Recycled Plastic: How Fashion can Help you Turn the Tide on Ocean Waste

Recycled Plastic: How Fashion can Help you Turn the Tide on Ocean Waste


6 minute read

Plastic Free July has ended but we like to think of the challenge as a year-long commitment to cleaning the trail of plastic waste. This extends beyond breaking-up with the single-use plastic addiction to include conscious wardrobe choices. But can fashion be a force for good in crashing the plastic party without compromising on style and diversity? 

Fishing out waste from our marine ecosystems to repurpose it into recycled plastic fabric is already well-developed and comes as a demonstration of the fashion industry’s motivation for biomimicry. If nature can beautifully transform old into new, why shouldn’t we?  

Turning old plastic into new products

Photosynthesis, anaerobic digestion, plant regeneration… These are all examples of how nature bio-recycles waste into resources such as energy and nutrients. In this line of thought, recycling ocean plastic waste into fibres that boast the quality of virgin materials mimics the regenerative processes in nature. Today, ECONYL® and REPREVE represent the largest portion of the market share of ocean plastic fibre and are emblematic of the endless possibilities for the prosperity of people and the planet through waste regeneration.

These companies have pioneered closed loop regeneration processes to give new life to the abundance of marine debris like discarded plastic bottles and old fishing nets. The reclaimed plastic is transformed into a nylon yarn that has the same characteristics as its virgin counterpart but is less resource-hungry, using approximately 50% less energy. And not only - for every 10,000 tons of recycled nylon 70,000 barrels of crude oil are saved, and 57,100 tons of CO2 emissions avoided!

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With its durability, functional versatility and characteristics that allow it to be recycled infinitely, ECONYL® is becoming a staple favourite substitute for virgin nylon. 

From elegant looks to everyday cozy and comfy wear, recycled plastic offers limitless opportunities for the environmentally conscious fashionista. See below how some of our favourite swimwear, lingerie and performance wear brands are aiming to fashion a new relationship between plastic and the ocean. 

1. Opposites attract - plastic and the ocean 

With our first fashion piece we used reclaimed marine plastic as a positive force for nature. As lightweight as possible and with skin-tight stretch, the Not A Virgin swimsuit helps you glide through water effortlessly. And not only that! With the fabric tenacity of ECONYL® and the exquisite shade of green, it is perfect for land adventures, too. Not A Virgin can be as versatile as your imagination allows. To get inspired, check our stylist-approved ideas

We are conscious that the usage of recycled plastic combats the excessive amounts of waste taking over our oceans but does not solve the problem entirely. With Not A Virgin we favoured a small production to contribute to the vision of a circular economy where waste is designed out. We crafted only 100 pieces but made sure that each one has a net positive impact on the environment and the community. With the CO2 emissions saved from only 1 swimsuit you can charge your phone 2,899 times. Sweet deal, right?

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Considering the entire product lifecycle, we embraced a cradle-to-cradle design philosophy, creating a mono-material swimsuit that can be easily recycled after many mindful sunrises and musical sunsets. Or why not give it a second life via our take-back scheme in partnership with Thrift+?

2. The eco-friendly activewear

Demonstrating better shape recovery than traditional fabrics, recycled plastic is also very-well suited for activewear. High performance, non-see-through, and super elastic, it ensures a perfect fit under any circumstances and follows every move of your body. Remaining active, while acting good to the planet is no longer a puzzle with the extremely comfy workout pieces by Nature Hommage. With 78% ECONYL® in the composition, these elevated soft-sport garments are breathable, quick-drying and sweat-wicking. 

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If you are more into flowless yoga moves, the REPREVE Recylced Polyester High Neck Bra by Nitara will have your back (and front) throughout every shape you make on the mat while committing to the trinity of purity – pure mind, body and planet. 

3. Recycled plastic in the sole

Speaking of sportswear, did you know that manufacturing an average pair of synthetic trainers generates approximately 30lbs of greenhouse gas emissions which equates to leaving a 100-watt bulb burning for a week? With the usage of recycled plastic, 50% of the impact can be mitigated, while you’ll be getting a pretty pair of sneakers of the same quality to saunter the streets in.

If you are searching for some sustainable sneaks with a story to their sole, look no further than Zouri that reuse the equivalent to 6 bottles of plastic from the Ocean for each pair of eco-vegan sneakers. 

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It may not sound like a lot, but this year Zouri has removed 1 ton of plastic from the Portuguese beaches, galvanizing the power of the community to act with purpose. The sustainability impact measure which can be found on Kool And Konscious translates this into CO2 and water savings, as well as circularity score. 

4. Yes, regenerated plastic can be that sexy

Despite its skimpy use of material, the plastic footprint of lingerie still accrues quite an environmental impact, mainly due to the energy-intensive process of virgin polyester production. Resorting to natural materials can be an alternative, but is often a trade-off on elasticity and fit. Luckily, there are sustainable brands that have introduced reclaimed ocean plastic to the underwear stage and proved it a viable solution to reducing the footprint of your top drawer. Breathable and extra-stretch, recycled plastic is the perfect fit for lingerie; one to make you feel confident and effortlessly sexy.   

Spice up your lingerie game with the eye-catching Firenze Recycled Polyamide Lace Bralette or complement your essentials collections with the second-skin underwear in nude that's ideal for everyday wear. In the end, what can be sexier than #koolingtheplanet in lingerie that reimagines ocean plastic?

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From high fashion to high street, we see recycled plastic reinvented into timeless pieces that help keep the production of virgin plastic-made materials down. It is said that a culture of reuse is a culture of purpose and with that we fully agree.


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