Malaury Morin, co-founder of the non-profit organization Blutopia, tells us about her zero-waste mission... for the ocean!
In this article, we wanted to tell you about a beautiful journey, but most of all we hope to inspire you by talking with Malaury Morin, co-founder of the non-profit Blutopia.
Blutopia focuses on the positive impact of individual actions to protect the ocean. This non-profit was founded by a couple: Malaury and Julien. Both are vegan, both live a zero-waste lifestyle, and both absolutely love the ocean – which is why they're so determined to protect it! Clearly, Lamazuna and Blutopia have plenty of things in common and share similar values, so it didn't take long for Lamazuna to decide to work with them!
Find out more about Malaury and Blutopia!
Let's start with the usual question: can you tell us about yourself and your background?
My name's Malaury, and I'm the co-founder of the non-profit organization Blutopia. I grew up in the seaside town of La Rochelle, on the west coast of France, and the ocean was always my playground, the place where I felt most alive. It was when I was in Bordeaux, taking preparatory classes for business school, that I met Julien. He was born much further away from the ocean, in Dijon. However, when he was at secondary school, he spent as much time as he could in the water, training for swimming competitions. It didn't take long for him to realize that all these studies were not for him, and he decided – more or less overnight – that he wanted to become a diving instructor.
As for me, I continued my studies and went on to attend the ESCP Business School, where I gradually leaned towards impact entrepreneurship. As part of these studies, I worked with the team from makesense – an unforgettable experience that lasted almost two years. In the past, I'd already gone diving in France, Italy and the Maldives, and it soon became very clear that the ocean was in danger, and that plastic pollution was one of the biggest threats. Something had to be done to protect it.
How was Blutopia born?
Two years ago, I was studying at LUISS Business School in Rome as part of an Erasmus exchange. I had quite a lot of free time, so I decided to do some research and learn more about the impact of my everyday activities on the planet, the human race, and all living beings. I needed to understand. I've read dozens of books and reports, watched hundreds of videos and documentaries, and I've learned a lot about problems related to the consumption of single-use plastic – and to our diet. I felt guilty, helpless. And then I understood that hundreds – if not thousands – of solutions already existed! So Julien and I decided to change our habits drastically, starting the next day. We became vegan and committed to a zero-waste lifestyle. But soon we felt that wasn't enough. Even more had to be done to protect our precious ocean. And that's how Blutopia was born.
In 2019, you embarked on the seven-month Blutopia Tour and visited several countries in Asia (Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, and Indonesia), as well as Australia, to meet with entrepreneurs.
Can you tell us more about why you chose these countries?
Blutopia's first major project was the Blutopia Tour. Over a period of seven months, we visited seven countries that are among some of the most affected by plastic pollution. We met with committed entrepreneurs and citizens, and we learned about 60 different initiatives for a cleaner ocean. We first went to Myanmar, then to Thailand, followed by Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia, and finally Australia. We had several objectives:
- To confront the problem of plastic pollution in some of the most affected countries – countries that are often singled out for their levels of plastic pollution – in order to gain a better understanding and insight.
- To find solutions to the problem, and identify the challenges involved in developing these solutions and increasing their impact.
To create content for our online media platforms and make a positive documentary, which we plan to release in September 2020 to give people hope and trigger change.
What were your days like during this seven-month adventure?
Our days had a similar routine. Every day, we'd get up at sunrise, around 5.30 a.m., to shoot videos and take photos, so we could share our adventure with our community. From 8 a.m., either we met an entrepreneur or we worked on our computers to process the videos and photos or prepare the next steps. At around 5 p.m., we'd head off to discover a place nearby and enjoy the sunset. Our days were always full and intense, and we hardly had any days off, but we have no regrets whatsoever! Otherwise, we wouldn't have learned about so many initiatives – 60 in all, twice what we had originally planned!
You met with many entrepreneurs who told you about their projects. Could you tell us about three that you really loved?
- Dai Khmer is a brand that offers natural beauty products, guaranteed plastic-free, and created by Vichka Vantha – an influential model in Cambodia. This inspiring woman decided to use her influence with young people in the country to raise awareness about the importance of consuming more responsibly. She's also a woman who refuses to make any compromises! When she couldn't find the ideal packaging for her products, she created it herself: a 100% compostable solution made from banana leaves and recycled paper!
