Category: sustainability

Celebrate World Reef Day with Coral Reef Apparel and Reef-Friendly Sunscreen

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June 1st is World Reef Awareness Day!

Coral reefs are a priceless ecosystem that support a quarter of all ocean life and protect our coastlines. Join me in inspiring climate action with my coral reef collection for the Glowing Gone campaign by The Ocean Agency.

Wear Your Support with Apparel

Woman sitting on beach in meditation pose while wear coral reef print apparel.

This collection took 2 years to create and combines my passion for climate advocacy and my body paint experience in a vibrant staghorn coral-inspired design. My hope is that the eye-catching design helps spur conversation about climate change; Conversation can prompt action and from action comes hope. Read more about the process in this blog post.

The fabric for this apparel is made from recycled bottles and is printed with non-toxic inks. The paper products and shipping materials are also sustainable, printed on recycled paper with soy-based inks. phone wallpaper displayed on iphonesTo ensure reduced carbon emissions, the products manufactured in the U.S and I offset the carbon from every order’s shipping. 10% of profits from my collection are donated to The Ocean Agency’s efforts in protecting reefs.

If leggings, bras, hairbands, or scrunchies aren’t your thing or you’re trying to have less stuff in your life, you can still support the collection with a digital download phone wallpaper or some stickers.

Protect Our Oceans with Reef-Friendly Sunscreen

World Reef Day was started by Raw Elements USA sunscreen. It’s a certified-natural, reef safe, environmentally kind sunscreen company developed by Brian Guadagno, a 25+ year Ocean Rescue Lifeguard.

Raw Elements sunscreen in metal tins sitting on a wood surface.

Raw Elements also happens to be the sunscreen I’ve been using daily for the past few years! They offer packaging in metal tins or bio-resin tubes. I like saving the metal tins and use them to store jewelry when I travel. Here are the products I use:

Left side underwater photo of Anja Yamaji wearing coral reef leggings, right side Anja Yamaji modeling body paint and coral reef apparel on rocky beach in Hawaii.

Art and Climate Advocacy: Breanna Cooke’s Glowing Gone Collection

The Glowing Glowing Gone campaign was developed by The Ocean Agency during the filming of the Netflix documentary, Chasing Coral. Coral reefs are on the frontline of climate change and in a desperate bid to protect themselves from ocean heatwaves, some corals glow in fluorescent purple, yellow, and blue colors.

Anja Yamaji in body paint and coral reef apparel on rocky beach in Maui.
Anja Yamaji modeling Breanna’s body paint and coral reef design in Kihei, Maui, Hawaii. Photo by Breanna Cooke.

Working with Pantone and Adobe, The Ocean Agency turned these warning colors into the Glowing campaign colors and invited all artists to use them to inspire action.

Breanna teamed up with the Glowing campaign and combined her passion for climate advocacy with her body paint experience to create a vibrant staghorn coral-inspired design for apparel. Her hope is that the eye-catching design helps spur conversation about climate change; Conversation can prompt action and from action comes hope.

Continue reading to learn more about the process behind Breanna’s project or go check out her Glowing collection in her online shop.

Watch the clip from Chasing Coral that inspired the Glowing campaign:

Project Backstory

Screenshot of Glowing.org website with images of Pantone colors
The Ocean Agency teamed up with Pantone and Adobe to create the colors for the Glowing campaign.
Body painted model in colorful purple and yellow coral reef apparel sitting on rocks by the ocean with the sun setting on the horizon.
Photo by Breanna Cooke.

Breanna started her Glowing project in the fall of 2019. She stumbled upon the Glowing Glowing Gone campaign on Instagram, and was immediately intrigued. The vibrant Pantone colors combined with climate action messaging was the framework she didn’t know she needed. It was the spark that connected the dots between her graphic design, body painting, and climate advocacy work.

As a volunteer with Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Breanna regularly heard talks from climate scientist, Dr. Katharine Hayhoe. Dr. Hayhoe’s recurring theme is that one of the best things we can do about climate change is talk about it. She regularly asks her audience, “how can we take action on climate if we don’t even talk about it?” Talking about the things we care about helps us find common ground and realize that others care about it too. Talking is the first step to taking action.

