Thursday, December 17th, 2015

RAW FOR THE OCEANS:
SPINNING PLASTIC POLLUTION INTO FASHION

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Did you know that it’s possible to take plastic waste and turn it into denim? Yeah, me neither! I mean, it is 2015 and we do have watches that tell us when to wake up, when to eat and how many steps to take if we want to burn off that double cheeseburger, shake and large fries that we ate for lunch before we go on a hot date with a person we also met on said watch via an app that was designed to supplant physical, social interaction.

I digress… So, I guess it makes sense that we can collect trash, create Bionic yarn with it and turn it into fashion with a purpose. When I say Bionic, I mean an eco-friendly brand that spins waste into usable yarn. Not, like, robotic yarn that can cook you dinner. Again, I digress.

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So, here’s how it works… Parley for the Oceans, a company committed to cleaning up the sea, licenses out companies to help collect said plastic from the shorelines. They then distribute this waste to various companies, one of them being G-Star RAW for the Oceans Denim company. The plastic collected is then spun, spurred and skee-daddled into Bionic’s infamous yarn and SHA-BLAM… denim. Okay, yes, it is a bit more complicated than that.

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Because there is a strict policy about which bottles can actually be repurposed in a safe manner, not all bottles are chosen. The ones that can be repurposed are cleaned, chopped into tiny pieces, heated up and pulled apart. This creates fibers, which are then spun into yarn. This is a very similar process to SWAP Socks, however our yarn is spun with North Carolina cotton. The core of the yarn is recycled plastic that acts as filler. It is then wrapped with cotton to give you that denim feeling, but needless to say, these jeans have a bit more “umph” about them, considering they are around 50% plastic. The first collection was produced using 10 tons of recycled PET bottles. That’s about 700,000 bottles.

"“I love the ocean. It’s always been an inspiration to me. How it works, its depth, what it emotes, its relations to the moon, its cycles, and the inhabitants of the ocean. You can never know enough. There is so much down there and in there; it’s a huge inspiration to me.”"
- Pharrell Williams
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To top it off, do you want to know whom the face of this amazing, sustainably responsible, and fashionable campaign is? PHARRELL. Could it get any better? I wonder if that big hat he wears is made of Bionic yarn?

Want to learn more about the process that goes into turning plastic trash into a dope pair of jeans? Watch this short video: Pharrell Williams & G Star RAW / Raw for the Oceans from Part of a Bigger Plan on Vimeo.

"We need to defend diversity on land and in the sea and we need solutions, and these solutions can only be realized by harnessing the imaginative side of human culture – the arts."
- Captain Paul Watson

Pharrell and all the European boys who love G-Star are now wearing that Aquafina bottle that you forgot at the park that then fell into the Hudson River and subsequently floated out into the abyss. Probably to Indonesia where shoreline waste per kilometer is the highest in the world. This sort of fashion with a purpose is what inspires us at SWAP Socks. It is possible. You can look good and do good at the same time.

- MJ

Check out "The Plastic Age" - A Documentary feat. Pharrell Williams (Official Trailer) from Bionic Yarn on Vimeo.

Cole Page

About the Author: Cole Page is co-founder and CTO at SWAP Socks. He is pretty bad at writing blog posts, but decent at designing them.