A love of scuba combined with a passion for protecting the environment led Walter Hobot to open Love City’s hottest new store.
Green Island Breeze has been open on the second floor of Greenleaf Commons for just over a week, but is already enjoying a steady stream of customers who share Hobot’s love of sustainable materials.
“I’m often asked about the term ‘sustainability,’” said Hobot. “In 1987, the World Commission on Environment and Development created a definition for sustainability, which reads ‘to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs.’”
When Hobot couldn’t find an appropriate souvenir during a trip to St. John, he realized there was a void that needed to be filled.
“I’ve been down to St. John many, many times as scuba diving is one of my passions,” said Hobot. “On one of my trips, I was looking to bring back some t-shirts and stuff that would be appropriate for my daughters back home in Minneapolis. But I couldn’t find anything.”
“That started me thinking maybe other people have the same problem,” Hobot said. “Also I’ve always had this passion for the environment and with the store I’ve brought the two together. I was looking to start a business on St. John and we’ll eventually move down.”
“It might not happen for a while, but we’ll get there,” said Hobot.
As a retired U.S. History and Government teacher, Hobot also brings his love of education to Green Island Breeze.
“You can take the teacher out of the classroom, but you can’t take the classroom out of the teacher,” Hobot said. “I thought I could have eco-friendly clothing at the store and educate people at the same time.”
Having researched the business of eco-friendly clothing materials, Hobot believes that the industry is at a crossroads.
“Through my research, I found that manufacturing isn’t going to put all this money in research and development of green products if it’s just talk,” said Hobot. “Public policy is changed by consumers’ purchases. They are kind of waiting to see if this green thing is just a buzz word or if people are serious about changing public policy with their buying power.”
With a full selection of clothing made from sustainable materials and high-quality cotton, Green Island Breeze can help customers take a stand with their purchases. Two-thirds of the products in the store are made from bamboo, hemp and organic cotton.
There are numerous merits to using sustainable materials over other materials which depend on pesticides and have more of an impact on the environment. As the fastest growing plant on the planet, bamboo can grow up to three feet a day, according to Hobot.
“Bamboo grows anywhere and leaves the topsoil in great shape,” said the Green Island Breeze owner. “Bamboo produces more oxygen than trees and bamboo products are softer than cotton.”
While hemp is just as soft as bamboo, it’s even more durable and has been used for centuries, Hobot added.
“George Washington’s uniform was made from hemp and so was the first flag of the United States,” said Hobot. “Hemp is probably the most durable fabric you can find and it’s cooler than cotton. It’s like a miracle fabric and I can’t believe it hasn’t caught on much sooner.”
Products made from 100 percent cotton round out Hobot’s inventory.
“Some people just like 100 percent cotton, so that is the rest of our merchandise,” he said. “But we did something a little different, we contacted a company which has been embroidering fabrics for 35 years and found out the optimal weight to have the most comfortable clothing that retains its shape.”
The optimal weight for cotton, according to Hobot, is 6.1 ounces at which weight the material is best able to hold dyes and screen printings and still maintain its shape over repeated washings.
Green Island Breeze offers a full range of t-shirts, hemp and organic cotton dresses, dharma pants, dress shirts, hats, souvenirs and more.
“We’ve kept the locals in mind and I think we have something for everyone,” said Hobot.
Stop by the shop — located on the second floor of Greenleaf Commons across from the Westin Resort and Villas — between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.