am struggling in this area and could use tips from readers in what they do that doesn’t end up leaking, spilling or smelling bad!

MK: This is a very personal question as for YEARS I’ve tried to get my parents to switch away from disposable plastic water bottles with moderate success. What’s your advice for convincing the people in your life to ditch plastic bottles for good?

DI: My husband told me a long time ago that no one likes to be “should upon” so I’ve steered away from telling other people what they should use instead of what they already use. Rather, I give reusables away as birthday and holiday gifts and demonstrate better practices like using my SodaStream in my home instead of buying sparkling water in bottles. We also have to remember that change is hard for everyone – whether you’re changing your diet, getting more exercise, or whatever the change is it takes time to be willing to change, to actually start to change and then to commit it to practice 100% of the time. 

MK: What inspires your #HydrateLike moment?

DI: Through Question How You Hydrate, we are giving consumers the permission to #HydrateLike they care, like the ocean matters, like future generations depend upon it. I’m a mom of a 27-year-old and a 5-year-old so I’m going to #HydrateLike a Mother and care for this planet and for my children’s future.

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