spoiler: it isn’t swimsuits or yoga pants
***virtue + vice has no affiliation with the companies mentioned in this article- we just think what they are doing is cool! Photo cred
One of the hottest topics in sustainability right now is - what are we going to do with all the single-use plastic we have created? Even if we stopped all plastic use tomorrow, there would still be tons sitting in our oceans and landfills.
Currently, there are 29 companies on Kickstarter launching businesses promoting recycled plastic bottle fabric. The market is saturated, and swimsuits and yoga wear made of recycled ocean waste just aren't newsworthy anymore. And that is an AMAZING THING!
From Speedo to Billabong to your neighbor's kid on Kickstarter, EVERYONE is using recycled polyester. The mass adoption of recycled fabrics means that there is a market for sustainable products, and consumers are beginning to demand products with a lower environmental footprint.
below are 3 new and innovative ways companies are recycling plastic
Rothy’s uses recycled plastic to create yarns that are then knit directly onto shoe soles to create classic ballet flats. What is interesting about Rothy’s is that they use 3-D knitting.
Typically in production for clothing, and yes, even shoes, the fabric is laid flat and cut into pieces to be sewn together. This means that all of the fabric in between is wasted. There are people out there like Zero Waste Daniel and The Squirrelz, who are collecting and creating things with the leftover fabric by upcycling. But, at the end of the day, this process of manufacturing still creates a lot of waste.
But, by using 3-D knitting technology that knits onto the shoe form, nothing is wasted and only what is needed to create a pair of shoes is used. #wastenotwantnot
Aaron Westbrook started Form5 in high school after spending $40,000 on a poor fitting prosthetic piece. His goal was to create affordable prosthetic pieces made from recycled materials. From5 uses recycled iced coffee cups to create 3D printed prosthetics.
Aaron focuses on task-specific pieces. One piece he created was specifically designed so a child could learn to play the cello.
Or, let’s change the way we make and use plastic
This way, there is less that needs to be recycled. Although it is better to recycle than not to, recycling still uses a staggering amount of resources and energy. Recycling isn't a cure-all solution, it is more like a temporary band-aid.
plastic that dissolves in water
Plastics that dissolve in water aren’t a new idea. The University of Mississippi was working on this type of material 10 years ago!
They created a plastic that would dissolve in salt water in 20 days.
But, for whatever reasons - costs, funding, the practicality of the technology - we haven’t seen much since then until Kevin Kumala of Indonesia wowed us by drinking a plastic bag.
Plastic that you could break down at home is genius. Kumala’s plastic bags are made from 100% cassava starch. They can withstand rain, but once they are submerged in lukewarm water they break down into a non-toxic green liquid.
One of the biggest issues we see today with biodegradable and compostable plastics is that if they are not processed in the exact perfect conditions they will actually last forever and never break down.
What are some new ways to recycle plastics that you have heard about? Leave a comment to let us know!