Sustainable Fashion: Ocean Pollution becomes Wearable Fashion

A comprehensive February 2015 report published in the journal Science found that we dump approximately 19 billion pounds of plastic into the oceans every year.  And there are many working to ensure that the damage stops.  And from the many, a unique partnership has sprung
between Cyrill Gutsch, founder of Parley for the Oceans, and Bionic Yarn, a company that produces high-performance yarn and fabric from plastic. Bionic Yarn creates wearable fashion from the plastic waste Parley for the Oceans retrieves.

22n January, 2014 Kuta Beach, Kuta, Bali, Indonesia Bali's famous beaches have been swamped by a sea of plastic in the last 4 weeks. Photo Jason Childs  Photo Credit-(c)Jason Childs
Kuta Beach, Kuta, Bali, Indonesia
Bali’s famous beaches have been swamped by a sea of plastic Photo Jason Childs (January 2014)

Bionic Yarn, which boasts musician and record producer Pharrell Williams as creative director and an investor, takes plastic and infuses it into various fabrics to create real fashions.

The process includes creating small fibers from plastic waste, then binding it onto fabrics such as yarn, lycra, cotton and polyester, which make up the majority of clothing.

A spool of fabric being created from plastics found in the oceans.
A spool of fabric being created from plastics found in the oceans.

Of course this incredible fashion technology only manages a symptom of the larger problem.  The biggest issue right now is that nobody really has a full picture of what is going on or where the plastic is located and what exact amounts are floating around. But maybe Google’s new Ocean map can help.  Google wants to draw attention to the preservation of underwater kingdoms. Each image in Google Maps is a GPS-located digital record of these underwater and coastal environments, which can be used as a baseline to monitor change over time. Google_underwater_Street_View The initiative is about more than sharing some impressive subaqueous photography, these comprehensive records not only showcase the beauty of these ecosystems they also highlight the threats they face. “Mapping the ocean is key to preserving it,” writes Jenifer Austin and Brian Sullivan of the Google Ocean Program. Humpback-Whales-Cook-Islands-hyperlapse RAW for the Oceans collaboration with Parley for the Oceans, Bionic Yarn and Pharrell has collected 53 tons of ocean plastic debris from the coastlines of Indonesia, China and Australia,” shared Shubhankar Ray, G-Star’s global brand director. “We use about 10 tons of recycled plastic, which translates to two million recycled plastic bottles.”  A collaboration with Google could only make things better. Still, one of the greatest challenges each collaboration must face is finding ways to get plastic out of the oceans without harming sea life.

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