Written for The Argo by Catherine Parmenter
A well-spoken and approachable person, Sean Lavender always greets people with a warm smile on his face. He is finishing out his senior year at Stockton University as an Environmental Science and Sustainability major. In his spare time, Lavender is often seen on the beach, barefoot with a blue bucket in hand, sporting boardshorts and a t-shirt with the words “Love Blue” written across his chest. The 21-year-old has been an environmental enthusiast since the third grade. In the summer of 2019, he became the co-founder and Vice President of Love Blue Incorporated, a local beach non-profit known for hosting beach clean ups.
“The Earth provides for us,” says Lavender. “Taking my bounty from the Earth has made me want to give back to the Earth.”
Born and raised in New Jersey, Lavender has enjoyed all that the Garden State has to offer, from the waves to the woods. He finds pleasure in surfing, hunting, fishing, and spending his summers at the shore in Cape May County. His infatuation with the outdoors quickly evolved into a passion for environmental protection. As his love for wildlife grew, so did his concerns about the damage being done to the Earth. Trash is polluting beaches everywhere and ending up in the ocean, posing a threat to marine life. Lavender decided to address the epidemic head on.
In the Summer of 2019, Lavender’s best friend AJ Caruso came to him with the idea of launching beach cleanups. The next day Caruso, Lavender and their friend Jordan Pinette started working to make their dreams a reality. They rounded up some of their friends in Wildwood Crest and hosted the first of many beach clean ups.
“Sean has been my right-hand man,” Caruso says about his business partner and best friend. “He’s the best VP I could ask for.”
After a successful first summer, Lavender and Caruso decided to bring the spirit of Love Blue with them to their universities. In the Fall of 2019, Lavender hosted the first beach clean-up at Stockton’s Atlantic City campus. Since then, Lavender has brought together clubs, athletic teams, Greek organizations and even students from Rowan University to join the beach sweeps. Since the fall of 2019, Stockton student volunteers have collected approximately 1,000 pounds of trash each semester.
In March 2021, Lavender officially started a Love Blue Chapter at Stockton, before he graduates this spring. Stockton students can now join the Love Blue via the Osprey Hub in their GoStockton Portal. Lavender identifies himself as a huge thinker. He envisions that the Stockton Love Blue Chapter will become the biggest student organization on campus.
As graduation approaches, Lavender looks forward to expanding his horizons. He explains that he has two dream jobs, the first being more realistic- to have a 9-5 job as a wildlife conservation officer while continuing his work as Vice President of Love Blue. His second dream job is, in his own words, “strictly entrepreneurial.” He hopes that he can continue to grow Love Blue and pursue it as a career.
“I am super self-motivated, and I’ve always wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself.” says Lavender. “In the future I’ll see more Love Blue clubs across the country at schools and universities, more business in the Seal of Support, more repurposing of trash, and more educational outreach.”
In addition to running Love Blue, Lavender also has his own boat cleaning business. In spring of 2019, Lavender was tagging along and lending a hand while his friend Pinette was cleaning boats for clients in Longport, N.J. He returned home that day inspired, and quickly realized that he too could make a profit cleaning boats in Wildwood Crest, N.J. He approached his older brother Tyler with his ideas and shortly thereafter, Lavender Boat Cleaning was established in March of 2019.
Prior to assisting his friend for the day in Longport, N.J., Lavender knew little about boat cleaning. Now his expertise in this industry allows Lavender Boat Cleaning to be subcontracted by Schooner Island Marina and North Wildwood Marina. Lavender hopes to clean boats full time this summer.
Apart from boat cleaning, Lavender has occupied himself with quite a few other jobs over the years. He has worked at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House since 2014, starting out as a busboy and working his way up to being a server. He has also worked at Beach Creek Restaurant where he barbacks and bar tends.
Lavender’s internships include working as a field technician for state and land projects, and checking blueberry farmers’ crops to inform them of insects on the crops, and the best time to spray pesticides and herbicides, which was a part of the Rutgers Fruit Integrated Pest Management project.
Lavender works out around 5 days a week. He recently began practicing Jujutsu. He likes to be well rounded and also has an interest in learning self-defense.
“Most people fear doing something,” says Lavender. “I fear doing nothing.”