Name: Aneliya Zhanalinova
Company: Manatee Bags
Where you’re from and currently reside?
Manatee Bags were born and first packed in Phoenix, Arizona, but currently reside in San Francisco.
Items sold in LMC gift store:
How did you become inspired to create your manatee bags?
Having started practicing a zero waste lifestyles years ago, the produce bags my husband and I craved were simply not on the market yet. I had to design and sew the first ones myself. The manatee has always been our family mascot, so we created a brand that at its core had one simple mission — do good to manatees, which inevitably is doing all-around good.
We know how plastic bags affect sea turtles. How do plastic bags from general grocery stores impact marine life such as manatees?
Plastic has its detrimental effects on all marine wildlife, but manatees in particular. They live on the ocean coastline and in the rivers — always in the proximity of humans and our byproduct of plastic waste. They are grazing herbivores and spend most of their time in shallow waters, expectedly, plastic is compromising their right for safe environment. Oceana reviewed nearly 1,800 documented cases of plastic consumption and entanglement among marine animals in U.S. waters from 2009 to early 2020 and discovered that manatees, along with turtles, were disproportionately represented. Turtles comprised 48% of all cases, while manatees comprised 39%. Oftentimes, manatees ingest plastic bags, mistaking them for algae.
What other initiatives has your organization taken on to clean our landfills and plastic waste?
The most long-standing and significant relationship we have is supporting Natural Restorations in their successful efforts to clean Arizona’s wildlife.
What’s the key ingredient in leading a sustainable business?
Being honest with yourself and not settling with compromises. It is important to know first-hand, to understand your supply chain, and the life-cycle of your product.
What’s your proudest business accomplishment to date?
We were invited to Farmer's Markets to have our pop-up shops on Earth Day, which we managed to set up 100% zero waste. But it’s when we met our customers face-to-face who came driving all the way from neighboring cities just to purchase our product is what made us feel accomplished as a business.