ASA understands and accepts the responsibility that it is inherent in every sailor to be the caretaker for the oceans they journey on and the bodies of water that they so often claim as their backyard.
“We enjoy the ocean and the sailing lifestyle, and it is our responsibility to ensure that we are protecting these environments not only for our enjoyment but for future generations as well.” Lenny Shabes, founder of ASA explains.
ASA has brought on Marine Conservationist, Lauren Coiro, to help with advocacy and education when it comes to how sailors interact with the environment that they call home. Sailors take from the world’s oceans. They pull from the tides and the weather and the environment. The sea and the sky is family and is familiar. To that end, ASA is working diligently to make sure to help spread the message about environmental responsibility and advocacy.
Lauren has written for ASA on the process of earning her ASA Sailing Certification. She has told her story through a four part series on learning to sail. Lauren will be contributing to ASA stories on Environmental Awareness, Sustainability and the Marine Environment.
We sat down with Lauren and asked her to introduce herself to the ASA membership:
ASA: Who is Lauren Coiro and how did you get here?
Lauren Coiro: This is a broad one! At this place in my life I see myself as a voice for the ocean and for animals. I have spent the last decade learning about the problems the ocean faces and what we can do about it. My goal is to share and embody the message that we can all do a little better to protect our seas and the natural world.
ASA: Has the ocean always been a part of your life?
Lauren Coiro: I grew up a sandy-haired Jersey shore kid who had to be coaxed out of the ocean with offers of ice cream. The water is very much a part of who and what I am. My happy place is swimming in the big blue alongside a humpback whale. Every time I dip below the surface I feel like I can breathe again.
ASA: Was environmental awareness something you grew up with?
Lauren Coiro: I came from a culture with a more naive love for nature: we enjoyed it, looked at it, barbecued and sat in it, but we did not connect to it. I grew up with the conveniences of most American consumers, which meant lots of plastic and many other ocean-unfriendly habits. It’s been so wrapped into our way of doing things, it really takes awareness and effort to avoid it. But my family has started to come around. They have even started approaching me with questions, which makes me so happy!
ASA: How do you feel is the best way to relay the right message to younger and future generations?
Lauren Coiro: I think it is so important for young people to understand two things: the current state of the world is not their fault, and it is not too late to fix it. If we speak with a message of hope and empowerment, we can inspire young people rather than frighten them. The young and upcoming generations have so much power to make positive change in the world, and there are an infinite number of ways they can contribute.
ASA: How have you spent your time working for the environment? How did you get involved in working for the environment?
I work in the solar industry now, but I have mostly worked with animals (which usually pays little). To support myself I worked in the restaurant industry, which is a poster child of our waste problem. I watched mountains of trash being made each day from plastic cups, straws, cutlery, lids, mats, cling wrap, and the volumes of food waste that flowed from the kitchen disturbed me. I couldn’t stop asking myself, “Where does this all go?”
During college I focused on coral reef systems, and traveled to various reefs around the world. I saw that not only wildlife was impacted by our environmental issues, but I also witnessed the human communities that were vulnerable to changing ocean temperatures, fisheries, and storms. I realized my lifestyle was part of the problem, and just started educating myself on how I could do better one step at a time.
ASA: What drew you to Marine Conservation and Ecology?
When I was younger I actually wasn’t really a “science” person, but always loved animals. I enrolled in a high school summer program about the environment that sent me to stay on a tiny island in Barnegat Bay. One day I was snorkeling in the bay and watched a group of dime-sized hermit crabs going about their business: comically bumping into each other, eating with their teeny claws, hiding in little patches of seagrass. Something clicked that day- I realized that the ocean is their world, and I am a guest.
Ecology is incredibly interesting because it relates to the connectedness of everything. Humans are only a small part of an incredibly complex and intertwined web of life.
ASA: Who would be ideal partners in the fight for healthy oceans and the greater good of the marine ecosystem?
Lauren Coiro: To dig ourselves out of this mess, we truly need everyone onboard: consumers, manufacturers, governments, artists, and entrepreneurs. A problem this large and complex means it needs to be addressed from all sides. The companies out there making the plastic products need to take responsibility, but as consumers we also have the power to stop buying it. Innovators and business owners need to start getting creative to bring viable solutions.
Lauren is a marine conservationist, writer, and advocate for ocean-friendly living. She’s spent her entire life in the water, snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking, and has traveled to various parts of the world to study the ocean’s biodiversity and explore coastal communities. Lauren realized that the very best way to experience and appreciate the marine world is to get out there and start sailing!
With her ASA certifications Lauren hopes to make sailing a permanent part of her life and to connect with like-minded people who share her love of the sea. She admires the hard work and simplicity that can come with the nautical lifestyle and is eager to share how her ASA experience raises questions, challenges, and new opportunities along the way.