At least 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year, making up 80 percent of all marine debris from surface waters to deep-sea sediments, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In Greece, marine plastic pollution, which goes far beyond what one sees on the surface, is one of the most heart wrenching things to come across, especially in a country so beautiful.
Two Greek-Americans with a passion for making the earth a better place have joined forces to spread awareness of the dangers of single-use beverage plastics, and offer an alternative they call “Cafe for a Cause.”
It all started a few years ago when Kristina Headrick could not help but notice trash tumbling around on a Greek island she visited while on vacation. “It broke my heart,” she said. When summer kicks in and tourism blossoms, it may be great for the economy, but an influx in visitors takes a toll on the surrounding environment, especially in cases where sufficient infrastructure does not exist, and correct action is not taken.
“Freddo espressos are served by the droves in single-use plastic cups, trash blows off of ferries, and our seas are polluted,” Headrick said. “Millions of tourists leave Greece each year unaware that their eco-footprint outstays their vacation…I want to be a responsible diaspora Greek, if you will, and give back to the land and culture that has given me my raison d’etre,” she said.
According to Plastic Oceans, a California-based non-profit organization, over 380 million tons of plastic are produced every year. Plastic Oceans references reports that estimate that some 50% of this amount makes up single-use plastics.
The Cafè for a Cause initiative combines educational posts and a fun, reusable cup aimed at curbing waste and decreasing single-use plastics. Together with Headrick, Tony Kariotis hopes to make it easy for supporters to switch to a reusable cup for coffee time. “I love giving back in any way I can…if we can just make a small difference in Greece by doing this, that will make me happy,” Kariotis said.
The reusable cups are available on yia-mas.com/shop/cafeforacausecup for pre-order for the month of June, and come in three variations: “Freddo,” “Metrio,” and “Glyko.”All proceeds from cup sales will support the efforts of Aegean Rebreath.
Initially established in 2017 by a small group of concerned citizens who got together to respond to the urgent need to clean the seabed and to promote the protection of Aegean biodiversity, Aegean Rebreath has since completed almost 50 underwater and coastal cleanup actions. That is, they have removed 14.8 tons of ghost nets, almost 850 tires, and nearly 65,000 pieces of plastic from Greek waters and shores.
“I love Greece so much,” Headrick said. “The earthiness of Greece, coupled with the healing and cleansing sea inspired so much of my mission, so, we must protect it.”
About the founders:
Kristina Maria Headrick is the founder of Yia Mas, a workshop series and lifestyle brand that synthesizes her Greek upbringing and ongoing research of Hellenic dance, philosophies, herbal remedies, and culture. Kristina is passionate about inspiring wellness through well-researched, creative content and experiences. Yia Mas is heavily influenced by Kristina’s ongoing research and certifications, including a 200-hour yoga teacher training, 100-hour meditation teacher training with Nalanda Institute of Contemplative Science, 75-hour training with Katonah Yoga, and the mentorship program at Sky Ting Yoga in NYC.
With a background in copywriting and digital marketing, her work bridges the gap between our increasingly digital realities and tactile experiences. She balances digital work with teaching movement and meditation, and teaches in studios and corporate settings in NYC, Athens, and on retreats in Greece. Her copywriting and wellness clients include such well-known companies as Noom and Korres. She holds a degree in history from the University of Virginia.
Tony Kariotis is the founder of Greece Media, known as @greece on Instagram, which markets Greek travel to the world with a variety of means, from film documentaries, travel photography, travel experiences, on-demand excursion bookings, and a podcast that features some of the most inspiring Greeks around the world.
Tony is also a Greece content creator that spends 4 months a year traveling around Greece, promoting everything the island has to offer, all while live streaming, on his social media page: @iamgreece. He is also the host of the Greece Chats with Tony Kariotis Podcast.
Aside from his Greece venture’s Tony is also the director of the Teddy K Classic Foundation, which raises funds for Greek-American students heading to university in the United States and charities in Greece through the Teddy K Classic Basketball Tournament. Since its inception in 2009 the Teddy K Classic has become the largest Greek-American basketball tournament in the world. Lastly, Tony is a real estate investor in the Greater Boston area.