Plastic Pollution: A problem? A solution?
Updated: Jun 12, 2019
A Guest Piece for sustainable swimwear brand sand&palm
Plastic is deadly. In fact, it claims the lives of 100,000 marine mammals and 1 million seabirds every year, yet every single minute across the globe we consume 1 million plastic bottles, 1 million disposable cups and 2 million plastic bags. It seems we can’t live without it but where did it come from? Ironically, the birth of plastic was an effort to protect nature by ending the use of elephant ivory found in many household objects from clothing buttons to piano keys, yet plastic production quickly accelerated from 2 million tons in 1950 to over 400 million tons today. Now with that in mind, are we really surprised there will be more plastic in the sea than fish by 2050?
It’s no secret we can’t escape plastic, living a zero waste lifestyle seems almost impossible but where can we start? Our consumption choices. The rise of the fast fashion industry has normalised individual overconsumption with the industry prioritising low costs and speed from design to shop floor in order to maximise their growing profits. Having access to such low cost products has encouraged us to live a ‘throwaway lifestyle’ where we often perceive it to be both easier and cheaper to dispose of worn clothing instead of repairing or upcycling our items. This lifestyle is highlighted by the 300,000 tons of clothing items, amounting to £140 million, that UK households disposed of in 2016 alone. These discarded items typically end their journey in either landfill sites or in the ocean, posing a grave threat for the marine environment, particularly when 60% of clothing material is made from plastics in the form of polyester, nylon and other synthetic fibres.
This is why at sand&palm we are different. We are conscious. We believe in returning to slow clothing that remains harmonious with nature. Sand&palm garments are individually handmade in our studio in the surf capital of Cornwall, Newquay for the conscious consumer that shares our values. Sand&palm only uses lycra that is 100% recycled from regenerated ghost fishing nets and post-consumer waste. Fishing nets can take up to 600 years to degrade while ocean currents continue to move discarded fishing gear through the water, entangling anything in its path; an act commonly known as ghost fishing. With lost and abandoned fishing gear accounting for almost half of all ocean plastic pollution, we believe in a circular future; a future of sustainability. The process of our recycled lycra begins by removing ghost fishing nets and post-consumer waste from both the ocean and landfill sites. This enables nylon to be recovered and prepared for purification and regeneration. The nylon is then processed back into its original, pure form to be utilised as lycra in our sand&palm garments. The complexity of this process means that only 1% of clothing across the UK is made from recycled materials and although it’s a complex, timely process it is a process that sand&palm are committed to.