While most students look to the beaches to wind down during their offtime from college, this Stony Brook University student uses her free time to help save the ocean.
Two years ago, Sydney Bell, originally of Rochester, started Tidal Tees, an online clothing brand that gives 100% of its profits to ocean conservation organizations.
The 19-year-old — a sophomore studying marine vertebrate biology with a minor in ecosystems and human impact — is combining her two passions for Tidal Tees: her love for art and passion for environmental conservation.
“I always knew I wanted to get into research, but I kind of felt that I wouldn’t have a big impact on ocean conservation until I got my degree,” she said. “So I really wanted to do something now that will make a difference.”
Tidal Tees sells shirts, bracelets, hats, totes, sweatshirts and decals. Since she started up, she has raised over $20,000.
“Each month I try to pick a different group to donate to and correlate the design I do with that group’s mission,” Bell told GreaterPortJeff. “I try to find things that people can connect to and hopefully my art is spreading awareness because I know art is a good way at reaching people’s hearts.”
With 160 brand ambassadors in 17 different countries and 29 different states, Tidal Tees’ mission is to be transparent and sustainable in their products designs.
Some fabrics are made out of recycled water bottles and recycled yarn, and some are made from a closed-loop system that collects old shirts to make new ones out if the material. “If I’m preaching about sustainability and conservation, I also want my products to reflect that,” she said.
Along with sustainable fabrics, Tidal Tees’ merch is printed with water-based ink so there is no chemical runoff into the ocean or waterways, and the factories that they’re made in use solar energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
From inception to delivery, everything is eco-friendly, including the packaging that’s made from post-consumer materials.
“When you’re buying sustainable clothing you should see how it’s made,” she said. “I’ve never seen another company donate 100% of profits to ocean conservation… so with us, there’s so much transparency, you know what the products are made out of, you know where that money is going – it’s an organization you can really trust.”
Right now on her website, there are two dozen different collections that range in helping sea turtles to raise funds for animal victims of the Australian wildfires. Bell also writes a blog that discusses different sustainable living habits and reviews other eco-friendly brands.
Bell’s also partnered with SBU’s Faculty Student Association to sell a few pieces in the campus store and inside the Stony Brook University Hospital gift shop.
Above photo of Sydney Bell at the Stony Brook Southampton Campus where she’s studying this semester.
Below photos of some of the merchandise you can find online. All photos by Julianne Mosher