Martin Floreani is the President and CEO of MyChelle Dermaceuticals, a company dedicated to providing clean, bioactive, ethically-sourced, and comprehensive skin care.
For the month of July, MyChelle will be donating one percent of all net proceeds to Coral Restoration Foundation™.
Read on for our interview with Martin and become inspired by his passion for using business to help support a cleaner ocean and reef!
What is your earliest memory of the ocean?
I grew up in a coastal city in Argentina called Mar del Plata where every sunrise and sunset was speckled with colorful fishing boats, surfers, windsurfers, the occasional whale, and people enjoying the beauty and majesty of the Atlantic ocean. I lived on a 12th floor apartment with a year-round panoramic view of the Atlantic. Mar del Plata has a curvy coastline laden with rock cliffs, piers made of boulders and beautiful beaches. My fondest childhood memories are exploring the coastline with a fishing pole in hand while the ocean roared and crushed against the boulders of Cabo Corrientes.
What is your favorite marine creature?
I have to hand it to the penguins. Growing up in Mar del Plata, penguins would often make their way to beaches, oftentimes in poor health and covered in oil from swimming in the harbor or near large ships. They were always much smaller than I expected for a creature that could swim such long distances and in freezing temperatures. Their stamina and perseverance is amazing. They're the little underdog that's always fighting for survival against all odds.
Have you experienced a healthy coral reef ecosystem? If so where, and how did it make you feel?
The first time I saw a coral reef system was in Cozumel, Mexico when I was fifteen. The amount of colors and life in every nook and corner was breathtaking. It was also the first time I scuba-dived.
Have you seen a badly degraded reef system? How did that make you feel?
I traveled to St. John and the US Virgin Islands a few years back and visited some of the world’s best beaches only to find their reefs overcrowded with tourists and barren of marine life. It was disappointing and sad to think that so many reefs around the world have suffered the same fate and that my kids may not ever experience the awe of seeing flourishing live reefs.
What concerns or scares you the most about climate change?
First of all, calling it climate change. Let's call it what it is...global warming. Climate change makes it seem normal or natural. Global warming is the real effect of human carelessness for the environment. People need to start caring, if not about the planet, about their kids and generations to come. Caring leads to thinking and devising real solutions to address the problem at hand. This is why I like the Coral Restoration Foundation™, because it is focused on prevention, education, and actively finding solutions that actually help rebuild coral reefs with actions that speak volumes.
Why do you, personally, care about coral reefs?
I care because the reefs are like canaries in a mine - beautiful and forewarning. The demise of the reefs is a sign to humanity of the harm we're causing on a global scale. Our consumerism and wasteful hunger for energy, commodities, comfort and convenience are polluting the planet, warming the oceans and killing off entire species at unfathomable rates.
I want my kids and theirs to inherit a cleaner planet and I want to teach them to be better stewards of the environment than prior generations. The reefs are a barometer of our effectiveness.
Why is protecting and restoring coral reefs relevant to your brand?
Since the brand’s founding in 2000, MyChelle has been a pioneer in clean, conscious and comprehensive skin care products that are bioactive, ethically sourced, and formulated with high-performance ingredients. From the beginning, MyChelle has been committed to developing sun protection that is reef-friendly, mineral-based, non-nano and antioxidant rich. MyChelle was one of the first cosmetic manufacturers to reject marine-toxic ingredients, including oxybenzone, octinoxate, butylparaben, retinyl palmitate and 4-methylbenzylidene camphor. MyChelle wants to go above and beyond creating reef-friendly sun care and align with organizations such as Coral Restoration Foundation™ whose core mission is to restore coral reefs, educate on the importance of our oceans, and use science to further coral reef research and preservation.
Why should the average person care about coral reefs?
An estimated 15% of the world’s coral reefs are impacted by toxic sunscreen chemicals including oxybenzone and octinoxate. These chemicals never biodegrade and have been shown to combine with dormant viruses in coral reefs causing irreversible and detrimental bleaching. This inhibits the growth of new coral which nearly 1 million species depend on to survive. Coral reefs cover less than 1% of the ocean floor yet they support nearly 25% of all marine life.
In your opinion, what are some of the most powerful tools at our disposal that we can apply to the mission to save coral reefs?
Coral reefs are the backbone of life in the oceans. They are a critical part of our ecosystem and could easily be gone by the end of the century. We must all continue to spread the word and help raise awareness of the current state of the world’s coral reefs. We are excited to join with Coral Restoration Foundation™ to help preserve marine life and to engage more consumers in this critical endeavor.
What do you think are some of the easiest ways that the average person can join the mission to save coral reefs from extinction?
We can all do our part each and every day by committing to using 100% mineral sun protection and avoiding sunscreens made with marine-toxic ingredients including oxybenzone and octinoxate. Also, always cover up when you can! Wear hats and long sleeved clothing to shield skin from UV rays. Using the right sunscreen is important, but our everyday choices matter too, specifically reducing, reusing and recycling. Living a vegan lifestyle and displaying compassion for all living things may just be the key to our survival.
Do you think there is hope for our coral reefs? Why?
The issue of coral conservation continues to be at the forefront and we believe the conversation will continue to grow. The mission and efforts of organizations such as Coral Restoration Foundation™ are leading the way on coral research and coral reef monitoring techniques. Also, lawmakers around the world, including Hawaii and Key West, are also supporting coral conservation by using their vote to ban the sale of sunscreen containing chemicals believed to harm coral reefs. By working together, we have the power to show the world that good ecological stewardship is everybody’s business.