You know we’re obsessed with sea turtles here at Lost Years HQ, right? To mark Earth Day 2023 we thought we’d explain in a little more depth why we fell in love with them and what inspired us to create a rum brand dedicated to protecting these adorable ocean creatures.
An annual coming together of people, businesses and governments, Earth Day isn’t just an awareness day – after 53 years it’s now a global movement involving more than one billion people in 193 countries! The theme this year is ‘Invest In Our Planet’ and it’s a wake-up call to the world to take action before it’s too late.
So please join in and do your bit – read on to learn more about Lost Years and find out how you can support our marine conservation mission.
How we got here
It all started one night in Jamaica back in September 2019.
Our founder, Lee, and his young family were on holiday in Negril – their last big break before COVID hit. That day Lee, a rum fan for many years, had been out to visit one of the country’s most revered distilleries, Hampton Estate, while his wife Trudy and children stayed at the resort and learned all about the sea turtles that nest in that part of the world. Over dinner that night they got talking and, by the end of the night, had hatched an idea to bring beautiful rum back to the UK from the Caribbean and sell it to raise money for sea turtle conservation.
From that seed of an idea, Lost Years was born.
Everything about our brand is the result of that conversation over a jerk dinner! The name Lost Years is a reference to the early years of a sea turtle's life. The decisions we made about packaging, the bottle we chose, the fact that we’re a zero plastic business – all of that was driven by our mission, to save more than a million endangered sea turtles.
It took a year to get everything in place – to source the best rum in the Caribbean, to identify the right charity to work with - and Lost Years finally launched at the height of lockdown, in November 2020.
Since then it’s been a rollercoaster! We’ve featured on TV three times, have been showcased across the national media and, in just two-and-a-bit years, through the work of our global partner charity, SEE Turtles, we have helped save more than 63,000 sea turtles.
Why sea turtles?
As anyone who has seen one up close will attest, baby sea turtles are super-cute, but that’s not the only reason we wanted to save them!
For us, sea turtles are in many ways symbolic of the many challenges our world faces. Our fragile blue planet relies on healthy oceans – and healthy oceans rely on sea turtles.
Sea turtles are some of the ocean’s most unique and important animals. The seven species of sea turtles inhabit every ocean and nest in more than 100 countries. Did you know you can find them nesting in the Mediterranean and it’s not that unusual to hear about lost juvenile sea turtles being spotted off the coast of the UK! They play valuable roles in ocean habitats, but six of the seven species are threatened or endangered due to human-caused threats.
Sea turtles are a ‘keystone species’, which means they play a vital role as part of their environment and have a notable influence on other species around them. Put simply, if a keystone species is removed from a habitat, the natural order is likely to be disrupted, impacting other wildlife and fauna in all sorts of ways.
Sea turtles help protect the coral reefs, which are crucial for the survival of many other marine creatures – hawksbill turtles help reefs by eating sponges that compete with them for space. They help control their pray - leatherback sea turtles, for instance, eat lots of jellyfish, which helps stop jellyfish depleting fish stocks – helping support the wider food chain and sustainable fishing.
Turtle nesting helps beaches. The nutrients left behind by eggs and hatchlings that don’t survive provide an important source for coastal vegetation.
Hatchlings are an important source of food for many animals. Birds, fish, and mammals, like raccoons, rely on plentiful hatchlings to survive during nesting season.
Sea turtles are important for coastal economies and native communities too. Many places rely on turtle watching or diving for jobs and income and a number of indigenous communities revere sea turtles as part of their cultures. Plus there are emotional and psychological benefits to seeing a sea turtle in the wild!
Green turtles grazing on seagrass is an important way to keep seagrass beds healthy. We’re only just learning about the impact seagrass has on our planet – it really is an ocean wonder-plant, absorbing carbon upto 35 times faster than a tropical rain forest!
Aren’t they amazing! And these are just a few of the ways sea turtles support bio diversity and the overall health of our oceans.
But it goes even further than that. The threats sea turtles face are manyfold and, according to some commentators, some species could become extinct within a generation or two. Imagine that – 110 million years on our planet (yes they were here with the dinosaurs!) and, sadly, they could disappear on our watch.
Global warming, plastic pollution, light pollution, human consumption, the banned trade in ‘tortoiseshell’ products, commercial fishing – all of these things have contributed to the dire situation sea turtles now find themselves in. It's no wonder just one in a thousand hatchlings make it to adulthood.
How can you support our mission?
The easiest, and definitely the most enjoyable, way to help us save sea turtles is to purchase our rum! Remember every single bottle we sell triggers a donation to our charity partner – up to ten baby sea turtles saved for every purchase. Saving sea turtles one sip at a time is what we’re all about.
But it doesn’t stop there.
If you want to get more involved this Earth Day there are lots of things you can do:
- For starters, why don’t you join us and sign the Earth Day petition to call for a global treaty on plastic.
- You can follow our lead and make a personal donation to our charity partner, SEE Turtles, directly on their website.
- If you want to go all-out, why not join in one of their upcoming conservation tours? These life changing trips are an opportunity to work with local researchers to study and help protect nesting turtles on the beach and in the water. There are some incredible trips coming up to Puerto Rico, Panama, Costa Rica and Belize. Learn more here.
- Whether you travel long haul or not, we can all take action to reduce plastic waste when we travel – sign up to the ‘Travellers Against Plastic’ newsletter to learn more.
- Become a seagrass spotter! If you love the ocean like we do, why not support the amazing work of our friends at Project Seagrass and help protect the threatened sea grasses of our world one photo at a time? Download the SeagrassSpotter app and, when you spot seagrass, take a photo and upload it. By becoming a Citizen Scientist you’ll help Project Seagrass learn more about the seagrass meadows in your area so, together, we can protect them.
- Use a reusable water bottle – this one is SO easy! Instead of buying bottled water and adding to the single use plastic crisis, get yourself a reusable bottle and simply refill with tap water! Here in the UK a staggering 38.5 million plastic bottles are used every single day – and 16 million are put into landfill, burnt or leak into the environment and oceans EVERY SINGLE DAY. You’ll save a packet too – did you know the average price of a litre of tap water in the UK is 0.1 pence, compared to 65 pence for bottled water. Against a backdrop of rising living costs, this one really is smart on every level.
For more great ideas please checkout the Earth Day website.
Photo credit: Juan Ma Contortrix