How a 1935 car accident led to less plastic in your shower.

How a 1935 car accident led to less plastic in your shower.

You know that scene in Jurassic Park, where Jeff Goldblum explains the theory that the flap of a butterfly’s wing in China can cause a change in the weather on the other side of the word?

This is our own story of ripple effects, and at the end, you’ll find out how you’re a part of it.

HiBAR would not be quite what it is today if there had not been a car accident in France’s Vosges Mountains in 1935. On that summer evening, an aspiring navy pilot was speeding around the hairpin turns on his way to a friend’s wedding when his headlights suddenly failed. Young Jacques Cousteau did not remember anything of the crash, but as he recovered in hospital, it became clear that his shattered body would never be up to the rigors of flight.

And so Cousteau, who was born on this day 111 years ago, looked for another way to experience freedom, weightlessness and adventure.

As you know, he turned to the ocean, becoming a pioneer in exploring, sharing – and caring for -  the strange, other world beneath the surface.

When I was a boy, I was absolutely rapt in Cousteau’s documentaries. I devoured books by another scuba-diving pioneer named Hans Hass. And of course, like every Australian, I grew up on a steady diet of Ron and Valerie Taylor.

I would snorkel in the cool clear waters of my local river, chasing down catfish and eels and turtles, longing for the day I could finally hover through a coral reef. On weekends, I would coerce my mother into driving me to every aquarium store in town. It seemed highly likely that I would become a marine biologist.

Years later, my wife and I would become certified divers, visiting some of the most gorgeous places on the planet – up and down the Great Barrier Reef, Belize, Hawaii. Diving and snorkeling with sharks and manta rays, blennies and clownfish. Feeling the cool, calming embrace of the water’s pressure. Hearing the snap crackle pop of life.

At no point did I ever feel anything but the utter immensity and power of the ocean. Greater than all of us. Greater than time. Its fearsomeness a part of its allure.

But I underestimated the collective impact of our species’ actions. Coral bleaching began to threaten reef systems around the world. Overfishing overturned entire ecosystems. And plastic… well, plastic.

On a family trip to Mexico, I met the final straw, so to speak.

A beach strewn in plastic flotsam, blown in from who knows where, piling up on what should have been a pristine turtle hatchery.

That confrontation shook me from my privileged daydream, and started me down the path of wondering what I could do to lessen my own impact. Which in turn led me to meet some friends who were having similar realizations, which led to the creation of what we felt it would take to inspire people away from plastic: a salon-quality shampoo bar we named HiBAR.

Every person who works at HiBAR will have their own through-line story of ripple effects, of how events and realizations in their own lives have led them to making shampoo bars and conditioner bars. For some, it’s a passion. For others, it’s a job with meaning. But for everyone, it matters, what we’re doing.

Now it's true that shower products are seemingly insignificant, when compared to the oceans we’re trying to save. That’s what ripples are though: small.

So as you use your HiBAR, think about the long, strange journey that has led to that moment. That the journey is in your hands now, and it’s only just begun.

May we all live a life of exploration and wonder and love. Bon anniversaire, Jacques Cousteau.

Image by @Steve3p_0 on Unsplash

About the author:
Dion Hughes is a co-founder of HiBAR. He despises plastic more than the average person, but believes that human beings are clever and well-meaning, and entirely capable of solving big problems.

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