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A Discussion with Peter Lowes About Environmental Advocacy

Peter Lowes was born with an entrepreneurial spirit in a small town in Scotland. At a young age, he moved to the north of England, where he attended grammar school and college. Later on in life, Peter honed his skills in the restaurant industry and various other businesses and studied to become a Chartered Accountant. […]

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Peter Lowes
Peter Lowes

Peter Lowes was born with an entrepreneurial spirit in a small town in Scotland. At a young age, he moved to the north of England, where he attended grammar school and college. Later on in life, Peter honed his skills in the restaurant industry and various other businesses and studied to become a Chartered Accountant.

In 1982, driven to pursue adventure and discover new opportunities, Peter embarked on a year-long journey aboard a 65-foot sailboat. After his ocean voyage, he arrived in Long Beach, California, where he began working in the investment real estate field. With a strong work ethic, integrity, and a passion for his work, he built a successful career at Preferred Real Estate Investments.

In 1994, Peter relocated to Bend, Oregon where he currently resides. In 1997, he founded Compass Commercial Real Estate Services with three partners. While growing this successful business, he continuously sought other opportunities to fuel his entrepreneurial passion. 

In 2007, Peter founded the Lowes Group, a full-service residential, commercial and property management real estate company. In the second half of 2007, and with the help of local restaurateur Marcos Rodriguez, Peter founded the first Hola! Nouveau Mexican Peruvian restaurants. Since then, Peter and Marcos have opened six Hola! locations in total. 

Building on the growth and success of their Hola! brand, Peter and Marcos joined forces with colleagues Jose Balcazar and Tony Levison, and in 2014 and introduced their take on the Northwest brewing trend with Tranquilo Mexican Style Ale. In 2015, Tranquilo was awarded a silver medal at the North American Brewers Association for best-tasting beer.

Also in 2015, Peter along with several partners founded Tokyo Starfish, a leading cannabis dispensary company in Oregon. Tokyo Starfish was recently awarded by Source Magazine as the best dispensary in Central Oregon for 2020. Currently, Peter and his partners are preparing to launch their fifth Tokyo Starfish location in Oregon, and have plans for further expansion in the future. 

Since his year-long ocean voyage in the 1980s during which he witnessed a vast amount of ocean pollution, Peter has been an advocate for better environmental protection. In 2019 after consulting with friends, educators, and government officials, he launched TEA: a non-profit foundation that provides scholarships to students who are pursuing education in environmental studies and sciences, and also provides support to various environmentally conscious groups and causes. The organization’s name, TEA, stands for “Teaching Environmental Awareness.” It is also a reference to Peter’s British heritage, as tea beloved in England (in addition to being the most widely-consumed beverage worldwide). Tea is also closely associated with a sense of community and calm.  

How did you first get your start in environmental awareness advocacy?

At the age of seven, I joined the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Even at such a young age, I had the awareness that animals need our help. This understanding developed over the years and raised my desire to help protect the environment that animals live in.

How do you define environmental advocacy?

I define environmental advocacy as being concerned and passionate about protecting our natural world, which includes our oceans, lands, air, and wildlife. All of these are vital to our shared existence and prosperity on this planet. 

What led to the decision to found Teaching Environmental Awareness?

Protecting the environment has been a concern of mine since I was a child. In 1982, I embarked on a year-long ocean journey and came across a distressing amount of ocean pollution. Developing a foundation to make a positive difference had always been in my mind, and then in 2019 when I had the time, resources, and network in place, I put the wheels in motion and launched TEA.

What could our readers do to lower their environmental impact?

There are many simple, practical, and highly effective things that your readers can do each day to lower their environmental impact. For example, they can reduce their meat consumption. They can use alternatives to plastics; especially single-use plastics like disposable water bottles. They can walk and bike more and drive less, and simply become more aware of their overall environmental footprint. The web is an excellent resource for learning how small changes to daily habits can have an enormous impact on the environment. 

In your opinion, what are the greatest challenges facing the environment?

There are many challenges that we are facing. However, I would say the greatest obstacle is getting people to understand that we are in a crisis. I believe that some people think that the problem will somehow solve itself, or that it is being exaggerated. Neither of these are true. The problem is extremely real and serious, and it will only worsen unless we collectively do something about it.  

What trends in the environmental activism world are you currently most excited by?

Although the challenges are significant, there are several trends that are positive and encouraging. Firstly, a growing number of people are switching — entirely or at least somewhat — to a plant-based diet. This lowers water and land use, reduces pollution, slows deforestation, reduces the destruction of topsoil, and reduces methane in the atmosphere. Secondly, more and more younger people are becoming environmentally aware and getting involved This is really exciting and gives me hope that our planet will heal. Thirdly, and also very exciting, is the introduction and growth of many environmental advocacy groups that focus on everything from protecting sea turtles, bees, and whales, to raising awareness of melting ice caps or the pollution in our oceans.  

Where do you see your foundation, Teaching Environmental Awareness, being in 5 years?

My hope is TEA can travel across the United States and abroad, and influence even more people on a global scale.

What’s next for Peter Lowes and TEA?

We continue to educate people from all walks of life, and across all cultures. Our core message is that even small changes in daily life can make a big positive difference for our planet, and our future. However, we cannot delay. The time to act is right now. 

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