Who are you, what do you do, and where are you from?
My name is Dan Hassett, I'm from Marshfield MA. I'm 35 years old and live with my wife Jess and our 3 kids and a 4th on the way, our dog, cat, and chickens. I love to surf and travel, nature, the outdoors, and people. My company Levitate strives to build community through the arts, youth, and conservation. Currently we have an apparel line, live events, and kids programs/camps through which we hope to positively influence the future.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Everything we do as individuals and as businesses has an impact on the natural world we live in. Humans have become so dominant as a species and easily forget that we're part of a greater ecosystem, and the world is not solely for our use and exploitation. We're an incredibly intelligent species that, for the most part, has dominated other species and the landscape to make it work for us, but we're not quite smart enough as a whole to realize that if we continue on this path we will trip over our own progress. To me, sustainability is being mindful of these facts and acting in ways that have a neutral effect or improving effect on the ecosystems around us.
What inspired you to make sustainability such a big part of Levitate?
My wife Jess and I have children that will live on this earth long after we are gone, and I feel horrible that we're leaving them scraps of an ecosystem and a polluted planet. I was taught to respect my elders but I have near zero respect for many of the 'leaders' in our country who are looking the other way on environmental issues and are instead focusing on transferring wealth from young to old people, which is happening at an equally alarming rate as the environment is being degraded. Young people are being fleeced and they need to speak up and take action. I suppose that's why we make sustainability a part of Levitate, because Levitate is the tool that we have to have an impact. Our broad mission is to build community but it's impossible to not care about sustainability and conservation if you want to have a healthy community.
What impact can artists and business owners have on sustainability?
The easiest thing for artists or business owners also has the biggest impact: educate young people around you and lead by example. Let them know their small actions matter and do all the small things yourself - recycling rather then putting everything in the landfill, picking up trash, educating young people and staff that everything goes into the ocean eventually, share with young people the beauty of nature, use your own coffee mug, avoiding single-serve packaging and food, eat foods that are grown in sustainable ways, spend your dollars on companies and products that care about sustainability so they grow larger with more influence, conserve water, grow or catch some of your own food, the list goes on and on. These things will help our planet balance its trajectory and make individuals feel connected to the natural world around us and thus, feel happy.
While Levitate is certainly not perfect in our efforts to be more sustainable, as a company we've been successful in most of the above. We've educated thousands of young people per year through our camps and programs, and have been fortunate enough to start working on some broader concepts such as using sustainable materials in our apparel, spending time to shorten our supply chains across our apparel, food, and beverage programs, started composting, switched almost all single serve items to biodegradable, and have quietly been working to launch the Levitate Foundation through which we can have a greater impact in the years to come.