Accessories Fashion

Beyond Bikinis: 7 Fashion Brands Reinventing Ocean Plastic

By Katy Caric

Here’s a shocking fact for you: by the year 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish! And most of that plastic will have been produced in a short 50-year time span from 2000 to 2050.

The fashion industry has seen an opportunity, with companies like Pharrell William’s Bionic Yarn and countless bikini brands claiming to be eco-friendly because they’re creating threads from reclaimed ocean plastic – but sadly, it turns out that’s not a viable solution at all, since with every wash, up to two grams of plastic microparticles go back into the ocean. Unless you have a special filter on your washing machine, this means that solid plastics are turned into tinier plastics, which we then end up eating and drinking. No thanks, Pharrell!

But that’s not to say all that ocean plastic can’t be useful in fashion – we just need to use it in things we don’t often wash, like running shoes and handbags instead of swimwear and active wear.

Here, I’ve rounded up some of my favourite brands helping solve the ocean pollution problem by doing just that.

1. Stella McCartney

Did you know that since 2012, all of Stella’s handbags have been lined using fabric made from recycled water bottles, and she uses recycled polyester throughout her collections whenever possible – in fact, most recently, she sent it down the runway in her Summer 2018 runway show.

Stella has also collaborated with Parley for the Oceans on several products, including the creation of a really cool limited edition backpack whose proceeds went towards ocean conservation organisation Sea Shepherd.

Currently, the polyester she uses is made from recycled plastic water bottles, which is what the vast majority of the recycled polyester around world is made from – that’s great, because it saves those bottles from likely ending up in the oceans, but it’s not enough! Stella believes that we should end plastic bottles and bags altogether, and her ultimate goal is to make fashion more circular, and use only polyester recycled from within the fashion industry by 2025.

2. Ecoalf

Winter time means bundling up! Whilst there are numerous bikini brands that create their designs from recycled ocean plastic, you’ll be happy to know that thanks to Ecoalf, your winter jacket can also help to clean up our oceans in the same way. Yep, Ecoalf uses old fishing nets, just like those bikini brands, but unlike swimwear, it’s unlikely your winter coat will spend much time in the water or wash, meaning way less micro-particle pollution. 

3. Rothy’s Shoes

Rothy’s uses post-consumer plastic water bottles to 3-D print their zero waste, comfortable flats. While they don’t use ocean pollution per se, they do help to keep plastic trash out of the ocean. As a matter of fact, as of this year, over 10,000,000 bottles have been made into flats and loafers and those could have ended up in our oceans, and to  highlight the problem of ocean plastic, Rothy’s has designed a special line of marine colours and is donating a portion of the sale to 5 Gyres, a nonprofit organisation that aims to help end plastic pollution through science, education, and adventure.

4. Adidas x Parley for the Oceans

Over a whopping 1 million pairs of shoes from the Adidas x Parley for the Oceans Collection were sold last year, and we wonder: is it because of their cool designs, created by the likes of Stella McCartney, or is it because people want to help end ocean plastic, or both? In any case, the Adidas collaboration with Parley has been so successful, that by 2024, the sports wear company plans to use the recycled plastic yarn in all of its products. Great news!

5. Clean Waves Sunglasses

A collection of limited-edition sunglasses are the first product to be launched as part of a new fundraising platform that seeks to recycle plastic from the ocean into consumer products.

The platform, called Clean Waves, has been set up by beer brand Corona and marine organisation Parley for the Oceans, which has previously created footwear and swimwear made from ocean plastic in collaboration with Adidas.

The Clean Waves project is aimed at boosting the use of eco innovative materials in fashion and industrial design.

The first Clean Waves product to be launched is a pair of sunglasses made in Italy from the plastic that Parley for the Oceans and Corona harvest from the oceans and beaches they protect.

The organisations said that the eyewear incorporates low-quality types of plastic waste such as polypropylene, as well as “new forms of upcycled marine debris”, which have been intercepted on islands, coastal communities, beaches, underwater and on the high seas.

6. Nurdle in the Rough Jewellery

Don’t you just love it when jewellery has a story? Each piece made by Nurdle in the Rough comes from ocean plastic – and they’ll show you exactly what type of rubbish was upcycled on their site. Whether it’s a detergent bottle made into coral-inspired earrings, a bin transformed into a ring, or plastic bottles morphing into seashell-inspired pendants, you can rest assured that each piece is super-eco-friendly, since only recycled silver is used to framework the ocean plastic bits.

7. Awake Watches

Awake is a French watchmaker that’s just released its first sustainable watch series to the market. Its goal in creating this collection was to greatly reduce plastic waste, from the manufacturing process and packaging to rescuing ocean plastic to recycle into watch straps. In fact, almost all the components in this watch range are made from recycled and recyclable materials!

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