“The most important thing you can do to fight climate change: talk about it.”

– Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, Climate Scientist

From Breanna’s years of experience as a body painter, she saw that vibrant colors and designs can easily prompt conversations with the audience or viewer. So her initial vision for a Glowing Gone project was to do an underwater photoshoot of a coral reef body paint design using the campaign’s colors. She knew those photos would be unique, but she wanted this to be more than a one-time body paint piece–and so developed the apparel collection.

Designing the Collection

Breanna Cooke's hand drawing the coral reef design on the ipad with the test print next to it.
Breanna designs on the iPad Pro, transfers the design to Photoshop for final tweaks, then gets test prints to ensure it lines up.

Breanna is known for using her graphic design experience to design leggings that mimic her colorful body paint work. She illustrates the designs on her iPad Pro, then uses online 3D mockup generators and test prints to get the design placement perfected. Sustainability, especially with apparel, was also really important to her. Through endless research and phone calls, she found Yoganastix in Scottsdale, AZ who could do a limited run of the design using fabric made from recycled plastic bottles.

After her first phone call with the co-owner, Brett Matheson, Breanna knew she had found the right eco-minded partner for this project. In order to use use specialized fabric and manufacture in the U.S., Breanna had to deviate from her usual print-on-demand model and order the apparel upfront. In February 2020, Breanna took the plunge and ordered 100 pairs of leggings and 100 bras. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. in March 2020.

Pandemic Pivot

Glowing Gone greeting card, Act On Climate postcards, and kraft paper stickers.
Postcards, greeting cards, and stickers designed by Breanna.

As the world went on lockdown, Yoganastix quickly switched to making face masks to keep their employees on staff. Breanna put her apparel order on pause while the reality of the pandemic started to play out. With the apparel on hold, Breanna started creating some other pieces for the project. She wanted to offer other ways for people to support her art if leggings and bras weren’t their thing. She developed stickers, greeting cards, and pre-stamped postcards using her coral reef design.

FIBOPA 2020 Breanna Cooke's body painting piece about fires in South America
Anja Yamaji modeling Breanna Cooke’s body paint design for FIBOPA 2020.

Breanna also participated in two virtual body paint events during 2020 and 2021 where she used the Glowing colors to paint climate change-inspired designs. In December 2020, she painted for FIBOPA, the International Bodypainting Festival in Argentina. The event theme focused on the climate, agriculture, and real estate development factors that have contributed to intense forest fires in South America in 2020. Her piece about caraya monkeys banding together as a group to survive revealed the parallels in her own climate advocacy where ‘the power of the individual is in the group.’

Color Voice Body Painting by Breanna Cooke
Anja Yamaji modeling Breanna Cooke’s Monarch butterfly body paint design for Bodypaint America event in 2021.

In January 2021, for the Color Voice Expo hosted by Bodypaint America, Breanna created a piece about her pollinator garden, Monarch butterflies, and finding hope through action. The phrase ‘From action comes hope’ was her takeaway from listening to an episode of the Our Warm Regards podcast about climate data, despair, and how to find hope.

By February 2021, Breanna was ready to re-start the apparel manufacturing. But by this point, many worldwide supply chain issues were starting to manifest. Yoganastix was facing many delays getting bulk fabric orders, so the coral reef apparel continued to be on hold until the fabric was available.

The Apparel Arrives

Woman wearing coral reef leggings and bra is standing on beach with hands on hips. Her back is to the camera.
Danielle Dellaquilla on Old Orchard Beach in Scarborough, Maine.

Finally in August 2021, Breanna received samples of all of the apparel sizes while she was visiting family in Maine. She still had plans to do a big underwater body paint photoshoot once back in Dallas, however she also wanted to show that you can wear your climate activism wherever you are. The clothing is intended to be a way to bring climate action to everyday activities. Breanna put out a call to friends in Maine for someone to wear the apparel on the beach. Her network connected her to Danielle Dellaquila, a nutritionist and yoga enthusiast in Scarborough, Maine. Danielle was a natural at modeling and they were able to capture some photos right before a storm came rolling in.

