Billion Oyster Project
Once renowned for its thriving oyster population, by 1900 New York Harbor had become nearly lifeless due to pollution and overfishing. Two friends who met at the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, Murray Fisher and Peter Malinowski, decided to try to change that.
In 2014, they founded the Billion Oyster Project. What started as a school project to restore the oyster population to the harbor has grown into a city-wide initiative with the help of thousands of volunteers and hundreds of like-minded organizations.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, oysters “are a crucial component of global ocean health”. Not only are they skilled at filtering and cleaning their surrounding waters, their reefs act as barriers to incoming disturbances such as strong tides or storms.
The Billion Oyster Project is looking to create a sustainable future for New York Harbor and beyond with their initiative. From instituting a system to collect empty shells to serve as vehicles for oyster propagation, to offering K-12 students a STEM curriculum of science through the lens of New York’s waterways, they partner with scientists and restoration practitioners.
Their primary focus is on the youngsters who will carry this endeavor forward. As Fisher says, “Pete and I both had the opportunity to fall in love with the environment as kids, and we wanted to reproduce that feeling for as many kids in the city as possible.”
Throughout history, our oceans have provided vital sustenance, but now, this seemingly endless resource has become threatened by overfishing and poaching. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has identified sustainability of fisheries as critical: “There is no alternative to sustainability.”
Miles Woodruff, CEO of plant-based seafood company Sophie’s Kitchen, believes there is another weapon in the fight to save our oceans and wildlife. “I’m motivated by a deep desire to protect wild places and living things. Helping consumers understand the impact of plant-based foods is endlessly exciting for me.”
After working with Jane Goodall in the Congo and getting a PhD in Biology and Conservation, Woodruff realized that the largest impact an individual can have on a day-to-day basis is to be plant-based. “If you love animals, the planet, and human health, try eating plant-based a couple times a week. Every meal counts.”
Sophie’s Kitchen offers delicious alternatives to world-wide favorites like shrimp, salmon, crab, and tuna; all of their products are vegan, soy-free, non-GMO, and gluten-free. “Our core goal is to give all people the ability to eat without sacrifice. Our customers love that all our foods taste great.”