Pollution can cause major harm to Sarasota's reefs and beaches, and two new businesses are doing what they can to reduce waste that piles up in landfills. Sip n Wick, a candle and glassware maker, and Siesta Key Bikinis, which manufactures swimsuits, are both committed to creating sustainable products through the use of up-cycling and recycling.
Both businesses emerged during the Covid-19 pandemic. Although the pandemic created financial uncertainty for many, Chad Ramsey took the opportunity to forge a sustainable bikini line. There is no shortage of demand for a bikini in sunny Sarasota, but environmentally friendly swimwear isn't always easy to come by.
"You have to respect and care for the environment you live in," says Ramsey.
Each Siesta Key Bikini is handcrafted from recycled fishing nets and ocean plastic. Taken from the ocean, sanitized and broken down into microfibers, the recycled materials are woven together to create an extremely durable, soft fabric.
"They come in many different styles and textures, plus they are more resistant to chlorine, saltwater, sunscreens or oils and provide good U.V. protection," says Ramsey.
Artist and business owner Patrick Allen has also set out to change the narrative of waste.
Working in the restaurant industry, Allen noticed how much waste was produced that couldn't be properly recycled—specifically, liquor bottles. Rather than just recycle the materials himself, he and his wife, Gina, came up with the idea to up-cycle the waste into candles, trays and other household items. Different from recycling, up-cycling takes used or potential waste materials and gives them a new life. To up-cycle is to creatively reuse and rediscover the potential in unwanted objects.
"Seeing all of the bottles that couldn't be recycled due to the city's trash guidance and knowing they would end up in the landfill broke my heart," says Allen. "As humans, we can do better than that."
The couple makes more than 100 different scented candles, all homemade and contained in the up-cycled bottles. Their products can be found at the Bradenton Farmer's Market, The Beach Shop in Cortez and at Ginny's & Jane E's on Anna Maria Island.
The products range from deliciously scented candles to slumped bottles, wind chimes, plant holders and many more reimagined forms. Sip n' Wick also offers candle making classes, during which customers can create their own candle while sipping at The Beach Shop.
Buying more green products is a way everyone can begin to make a difference for the environment. Shopping green and local is a bonus.
“When you buy an item from a small business or vendor it has much more value than what the piece is worth," says Allen. "There is a sentimental value there. You see and meet the person who crafted the item, which you don’t get when buying from big business."
"I'm grateful for every customer's purchase," says Ramsey. "I love to make new connections with customers and brand ambassadors or influencers."
Products from Siesta Key Bikinis can be purchased from the company's website. For 30 percent off until the end of June, use the code SarasotaMag30.
Sip n Wick products can be found at the Bradenton Farmer's Market, The Beach Shop in Cortez, Ginny's & Jane E's on Anna Maria Island and the Rosemary Night Market in Sarasota.