The Blutopia Tour is over. Can you tell us what this amazing adventure taught you?
I learned that the ocean is resilient. During the tour, we saw reefs that had been destroyed by human activity or natural disasters, but which are now flourishing.
In Indonesia, for example, we went diving at a site on Nusa Penida island, which had been destroyed by the earthquake in 2018. It had been closed to the public for several months, but when we arrived, it had come back to life. The corals were magnificent and in perfect health. If we start applying solutions to reduce plastic pollution now, the ocean will recover. It's important that we don't lose hope and, above all, that we don't give up.
Were there any moments that really affected you?
At one point, after almost three months that were quite intense, we decided to take four days off on a remote island in Cambodia to take a break from work and rest for a while in the sun. We went to the island of Koh Ta Kiev, and found ourselves looking at a beach littered with waste. The hostel we were staying in would leave its waste between the forest and the beach before burning it. There was a sign saying "plastic-free beach in progress", but it was clear that no progress was being made at all! In the time between the waste being left there and being burned, it could get blown into the forest or towards the sea. We decided to gather it up, even though we knew that it would be back again a few days later. We couldn't just stay there and do nothing.
This was probably the most difficult moment of the Blutopia Tour. We realized just how big the problem was and we felt like a drop in the ocean. But then we remembered why we had created Blutopia, and that we weren't the only ones who wanted to protect the ocean. There were lots of entrepreneurs working every day with the same goal as us. And we remembered the words of [French activist, journalist, environmentalist and photographer] Yann Arthus-Bertrand: "It's too late for pessimism".
What was your first zero-waste step?
I've always had a drinking bottle, which I would take with me everywhere. It's a good start, and a way to avoid using up to 130 plastic bottles of water a year! When I started to adopt a zero-waste lifestyle, the first thing I did was get some loose produce bags, which I'd keep in a tote bag and always have on me, so I could say no to single-use, plastic shopping bags, which stores would systematically hand out.
You must know all about zero waste by now! What tips would you give our readers to help them achieve their zero-waste goals?
Every year, every person in France produces, on average, 536 kilograms of waste – and yet so much of this waste can be avoided by taking simple steps and adopting simple habits.
To start with, I always recommend looking at the contents of your bin and identifying any items of waste that you could avoid easily. For example, there might be lots of food packaging. You could avoid this by buying food loose, if you have a store nearby that sells loose produce. Are there lots of plastic bottles? If any of them are for toiletries, then why not try switching to solid products? Every week, in the Blutopia newsletter, we share tips for ways you can help to protect the ocean [in French]. If you'd like to learn more, feel free to subscribe!
Again, for our readers, could you tell us briefly how Lamazuna met Blutopia?
Lamazuna has supported Blutopia since we created the non-profit organization. They were the first French partner to support the Blutopia Tour. The Lamazuna team gave us all the personal care products we would need for the seven months, as well as gift sets that we could give to people who contributed to our crowdfunding campaign.
When we came back, we started a production studio. Now, what we do for our own media, we also offer for other like-minded organizations, with the aim of reaching as many people as possible and sharing solutions for protecting the ocean. In concrete terms, we create audiovisual and editorial content that aims to increase the visibility and appeal of organizations and companies that are doing something good. Lamazuna has become our production studio's first client. Working with the communications team, Julien makes videos to showcase the products and make everyone want to have a zero-waste bathroom!
Why do you think it was important for Lamazuna and Blutopia to work together?
Malaury, you know our products well. Which Lamazuna product is your favourite, and why?
Last question: how do you see the future? How do you think the ocean will be in ten years from now?
I'm optimistic by nature, and I'd like to believe in Blutopia – the utopia of an ocean free of plastic, an ocean in good health. When I read depressing news about the Plastic Continent [also known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch], about dead zones in the ocean, or about coral bleaching, I remind myself that the ocean is incredibly resilient. While the coronavirus pandemic is clearly a terrible health crisis, we have started to see positive effects on the planet as a result of the lockdown. The water in Venice's canals is clearer, fish are coming back, dolphins are coming as far as ports. All of this is proof that if we change our behaviour now, the ocean could be flourishing in ten years.