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- There are all sorts of brands using recycled ocean plastics like derelict fishing nets and plastic water bottles to make cool and useful products.
- Below is a roundup of our favorite brands making some of our favorite products out of what are decidedly some of our least favorite things – plastics that pollute our oceans.
- You’ll find jackets from Patagonia, hand soap from Method, leggings from Girlfriend Collective, and more.
- An honorable mention goes to Rothy’s, which makes its women’s work flats out of recycled plastic water bottles before they make it into our oceans.
From sunglasses to skateboards, the array of products being made from recycled ocean plastics is growing so rapidly it’s dizzying.
No, really: Since I began putting this article together the other day, at least three such products have landed on my desk, and my inbox has probably seen twice as many emails alerting me to this brand or that now using recycled ocean plastics in some way.
If you’re having trouble figuring out which brands to support in these endeavors, the short answer is: all of them. (Unless they’re selling absolute junk that’ll likely end up back in the ocean anyway, or shamelessly hawking snake oil.)
It’s impossible to fathom how much plastic is really in the ocean. Though the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the World Economic Forum make claims suggesting that by 2050 there may be more plastic than fish in the sea, we can’t exactly count all the fish in the sea. What we can roughly gather is how much plastic we continue to produce, which, according to a report by PlasticsEurope, totaled about 384 million tons in 2018 alone (up from about 369 million tons in 2017).
The good news is that, with all that plastic afloat in the ocean, we can probably stop making the stuff, especially thanks to companies like Bureo (in conjunction with Costa Del Mar sunglasses) and BIONIC Yarn. These stewardly brands, along with many others below, are working to collect and manufacture products from the mounting number of plastics already in our waterways, rather than make more, which we think is not only more sustainable but, simply put, smart.
Yes, we at Insider Picks are also mesmerized and bewildered by the sea of these recycled products, and I, personally, have spent too many hours to count sifting through them to deliver you all of the best in reclaimed ocean plastics, but here’s a short list for starters, and you can be sure to see it grow to a lengthy one in the not-so-distant future.
Read on for a list of nine brands making great products with recycled ocean plastics.
Shop Patagonia’s Stretch Rainshadow Jackets, made with ECONYL®, available at Patagonia, starting at $119
It’s hard not to start this list with Patagonia. It was the first outdoors retail brand to start manufacturing fleece with recycled plastic bottles in 1993, and they’ve continued to be a leader of the movement throughout the decades since.
Lately, the brand has been experimenting with using discarded fishing nets in their products, and is currently making the new Stretch Rainshadow Jackets using Econyl, 100% recycled nylon yarns which include, at least in part, discarded fishing nets. Going forward, as always, you can be sure to see more of this from Patagonia.
Patagonia also contributes to 1% for the Planet.
B Corporation Bureo was founded by Ben Kneppers and Kevin Ahearn in 2013 to elicit positive solutions to the environmental crises our oceans face.
Using derelict and retired fishing nets recovered from the Chilean coast, Bureo makes everything from sunglasses (in partnership with Costa) to skateboards and Jenga sets. I’ve been wearing their sunglasses fishing for the past six months and not only do they make me look pretty(ish), they seem almost indestructible (editor’s note: Owen needs indestructible). Fitted with high-tech Costa lenses, they’re a handy item on and off the water.
Andrew Cooper and Alex Shulze were on a surf trip in Bali when they witnessed fishermen launching their vessels into what resembled trash more than sea. Fast-forward about two years and the duo has built a team, branded as 4ocean, that has removed over four million pounds of trash from the ocean and its coastlines.
The company makes bracelets out of the trash they collect, and for each sale, they pledge to pull one pound of plastic from our oceans and coastlines. They also make plastic-free reusable water bottles, for which it makes the same pledge.
A while back, Adidas teamed up with Parley for the Oceans to design a sneaker made with yarn produced, at least in part, from recycled ocean plastics. They could do more, but with something like 41% of the Parley x Adidas line coming from reclaimed plastics, they’re not half bad. The brand also says it aims to be using 100% recycled polyester (which makes up about half of all of their products) by 2024.
United By Blue
- United By Blue
United By Blue has been hard at work producing some of the most ethically sourced clothing and apparel on the market, plucking a pound of trash for each item sold along the way. To date, the brand has helped removed over 1.5 million pounds of trash from our oceans and coastlines through organized cleanup efforts open to all.
From UBB’s signature board shorts, which call for about 11 plastic bottles per pair, to the Summit totes and the Albright Rain Shells, it’s hard not to wonder what they’ll come up with next. Whatever it is, we’re looking forward to it.
Non-toxic, paraben-free, biodegradable two-in-one dish and hand soap is a novelty none of us can afford to pass up. What’s even cooler is that Method’s ocean plastic line of soap comes in a bottle that they claim to be the first of its kind. Whether or not they’re exactly the first to make a bottle from recycled ocean plastic is hard to say, but they’re doing it, and that’s something we can get behind.
- Captain Blankenship/Facebook
Captain Blankenship is a relatively new brand that’s respectfully taken the wellness and beauty world by storm. Their Mermaid Dry Shampoo (which has a faint yet irresistible ginger aroma), and Sea Salt Hair Spray are about all I need to get me through summer at the beach. The formulas are sulfate-, paraben-, and preservative-free, and the packaging is made from recycled ocean plastic. Like many of the other corporations on our list, Captain Blankenship also contributes to 1% for the Planet.
The brainchild of veteran world surfing champion Kelly Slater and inveterate Los Angeles-based designer (and surfer) John Moore, Outerknown is a push against decades of dubiously manufactured and emblazoned swim- and surf-wear. It’s a simplistic and responsibly made line of women’s and men’s styles that are designed to last. It is also, I can attest, quite comfortable and flattering.
The Evolution line, which is made using recovered fishing nets and other ocean plastics, mostly consists of swimwear and jackets for now, but stay tuned: Slater and Moore are just getting started.
- Girlfriend Collective
A relatively green (but growing) athleisure company, Girlfriend Collective makes clothing from recycled materials that include plastic bottles recovered from the sea. Their original leggings (through which they became famous with a giveaway during their debut), are made from 25 recycled water bottles each. That is pretty cool.
And, the brand’s new LITE collection comes from recycled fishing nets. Sure, it’s becoming a trend, but being that abandoned fishing nets are among the worst scourge of the sea (save for maybe cruise and cargo ships), is that really such a bad thing?
- Owen Burke/Business Insider
Sperry, in collaboration with BIONIC Yarn, has released its BIONIC line, made from plastic polymers which BIONIC Yarn manufactures from ocean plastics.
Sperry, the ever-tried-and-true boat shoe, is now sustainable, and might we add, fun? We say it’s about time for both, Sperry, and this is one of our favorite boating shoe lines this summer.
- OluKai on Instagram
Founded in 2005 in Hawaii, OluKai is a long-time supporter of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and, within it, the Hawaii-based Polynesian voyaging canoe, the Hokulea, which collected samples of ocean plastics on its crossing of the Pacific (home to the world’s largest garbage patch) on its return from a circumnavigation.
Shopping with OluKai, as it stands now, won’t necessarily mean purchasing recycled ocean plastics, but it pays into the research of the colossal mess our oceans face, which is just as important going forward.