As a lifelong activist and a current leader in Philadelphia’s sustainability community, Miles Butler has dedicated most of his life toward spreading knowledge and awareness of environmental protection.
Raised in Mt. Airy, Butler lived in Massachusetts for a few years, then moved back to Philly to pursue his passion as a musician and environmentalist. In 2014, served as the manager when Pure Sweets & Company, an organic bakery and shop, opened near Rittenhouse Square. He currently serves as the operations manager for the two Philadelphia locations of United By Blue, a sustainably-driven, outdoor lifestyle apparel company combined with a coffee shop.
Through United By Blue’s initiative, Butler has helped grow a community of people who believe in sustainable living to fight against climate change and environmental damage. Along with upholding United By Blue’s mission of sustainability through community engagement, Butler continues to advocate for environmental action through his music and overall love for human connection.
How long have you worked as the operations manager of both United By Blue locations and what do you do?
I moved back to Philly about three years ago and have been at United By Blue for a little over a year.
I work the operations of the business. Mainly, I make sure they run smoothly and minimize the waste stream. We work with international distributors to get organically-sourced products at low cost and assure waste sustainability in our product consumption. I make sure both stores are operating smoothly while building a community as United By Blue grows. We have two locations here and one that is opening in New York next month.
What is your background as an activist for sustainability and environmentalism? What persuaded you to be so passionate?
I was fortunate enough to learn so much about sustainable living really from my childhood on. I remember going to so many cleanups and things with my mom and always practicing those values. From participating with the Wissahickon Valley Watershed to spending time at a Quaker School and learning all about stewardship and sustainable living, I was always taught that philanthropy.
What does United By Blue do to contribute to Philly’s sustainability community?
United By Blue’s main focus is water. We always set a goal to clean up the waterways and reduce as much waste as possible, then follow-through with exceeding that goal.
Sometimes people don’t believe that for every product sold, United By Blue removes one pound of trash from the ocean’s and waterways, Well, yeah, we are a for-profit business and we do, and we even reach over the goal we set for conservation and the amount of product reduction the company reaches. It’s truly amazing.
The store also does so many great things for the community, like seed-planting events and stream clean-ups throughout Philadelphia on Tuesdays of each month. We even had a documentary screening here in the store where we moved everything and cleared the space to set-up a projector for customers to come and watch for free. So, we’re really always doing what we can for the community.
What is the #BlueMovement on United By Blue’s website?
It’s really about creating a community to come together for one common interest—and that is to contribute to saving the planet. It’s also about educating, spreading awareness and not judging people but teaching them how they can help too.
The Blue Movement is a way for the community to connect on a level they can relate to and just really show they are doing something to help. So, it’s our marketing campaign where people can just take a picture of themselves helping at one of our stream clean-ups, or picking up a piece of trash on the street, or just contributing to cleaning up the city in any way, then hashtag “blue movement” to share it with us.
It’s all about networking and spreading the word through our community and watching it grow.
Overall, why do you think it’s so important to be a leader in the sustainability community?
Again, it relates to this bigger picture of creating a community that works together to make a difference for this greater cause. Like, I’ll wear the United By Blue shirts and people will ask me what it is, and when I explain it they are excited to learn more and want to help contribute. So, it’s really all about creating this overall community advocating for this change.
-Text and images by Alexa Zizzi and Daniel Newhart.