Salt Legacy Sails into a Sustainable Future

From Boat to Tote - Douglas Dec/Jan 2022 2023
At Salt Legacy, founder Meaghan McDonald (left) and her business partner Tisha Becker are transforming used sailcloth into new gear while keeping waste out of landfills and oceans. Photo By: Jeffrey Bosdet.

For Meaghan McDonald, the West Coast is more than a lifestyle. It’s a work style. In 2018, she impetuously bought a sailboat and called it home for three years.

A year later, following a weather-whipped hike, where at the peak her backpack packed it in, McDonald had a revelation. Her company, Salt Legacy, soon set sail.

Using castoff sails from local boat owners, the 32-year-old and her partner Tisha Becker are making tote bags and other products out of the durable material, which otherwise would be dumped in the dump. What’s unique is that each Salt collection has a story to tell.

Bouncing around on your back is weather-resistant material that may have transited Tierra del Fuego or been lashed by a Caribbean hurricane. In October, Salt released its inntial tote line and the first 120 quickly left port. Now Salt is producing backpacks, duffel bags, fanny bags and totes at its Rock Bay Square work space.

Do your products lose their waterproof/UV protections quicker, given they are made from used materials?

It depends how old the sailcloth is. We’re actually marketing our products as water-resistant. Some of our products have a lining inside made from up-cycled kiteboard kites. We’ve been doing pretty rigorous testing of these two materials over the last two years, in torrential downpours. They’ve held up extremely well. 

What inspired the multimedia speaker series you’ve posted online?

One of the first pieces of sailcloth that was donated to us was [from a vessel] called Sitka. We had the opportunity to sit down with the crew, right before they were sailing for Mexico, and their goal was to sail around the world. That’s another element of Salt Legacy.

We want to capture and tell their unique stories not just as sailors, but as nature enthusiasts. We’re calling them pillars of our company. 

Regarding your Eco Champions education program, what is the most crucial environmental issue facing us now?

I can touch on quite a few, but based on what I’ve seen on our coastline and in other places around the globe where I’ve lived and participated in cleanup events, it’s the quantity of marine debris. It really hits home how much plastics and microplastics are in our oceans.

We want to incorporate education into products. So if we can raise awareness about the piece of sailcloth that can be cut, be washed and be sewed and now it’s in a beautiful product, people can think, It could’ve gone to the landfill and now it’s a product I can carry around for multiple years.

Where do you want Salt Legacy to be in five years?

We want to see how it’s perceived on Vancouver Island, then potentially we would like to expand toward Vancouver. Our massive dream is to open chapters around the globe, around sailing communities, and create this same business model.

In order to scale, we would create these little teams and use local people, local sailors. We want to keep everything locally made and keep the connections. 

Would you sell out to a big conglomerate?

When I had the vision for Salt Legacy in 2019, it was my dream job. I’ve worked in all sectors when it comes to conservation and it combines the elements. I would absolutely not sell it.