Don't Buy My Beach Toys

Don't Buy My Beach Toys

A Different Kind of Wave

I'm writing this week from Big Island, here with my family on spring break. And I'm thinking of the last time I was here on break with my family, the fall of 2019, just after my failed Kickstarter campaign (a spectacular failure!). And, as tends to happen, I've been reflecting on this journey: This summer will mark eight years since the idea for better beach toys was born. Almost a decade – of dreaming, wondering, trying, failing, succeeding, failing again, etc. 

So why, after all of this time, effort, energy; why after we now finally have beach toys would I say something like “I don’t want you to buy my beach toys?”

Well, because I have another, bigger goal for us.

Let me explain…

The plastic pollution crisis I am trying to help solve with Rogue Wave and our beach toys is symptomatic of a much bigger issue -- we love to buy things. Also known as: consumerism. And part of the reason we love to buy things, especially things we don’t need, is because of the cost. It’s so fun to walk into a store and find something at bargain pricing – Such a steal! A great deal! And there’s a whole psychology behind why we love bargains.

Consumerism isn’t anyone’s fault. We (specifically Americans) are drawn to consumerism for all kinds of reasons, like optimistic economic forecasts, celebration or a feeling of “deserving” after surviving a global pandemic. But long before that, it was the rise of department stores in Europe and later in the US, with goods on display in storefront windows, enticing those in lower economic classes. Selling an idea, selling a feeling. Selling a dream.

Coupled with the post-World War II end of the “deprivation era” alongside an economic boom – caused in large part by the redirection and re-branding of goods and materials previously used WWII, and giant government subsidies in the areas of fossil fuels and agriculture – the American consumer was born. And none of us are immune. 

But, what does this have to do with beach toys? 

The ease of plastic and its lower cost makes it an enticing material for use in countless products. And, for us consumers who love a bargain, the price point is irresistible. 

And here is where Rogue Wave, the plastic pollution crisis, and consumerism intersect – we have an abundance of plastic at our disposal, and an abundance of uses at a bargain price, but we don’t have a solution for its end of life. Our beach toys, made with compostable plastic, solve for the disposal, designed to have minimal impact on the environment at their end-of-life, by manufacturing them using compostable plastic.  

But here’s what I really want, despite the near-decade of work I've put into Rogue Wave trying to bring this compostable, plant-based plastic alternative to market: I want Rogue Wave to inspire a wave of conscious consumers. I’d rather you not buy anything.

Because, even though I’ve made a better beach toy, even though we are using a mostly-plant based alternative to fossil-based plastic, even though we are releasing less carbon emissions on the front end of production and eliminating microplastics on the back end, even though I’ve made a better product for you…

…I still want you to wonder: Does my kid really need a beach toy? 

Not “Does my kid need this beach toy?” but “Does my kid need a beach toy at all?”

If the answer is yes, I’ve got you covered – with a toy you can feel good about, one that’s got big goals and dreams, one that wants to reshape an industry.

But if looking at the cost of a Rogue Wave beach toy compared to its conventional counterpart gives you pause, if you look at the price differential and decide you don’t actually need a beach toy, that's a win for me. Because, one consumer at a time, I hope the price differential sparks a question: Why do these toys cost so much more than those? And then, an awareness: I didn’t realize we had alternatives to fossil-based plastics. And finally, I hope it inspires us to consider not just this purchase, but all purchases: What are we buying? Why are we buying it? Do we need it? What’s it made from, and where? And what happens at the end of its life? 

If these questions can eventually become part of our consumer mindset, we win, our ocean wins, and our planet wins. 

Instead of convincing you to buy my product, I’d rather empower you to become a mindful, informed consumer, making choices that align with your values.

Beach toy or not, I’m really happy, and so grateful, you’re here on this journey with me. For more on why I don’t want you to buy my toys, the genesis of this business, and one of the most personal interviews I’ve done, listen to the Aloha Oahu podcast, and share with a friend!