When Breanna returned to Dallas, the giant box of the rest of the apparel arrived. 100 pairs of leggings, 100 bras, scrunchies and hairbands!

Preparing for the Underwater Photoshoot

Breanna Cooke underwater with a camera taking a photo of Brett Stanley.
Brett Stanley (left) and Breanna Cooke (right) during Brett’s underwater portrait photography workshop.

In the fall of 2021, Breanna was eager to proceed with her final vision of doing an underwater photoshoot in a pool with a body painted model wearing the apparel. Unfortunately various scheduling conflicts caused this shoot to be delayed. Then she was presented with an opportunity to travel to Hawaii in November. It was a perfect chance to take photos in the very ocean that the Glowing campaign is working to protect. Since she did not want to use body paints in the ocean, Breanna split the concept into two shoots; an underwater photoshoot and a separate body painting photoshoot on land.

Shortly before the trip to Hawaii, Breanna seized the chance to take an underwater portrait photography workshop with Brett Stanley, an expert in the craft of underwater photos. She wanted to learn how to be a better director for underwater photoshoots and understand best practices for models. Little did she know, she would undergo a trial-by-fire with those skills in Hawaii.

The Trip to Maui

Anja Yamaji modeling Breanna Cooke's coral reef apparel underwater in Maui.
Underwater photo of Anja Yamaji modeling Breanna Cooke’s coral reef apparel. Photo by Breanna Cooke.
Breanna Cooke in ocean with snorkel mask while Anja Yamaji exits onto the beach.
Breanna and Anja took to the beach in Maui to take photos underwater. Photo by Breanna Cooke.

In November 2021, Breanna traveled to Hawaii with her friend and body paint colleague, Anja Yamaji. A few days into the trip, they ran into unexpected cancellations with the underwater photographer and model that were lined up for the photoshoot.

Determined not to leave Hawaii without some underwater photos, Breanna and Anja decided to do the shoot themselves. Using a specialized diving phone case — Breanna had brought it simply for behind-the-scenes photos and video — she used her iPhone to take the underwater photos. Anja is an experienced model, but she had never done it underwater. With the notes and tips from the workshop, Breanna coached Anja through the process and together they were able to create some underwater magic.

Breanna Cooke and Anja Yamaji selfie photo. Anja is body painted with a coral reef headpiece
Breanna and Anja after their day of body painting in Maui.

Not only was Anja the underwater model, but she was also the model for the body paint photoshoot. Breanna painted Anja over the course of a day and they made a mad dash to the beach for photos in the setting sun. The end result from both these photoshoots were the unique and striking photos to share her project with the world.

Scroll to the end of this post for behind-the-scenes video of the underwater photoshoot and body paint photoshoot and more photos of the project.

– Anne-Marie Bonneau, Zero Waste Chef

Anja Yamaji modeling Breanna Cooke's coral reef apparel underwater in Maui.
Photo by Breanna Cooke.

Breanna strives to make this project as eco-friendly as is feasible for her budget. As an independent artist, it becomes very costly to make every aspect of your work 100% sustainable. She recognizes that the apparel fabric could be even more sustainable if it was made from plant-based fibers instead of recycled plastic bottles. However those plant fabrics are currently cost-prohibitive to a small venture like this. Breanna’s hope is that in the future, eco-minded materials, products, and manufacturing will be the norm, not the (more expensive) exception.

Some of the eco-friendly aspects of the collection include:

  • Fabric for leggings, bras, hairbands, and scrunchies is made from recycled plastic bottles and printed with non-toxic inks.
  • Apparel is manufactured in the U.S. to reduce carbon emissions from travel.
  • Paper products printed on 100% recycled paper with soy-based inks.
  • T-shirts made from 60% organic cotton, 40% recycled polyester.
  • T-shirts printed on-demand to reduce waste.
  • Shipping materials are biodegradable and printed with algae ink (Exception: T-shirts ship from a separate manufacturer in mailer bags made from recycled plastic).
  • Carbon offsets for 100% of the carbon emissions from shipping/delivery. The offsets are currently funding the Acapa – Bajo Mira y Frontera Forest Conservation Project in Colombia.

