From an old horse barn on his family’s Westhampton property, Aiden Kravitz is helping to save Moriches Bay by funding the replenishment of over 10,000 oysters in the bay through sales of his sustainability oriented apparel brand Relic.
Mr. Kravitz, a 2014 graduate of Westhampton Beach High School, founded Relic in 2016 with his younger brother, Alex Kravitz. With the help of the Moriches Bay Project, a local nonprofit dedicated to improving the health of the bay, the two fund the planting of five oysters with every Relic shirt told.
The brothers, who grew up close to the bay, noticed a significant deterioration in water quality over recent years.
“I think anybody who spent some time down there can attest to the fact that it’s definitely gotten more brown,” Aiden Kravitz said.
An adult oyster, which feeds on algae, can filter almost 50 gallons of water per day. Excessive nitrogen and nutrient levels act as fuel for harmful algal blooms, which in turn deteriorate conditions for fish, clams and other species dependent on oxygen for survival in the water.
The 10,000 oysters funded by Relic since 2016 have the capacity to filter a half million gallons of water per day. By comparison, in 2017, the Moriches Bay Project, in cooperation with Cornell University’s Cooperative Extension, the Southampton Town Trustees and Brookhaven Town, placed 400,000 oysters in the bay with the capacity to filter 21.5 million gallons of water per day, according to the nonprofit’s website.
“On the East End of Long Island, the beach and the ocean are such a big part of growing up here and now,” Aiden Kravitz said.
He explained how watching fish kills, algal blooms and the deterioration of fishing quality served as his motivation: “Feeling that in our own backyard … motivated us to want to do something about it.”
With a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Brown University, Aiden Kravitz focused on the environment. With Relic, he was able to use marine chemistry knowledge he gained in the classroom to help his community.
The two brothers used an old horse barn at their family’s Westhampton home to set up a screen printing workshop in 2016. In their first year, their sales totaled $25,000, Aiden Kravitz said. He noted that it was originally his younger brother’s idea to couple the ocean-inspired designs on Relic apparel with a sustainable cause.
Relic currently sells T-shirts and sweatshirts featuring sketches of marine life — including, of course, oysters. Their shirts start at $25, and each oyster costs around 10 cents to plant, Aiden Kravitz said.
And this year, with added help from two high school friends, the brand has grown beyond just merchandise: they’re funding beach cleanup efforts.
John Fink and Tahsin Korur, both 2014 graduates of Westhampton Beach High School, joined the Relic team this year — Mr. Fink proposed the idea of working with the village this summer to install beach cleanup stations. The stations house a number of baskets — similar to hand baskets found in grocery stores — that beachgoers can take with them as they walk the beach, to collect litter and other debris.
Aiden Kravitz explained that the concept took off. “The intersection of the community, the town and a small business all for a good cause I think kind of felt good to everybody,” he said, “and so we’re able to get it up and going quickly.”
In an email, Aiden Kravitz wrote that the baskets are currently in place at Lashley Beach and Rogers Beach in the Village of Westhampton Beach. At the beaches, the basket holders have a sign directing users to Relic’s website to read more about their sustainability goals.
The four graduates are looking to expand their reach. Aiden Kravitz asks that “if anybody has information on how we can, like, take this one step further or would like to help us get this installed in their community,” they email the team at RelicArtAndDesign@gmail.com .