The other day, an Environmental Defense Fund post called out Trump's EPA Admin nominee Scott Pruitt for possible impropriety and what looks like "pay-to-play" situations, where Pruitt, on multiple occasions, received money from the energy industry and shortly after took efforts to defend them.
And as E&E points out, since Pruitt has a super-PAC, he can still "keep raising money from the corporate interests he is charged with regulating." On top of that, as one of the first Cabinet-level appointees (who are prohibited from soliciting money) to have a super-PAC (which exists to solicit money), the legality and potential for corruption threatens to undermine what little credibility Scott "unprecedented, secretive alliance" Pruitt would have as the EPA administrator.
5 Things You Need to Know About Trump's #EPA Pick #ScottPruitt https://t.co/wGNfmzFlJJ @sierraclub @RobertKennedyJr @Waterkeeper @mzjacobson— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1483803364.0
But not content merely pulling strings behind the scenes, the Koch network continues to pander the public with an offensively ironic effort to improve the reputation of fossil fuels by supposedly "standing up for poor, underserved communities." (Similar efforts have been taken by tobacco and soft drink companies to sell their products.) Hiroko Tabuchi, in a great piece in the New York Times, pulls back the curtain on a Koch effort to convert minorities to its fossil fuel religion—in some cases fairly literally, as the piece opens with a scene from a Koch-sponsored gospel concert.
The front group putting on the show is Fueling U.S. Forward, which has already come up a couple times over the short year of its existence. It puts a contemptible, self-serving effort into painting fossil fuels as "pro-human" and "sustainable," in order to improve the public image of the Koch's oily empire.
Trump's EPA Pick Rouses Suspicions Over Ties to Koch Brothers https://t.co/FwQ68452M7 @Public_Citizen @DeSmogBlog— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1482967207.0
For those wondering if perhaps the Kochs really are sticking up for the poor and not just using them for their own gain, a 2016 literature review makes it clear that "children, and especially poor children, now bear a disproportionate burden of disease from both environmental pollution and climate change due to fossil fuel combustion."
And abroad, even more heartbreaking are the 1.3 million African children who are starving thanks to a drought amplified by climate change. Their families are surviving by making soup out of chalk or ash from the fire, with one man even contemplating selling his 10 year old daughter as a bride so she'd be the husband's responsibility to feed.
Meanwhile, the Koch's Fueling U.S. Forward reportedly planned to spend $10 million a year on its pro-fossil fuel efforts.
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The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.