Marine plastic is a design problem.
For 100 years, we’ve treated plastic like a temporary material. Nine of the top 10 items found during beach cleanups are plastics designed to be used just once! Single-use plastics fulfill their purpose for a few minutes, and are then tossed into a landfill or the ocean where they last forever.
At the same time, our current global infrastructure is insufficient to recover and recycle this huge volume of plastic waste. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that 54% of plastics are landfilled or incinerated and 32% leaks into our environment, including marine environments. Ultimately, only 14% of plastics end up recycled.
So what’s an optimist to do?
Researchers and non-profits agree that reducing single-use plastic and intercepting plastic before it ends up in the environment are the most important ways to minimize the stream of plastic entering our waterways. Upon reaching the ocean, plastic breaks into smaller pieces or sinks to the sea floor. While I’m always in support of applying creative and innovative solutions to cleaning up our oceans, the best thing that we can do is to stop plastic from reaching the ocean in the first place.
Rothy’s is helping to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in our waterways by supporting plastics collection in communities that lack comprehensive waste management and recycling infrastructure. Through our partners, we collect plastics within 30 miles of coastlines—the areas where plastics are at the highest risk of ending up in oceans—and give them new life. Marine plastic is blended with Rothy’s signature thread (made from recycled plastic water bottles), to create our washable, 3D knit bag collection. Plastic is a durable material, and we believe it can be transformed beyond single-use into fashionable and sustainable products that are built to last, such as our slip on sneakers.
Through our newest material innovation, Rothy’s is supporting solutions to clean up our oceans—and making a statement that the planet we live in is one worth protecting.