Plastic. One of the biggest polluters in the world’s oceans. It’s an almost unavoidable material at this point.
In 2012, over three million pieces of plastic were found by the International Coastal Cleanup, ranging from plastic bottles, straws, and single-use cutlery. With many environmentalists, activists, and scientists alike trying to find a way to clean up the ocean and find a better use for the plastic accumulating, Unifi began to make huge strides in turning plastic into a fiber.
Although hard to imagine at first, plastic can be turned into a fabric. You might more commonly know it by the name polyester or PET. But before it can become polyester, it has to go through a whole process.
Step one is collecting clear plastic bottles from companies and other communities around the world. Once in the factories' possession, it is chopped, ground, washed, melted and then converted into small pellets. These pellets are then melted into a liquid polymer and spun into a fiber. After some more runs through a spinner and air-jet texturing, you get a finished product: polyester yarn.
Like most things, this isn’t a perfect system. Over the past three years, people have been debating the fact that polyester is only creating a bigger problem and it’s called microplastic. After being washed, this polymer could be releasing very tiny pieces of plastic into the ocean, which if not already a difficult task, makes ridding the ocean of plastic even harder.
In our collaboration with Embassy of Bricks and Logs, we utilized recycled plastic for the filling of our Flying Guillotine Puffer Jacket. Since puffer jackets are washed infrequently, there would be a minimal amount of microplastic released.
We also valued the ability to use an alternative down on two counts: many people have allergies to goose down (like the author of this piece), and we value not using animal-derived products (the geese definitely don’t want to get plucked—this much we know).
It’s definitely a complex issue, but we take pride that the release of our new jackets has also pulled plastic out of the ocean.
Photo courtesy of Bonnie Monteleone