June 8 is World Oceans Day every year and, as the inhabitants of a city on the water, many Bostonians get a chance to look at the ocean almost every week. Or at least we used to when we all went into the office. 

Now, the ocean may not be top of mind. News feeds are instead filled with updates about the anti-oppression movement and global health. Though both of these subjects may seem removed from the subject of oceans, they are more connected than we think. For decades African Americans and people of color were systematically pushed out of America’s beaches and racism slows the work of Black climate advocates. Further, oceans play a key role in health: helping to clean the air we breathe in and absorb the greenhouse gas emissions we are constantly releasing. These are just a few examples of how all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are inextricably linked to one another. 

Thus, this month we are highlighting SDG 14: Life Below Water in honor of World Oceans Day and humanity’s continued connection to marine systems. As the CEO of Proud Pour and former Impact Hub Boston member, Brian Thurber is working to help sustain the ocean and marine ecosystems. Proud Pour does this in a unique way…by selling wine and hard ciders that help fund the work of environmental nonprofits. 

Read on to learn more about Proud Pour’s work and where you can get a bottle of their beverages.

photo of wine bottles lined up on a wall by the seasideCan you explain Proud Pour’s value proposition for businesses and for society in your own words?

Brian: “We use high-quality, sustainable alcoholic beverages to promote and support 22 environmental nonprofits. Each of our unique beverages supports a different environmental cause through a 5% revenue giveback, five times the typical giveback company.” 

“Since Proud Pour started in 2014, supporting these nonprofits and growing our distribution has been our primary focus. Now, however, looking forward in the next 5-10 years, we are ready to take on a new ambition: to become a ‘marketing arm’ for the environment. We want to use the brand to help educate people who wouldn’t otherwise know about these environmental problems.”

“Currently, we have four different beverage lines, but we started with oysters. Our Sauvignon Blanc ‘Saves the Ocean’ by funding more than a dozen nonprofits that work to restore oyster reefs – including four in Massachusetts.”

“Not a lot of people know about the value of oysters to a marine ecosystem. Wild oyster reefs are a habitat for thousands of species, and around 90-95% of wild oyster reefs in the U.S. have been lost. Each time someone buys a bottle of our Sauvignon Blanc they help bring 100 oysters back into the ocean. Our environmental partners do this by collecting oyster shells from restaurants and planting new baby oysters on them.”

“Our other beverages and causes include a Pinot Noir that ‘Saves the Bees’ by focusing on nonprofits that restore bee habitats, a hard cider that benefits organizations that protect Sea Turtles, and our newest product, Rosé for Reefs, which supports coral reefs. 

“We’ve worked for years to build a trusted network of nonprofits and are proud of the work they do. Proud Pour is also lucky to work with several great vineyards across the country, all of which are sustainable and vegan.”

What made you join Proud Pour?

Brian: “Proud Pour’s Founder, Berlin Crystal Kelly, started Proud Pour in 2014 while learning about the history of oysters in NYC. She was interested in the production of fermented beverages and saw a project that could be a great combination of interests: protecting the environment and making good wine.”

“I met Berlin when she came up to Boston to start supporting the Massachusetts Oyster Project, one of our first partners. I’m not originally from the Boston area, but I have an environmental and nonprofit background and loved the idea of Proud Pour. I’ve been working for Proud Pour since 2015.” 

Brian Thurber, CEO of Proud Pour, and Proud Pour Founder, Berlin Crystal Kelly.

Brian Thurber, CEO of Proud Pour, and Proud Pour Founder, Berlin Crystal Kelly.

Which SDG 14 targets does your business directly work toward?

  • 14.1: By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution
  • 14.2: By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans

Any calls to action? How can our readers make your work more impactful?

Brian: “If you are a wine-lover and want to support the environment, one place to start is to buy and try out the wines. You can click here to see a map of where to buy the wines. We are also working on shipping direct-to-consumer and hope to open that this summer with carbon-offset shipping.”

“In addition, our website lists all of our partner projects. If there is an organization near you, we encourage you to reach out to them and see if you can volunteer or be of support.”

What is your second-favorite SDG and why?

Brian: “Setting aside the goals that focus on environmental protection, which I obviously think about a lot, my second favorite goal is SDG 1: No Poverty.”