Brands convert ocean waste into eco-friendly apparel
It’s projected that the earth’s oceans could contain more plastic than fish by 2050, but innovators in the fashion industry (one of the world’s worst offenders when it comes to pollution) are making efforts to reduce that risk. 87% of youth believe that supporting socially conscious brands can make the world a better place, and these ones are helping do so by upcycling water-bound waste into clothing and accessories.
Each month, Parley for the Oceans collects 80-120 tons of ocean waste like fishing nets, debris and plastic bottles that, once cleaned and processed, are turned into fabric or yarn to replace wool and recycled polyester. Adidas has partnered with the marine conversation company on sustainable shoes, and Stella McCartney is following suit with a long-term project dubbed Ocean Legends. Through this initiative, which is being celebrated as a turning point for the fashion industry, the designer will use Parley for the Ocean’s materials for its clothing, bags, and shoes.
Surf culture is central to the ethos of California-based sportswear brand Volcom, so it’s only fitting that the company wants to protect the ocean. In an effort to do so, the brand has released a line of swimwear called Simply Solid that’s made from recycled fishing nets and other discarded nylon found in the sea. Volcom partnered with fabric company Aquafil, which works with independent fish farmers and the nonprofit Healthy Seas Initiative to recover fishing nets from the water. Aquafil then transforms the waste into a soft rayon and spandex-like material that’s both lightweight and breathable for swimming.
After spending years working on an Alaskan fishing boat and witnessing the industry’s excess, 25-year-old Craig Kasberg was inspired to put byproducts from the waters to good use. He founded the company Tidal Vision, which makes apparel, accessories, and other items out of discarded materials from the ocean, such as salmon skin and crab shells. To launch the brand, Kasberg negotiated with seafood processors to buy their scraps, turn the raw materials into products like wallets, and then fund them on Kickstarter. Tidal Vision also sells sheets of fabric to fashion designers.