Sustainable PackagingEcoEnclose Sustainable Packaging Partner

Breanna Cooke partnered with EcoEnclose to use sustainable packaging and shipping materials, with a focus on biodegradable options whenever possible. Here’s how to reuse or recycle your packaging. *Items that are printed on-demand ship separately in recycled plastic mailers.

What Can You Do?

Two phones with phon wallpaper of the coral reef design and Act On Climate wordsYou can support Breanna’s art and climate advocacy by ordering pieces from the collection or sharing her work. 10% of profits from this collection are donated to The Ocean Agency to support their work protecting the world’s oceans. Breanna’s collection includes the apparel, scrunchies, hairbands, cards, and stickers, but also digital phone wallpaper for download. The digital downloads are perfect for anyone who is trying to downsize but also wants to support the project. Currently the apparel is a limited run, however Breanna is open to doing a second print run if there is enough interest.

Questions?

Let’s chat! Reach out to Breanna via her contact form.

Scroll through the gallery for more photos from the photoshoots:
Anja Yamaji modeling coral reef body paint and apparel on rocky beach in Maui.
Anja Yamaji modeling Breanna Cooke's coral reef apparel underwater in Maui.
Anja Yamaji modeling Breanna Cooke's coral reef apparel underwater in Maui.
Breanna Cooke in ocean with snorkel mask while Anja Yamaji exits onto the beach.
Anja Yamaji modeling Breanna Cooke's coral reef apparel underwater in Maui.
Anja Yamaji modeling Breanna Cooke's coral reef apparel underwater in Maui.
Anja Yamaji modeling Breanna Cooke's coral reef apparel underwater in Maui.
Anja Yamaji modeling Breanna Cooke's coral reef apparel underwater in Maui.
Glowing Coral Reef Collection by Breanna Cooke

Coming Soon: Glowing Campaign Coral Reef Eco Leggings and Bra

Using art to inspire others to #ActOnClimate.

Climate advocacy has become a recurring theme in my personal body paint work. In December 2019, I teamed up as an artist with the Glowing campaign, a global campaign using color and creativity to accelerate ocean protection and climate action.

Coral reef in the ocean glowing purple. Courtesy of The Ocean AgencyThe Glowing campaign was inspired during the filming of the Netflix Original Documentary, Chasing Coral and developed by The Ocean Agency in collaboration with UN Environment Program. In a desperate attempt to survive increasing ocean heat waves due to climate change, some corals glow in vibrant color. The corals produce brightly colored chemicals in their flesh that act as a sunscreen. In partnership with Adobe and Pantone, Glowing made this yellow, purple, and blue colors “the colors of climate action.”

I’ve combined my passion for climate advocacy with my experience designing visually impactful leggings, to bring you bold apparel that starts conversations about climate. I’ve used the Glowing colors to create a design of staghorn coral that will be printed on recycled polyester high waist leggings, sports bras, and headbands. The apparel is sustainably manufactured in the U.S. on 92% recycled polyester and printed with non-toxic inks.

Glowing Coral Reef Collection by Breanna Cooke

The apparel is part of my larger Glowing coral reef collection of t-shirts, greeting cards, postcards, stickers, and cork coasters. The goal of this art collection is to help people to talk about climate change and/or send a colorful card to someone who needs the nudge to speak up about climate action.

I’ve worked to make every aspect of this collection as eco-friendly as possible. All of the paper products and cards are printed on 100% recycled paper and most pieces in this collection ship in biodegradable paper packaging and shipping materials (T-shirts ship in recycled plastic mailer bags).

10% of profits from this collection will be donated to the Glowing Gone Campaign and The Ocean Conservancy to protect our planet’s oceans.

Let’s be the first generation to save an entire ecosystem.

Learn more at glowing.org.