It's hard to imagine how a disregarded plastic bottle, or up to 11 of them to be precise, can be transformed into a pair of fashion slides or sneakers. That's 11 pieces of plastic waste removed from our oceans to create something useful, functional and fashionable.
On the face of it, it all seems pretty simple but, on our journey to bring Ocean5 to life, we discovered that some pretty ingenious technology is needed to make it all happen.
From its source as plastic waste in the ocean, to being harvested and collected by Plastic Bank to creating the finished article, the lowly plastic bottle follows an intricate route to become a piece of sustainable fashion.
First the harvested bottles are washed and labels removed. The sanitised plastic is then shredded and turned into granules which are melted, extruded and stretched to create mounds of stringy fibres which resemble fluff. It's this magic fluff that is key to making the PET canvas in our shoes.
If you've already bought a pair of Ocean5 slides or trainers you may recognise the fluff - we've used it as padding in our packaging, replacing the need for eco-unfriendly options like Styrofoam chips. It's incredibly soft and malleable making it perfect for the next stage in the production process where the fibres are spun into a durable yarn...
This gives us our recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) yarn which is woven to create the final canvas you'll find in the upper and lining of our shoes. 100% recycled PET is also used in our trainer insoles.
While recycled plastic bottles are the key ingredient in the sustainable footprint we are creating at Ocean5, we've worked hard to incorporate eco-inspired materials into the detailed elements of our shoes...
- Each foot bed uses 80% natural cork and latex.
- Trainer laces are made with 100% responsibly sourced cotton.
- The cushioning in each shoe uses 100% recycled PVC.
- The fabric dye we use is eco-friendly and uses a fraction of the water needed in traditional fabric dyeing.
All of these considered ingredients are brought together through thoughtful design to create the finished article.
At Ocean5 we know that sustainability isn't limited to the materials we use. We need to consider the durability and performance of our shoes, ensuring they are fit for purpose and are built to last. And, most importantly, sustainability means raising awareness about the devastation plastic waste is causing in our oceans and encouraging suppliers and consumers to tackle plastic consumption at its very core.
We've taken our first steps in the right direction, we hope you'll join us.