Next-level sustainability: Five fun products you didn’t know existed
With every crisis comes opportunity, and the climate crisis is no exception. I love coming across fun ways that companies have come up with to tackle the environmental issue in the fashion industry. Here are my top five so far, in no particular order:
Moo.com is a website where you can get fancy artsy business cards printed to your liking. You can customize the shape, paper type & thickness, make them extra glossy, give them rounded corners, add tactile features, anything. One of the options you have is to use paper made out of fashion industry waste! They take the bits of fabrics that are left over from a T-shirt making process & turn them into paper. I ordered a sample and they have a bit of a “bendy” fabric-like feel. When I get my own business cards, I don’t think I’m allowed to get anything else.
2. Sunglasses made out of coffee (Ochis Coffee Eyewear)
Sunglasses made out of coffee? Yep, that’s a thing, and it was featured in Forbes! The Ukrainian founder grew up helping his parents run their business in the eyewear repair industry before deciding to start his own collection at 22. Wanting to be true to his values, he decided to source only plant-based materials that regenerate within one season and use no harmful chemicals. The sunglasses start to decompose within 10 years when submerged in soil or water (compare this to 100+ years for regular plastic!) and, bonus, apparently they smell like coffee too! If you’re curious and happen to speak Russian, you can watch the founder talk about his project here. At the time of writing, the company is migrating to a new website so you can’t order quite yet, but you can get on their waitlist to be notified when the new site goes live.
Just in time for Halloween! An innovative company in Germany called nat-2 makes sneakers out of all kinds of fun (and spooky) materials like moss, flowers, discarded milk, and… waste streams of slaughterhouses! The fat and bones are turned into a leather-like material used on the top part of the shoes, and the blood is used as a colorant and a plasticizer. With these sneakers, Nat-2 hopes to draw attention to the waste and cruel treatement of animals that happen on a pretty wide scale. The sneakers cost 1000 euros and are made on demand within 8 weeks. Credit to 1410design.com for helping me find this idea.
4. Bricks made out of textile waste (FabBRICK)
A company in France called FabBrick (two Bs!) turns old hole-y clothes into bricks! The founder, Clarisse Merlet, takes shredded textiles received from a clothing collection company, mixes them with a glue, places them in a mold and mechanically compresses them to create a material that can be used to make store displays, cubicle dividers, and much more! The textiles she receives are clothes that are too worn or damaged to be resold or reused. To learn more, check out this video on the founder’s YouTube channel. Can this please exist in North America?
5. 3D-printed flip flops (Retraction Footwear)
Retraction Footwear is a company in Australia that offers to 3D print your next pair of flips flops! They’ll print them on demand & customize them to the length, width, and arch height of your foot, as well as your weight. While the flip flops aren’t made out of recycled materials, the fact that they are printed on demand eliminates a lot of the waste & emissions normally created by the shoe-making process – i.e. when shoe parts are cut out of large blocks of material (leftovers = waste) and shipped all over the world to be assembled & sold (= emissions galore). And of course, the on-demand model takes care of the waste created from shoes that don’t end up being sold to the consumer. Detailed videos on how the shoes are made are available on Retraction’s website, and they have a takeback program where you can send in your flip flops to be recycled into new pairs.
A company in Montreal – which won YES Montreal’s preaccelerator for female entrepreneurs! – is also working to have 3D printed heels on the market by 2021 (you can get on their waiting list here). Exciting times people! If this process is implemented on a wide scale, it could revolutionize the shoe supply chain to drastically cut waste & emissions.
So there. Don’t know about you, but in my eyes conventional companies have NO excuse for not going green – there are so many creative and interesting ways to lower their carbon footprint! And it’s up to you, the consumer, to give companies that push in the right direction by giving your dollar vote to the companies that are leading the way.