Human beings are voracious consumers, as our consumption of the Earth’s resources attests. Our consumer habits are one of the main causes for the environmental problems we’re facing. But what if we could put our consumptive habits to good use? This is already being done in the Caribbean, where authorities and local chefs have partnered to combat the invasive lionfish by adding it to menus. Authorities hope diners will help deplete populations, effectively making overfishing work for the oceans and reefs rather than against them.
RAW for the Oceans
Dutch fashion label G-Star RAW is taking a similar approach. In 2014, they announced their new RAW for the Oceans line. The series of clothing includes jeans, jackets, T-shirts and hoodies, all made from plastic debris reclaimed from the ocean. The first batch of products has already used up more than 10 tons of plastic.
The brand collaborates with musician Pharrell Williams and his Bionic Yarn project, which makes textile products from reclaimed plastic. Bionic Yarn doesn’t produce any consumer products, but has made its mission the creation of a yarn based on plastic collected from the oceans and other places in nature, one that’s superior to traditional cotton or nylon yarn.
G-Star RAW’s line uses Bionic Yarn to make the first-ever jeans, as well as other urban clothing, from recycled plastic. G-Star RAW markets the clothing with Williams as its curator. A stylized octopus logo is featured both on a number of the items and woven into classic patterns like houndstooth. The campaign also features a number of ambassadors from various industries, such as music and fashion, to help spread awareness of the products and the concept behind their creation.
Will we all be wearing plastic?
This isn’t the first time that a company has used post-consumer plastic in clothing. Outdoor-clothing manufacturer Patagonia has long championed fleece jackets made from recycled plastic, a concept that other producers in that industry have since adopted. But this is the first time a strictly fashion brand with the size and distribution of G-Star RAW has focused specifically on plastic reclaimed from the oceans.
So will we all be wearing The Great Pacific Garbage Patch next year? Hopefully these products will find their way into mainstream fashion, making clothing like this common and not just part of a special campaign to raise awareness about the plastic in the oceans. Ideally we’ll one day hear a fashion brand say that they’re not able to meet demands for their products, due to a lack of plastic in the oceans.