Your view of a 24-pack of bottled waters is about to be permanently changed.
Here’s the short version of the story. Empty water bottles become ocean plastic becomes performance apparel.
Now, the long version. Twenty-three (23) of those bottles equates to one (1) pound of plastic. And unfortunately, those bottles will end up in our waterways. But, and you know this already, I’m not just talking about the wastewater runoff creek in the greenway behind your house, or between your apartment building and the next. Eventually, plastic waste makes its way to our ponds, lakes and rivers, then to delicate coastal ecosystems, and finally to the ocean.
The results are sickening. Veritable islands of plastic are floating in our oceans. And, given consumers’ expectations around convenience, it may appear to be an intractable problem.
In fact, there are solutions. Little by little, big by big, we can work to solve the problem that is ocean plastic.
Sea Threads co-founders Dylan Cross and Paige Brewer are leading the way. Together they are the main muscle behind Sea Threads, which makes performance apparel from 100% recycled ocean plastic. Each long-sleeve shirt removes one pound—yes, almost that whole 24-pack of water bottles—of ocean plastic from coastal and marine ecosystems. How amazing is that?
Dylan has an innate appreciation and knowledge of coastal and marine ecosystems, having grown up on the water in Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay. While studying marine biology at Florida Tech, he was also working as a kayaking guide in the Indian River Lagoon on Florida’s Atlantic coast. And he encountered a lot of trash.
He collected as much trash as he could and began thinking about a more holistic approach to managing ocean plastic. Around the same time, he changed his course of study to business and environmental studies. After a mentorship program through Groundswell Startups, and with financial backing from family and friends, he founded Sea Threads in 2020. Paige officially joined the company late in 2022, just before its first launch with REI in Winter Park, Florida.
Sea Threads shirts are now available in 15 REI stores in nine states. The other successful extension of the business is selling blank shirts to brands and screen printers for customization. And Sea Threads is working on building direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales, too.
Yes, the company is still small, but its impact is growing. Amid steep waves, no less. Sea Threads competes against a host of other, more established, apparel brands, all of which are working hard to talk and walk sustainability, but that don’t necessarily offer such a direct environmental impact like Sea Threads does.
Sea Threads will break through by:
- Running a tight ship, and fully auditing every step, and maintaining transparency. Sea Threads follows the Recycled Claim Standard and Global Recycled Standard. Sea Threads apparel meets OceanCycle requirements for products made from ocean and ocean-bound plastics.
- Treating the Earth and people right. Running the entire manufacturing process in one place significantly reduces Sea Threads’ carbon footprint. Sea Threads is careful to ensure that its supplier is able to pay workers a living wage.
- Expanding and inviting audiences to champion its full-circle sustainability story.
- Always delivering. Its growing wholesale business with REI and other independent retailers provides excellent pressure testing for scalability, which Sea Threads is leveraging to be ready for DTC sales.
I’m inspired by Dylan and Paige and grateful to Sea Threads advisors and investors for believing that we can work to solve the ocean plastic problem. Through apparel sales in 2023, Sea Threads will have removed 10,000 pounds of ocean plastic. By 2024, that number will be 30,000. You see the trajectory. We want to see these numbers grow because we want to see less plastic in the ocean. And a lighter load on the ocean is good for the whole Earth.
Late spring 2023, in addition to its flagship long-sleeved, crew neck shirt, the company will also be offering long-sleeved hoodies and short-sleeved, crew neck shirts in eight new colors.
Original Article By Meredith Vaughan of Vladimir Jones