13 Stunning Recycled Ocean Plastic Products
Few initiatives are more exciting in our quest to restore ecological systems, rollback climate change, and harmonize our lifestyles with nature than pulling trash out of the ocean and transforming it into high-performance, eco-friendly consumer products.
Today, bold entrepreneurs, designers, nonprofits, and big businesses are jumping into polluted waters to do precisely that. They are hauling out discarded fishing nets and single-use plastic bottles. They are inventing new materials for the 21st century, forming vital public-private partnerships, and creating stunning sustainable solutions.
One example is Waterhaul, maker of sunglasses and prescription eyewear made from 100% recycled fishing nets. See the video below.
Efforts underway to make recycled ocean plastic products are vital. According to National Geographic, over 5 Trillion pieces of plastic debris are in our oceans. That’s because humanity is both addicted to plastic and lousy at recycling it. As the chart indicates below, globally only 20% of plastic is recycled.
A study released this past spring portrays a situation that will get worse unless we concertedly work to make it better. That’s because by 2040 more than 1.4 Billion tons of plastic will flow into our oceans. Currently, we’re at a rate of about 8 million tons per year. For some context, that’s like a New York City garbage truck full of plastic garbage backing up to New York Harbor and dumping its contents into the ocean-bound waters every minute of every day for the entire year.
Plastic is harmful to marine life and potentially to human life. Plastic is also a climate issue because it’s made directly from fossil fuels (ie. coal, oil, and natural gas) through an energy-intensive manufacturing process that happens to also burn massive amounts of fossil fuels. The resulting climate emissions are strikingly enormous and growing (see what’s happening in Texas).
We can’t kick our fossil fuels habit without kicking our plastic habit too.
Plastic is cheap and durable, which is why we depend on it. The silver lining is that its durability is what enables companies to recycle it into the raw material for new high-quality goods.
The stories behind these brands are deeply inspiring. Their products embody humanity’s vast capacity for environmental problem-solving.
Here are 12 sustainable products made from recycled ocean plastic.
products from recycled ocean plastic
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Zennor sunglasses by waterhaul
Made from 100% recycled fishing nets, Zennor is a lightweight performance pair of polarized sunglasses. The frame offers an extra-wide field of vision with a durable integrated hinge and temples that grip the back of the head. It’a classic sports design that works for a wide range of activities. And like all Waterhaul products, it comes with a lifetime guarantee as damaged frame components can be repeatedly recycled into new frames.
EXPLORE: ZENNOR SUNGLASSES
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noho move chair
An environmentally friendly design that considers the well-being of both you and the planet. The chair’s patented mesh seat provides form-fitting comfort that responds to your movements, thereby eliminating pressure points and improving circulation. It’s made of recycled post-industrial polypropylene (that’s plastic) and ECONYL, a material composed of regenerated fishing nets and end-of-life carpets. Also available with colorful toppers made of New Zealand wool.
EXPLORE: NOHO MOVE CHAIR
who makes the recycled ocean plastic brands rely upon?
Some brands like Yardbird have developed their own recycling process and supply chain. Other brands partner with innovative factories. Here’s a snapshot of the leading recycle ocean plastic manufacturers.
Aquifil – Based in Italy, Aquiful invented ECONYL, an infinitely recyclable nylon material made from recycled ocean (fishing nets) and landfill waste (like carpet).
#Tide – A Swiss-based company that collects ocean-bound plastic in Southeast Asia in partnership with local fishermen. Working with nonprofits, #Tide registers, washses, and shreds the material, and then applies precision Swiss manufacturing to create its recycled plastic.
Plastix – Located in Denmark, Plastix is cleantech recycling company that gives new life to used, obsolete, and discarded fishing nets, trawls, and ropes by recycling them. The newly created plastic raw materials are developed through its own unique, proprietary processes.
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commuter backpack w/bionic by incase
To create this sleek, slim profile backpack, Incase developed BIONIC yarn, an abrasion-resistant ripstop material made from recycled plastics found in marine and coastal environments. It features numerous storage and organization compartments plus an exterior water bottle pocket. The backpack is made with the equivalent of 26 water bottles rescued from our oceans (see all sustainable backpacks).
Incase partnered with Waterkeeeper Alliance, a global nonprofit dedicated to clean water, to create the supply chain for its breakthrough earth-friendly material.
EXPLORE: COMMUTER BACKPACK WITH BIONIC
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Freie Liebe Naked phone Case by POPSICASE
Arts uplifts the planet in this 100% recycled phone case made from fishing nets. It’s part of Popsicase’s Love 360 Collection, for which students from the University Center of Design and Art of Barcelona to express their particular visions of love.
Spain-based Popsicase partners with fishermen to reclaim their nets and transform them into its wide range of eco-friendly phone cases.
PRICE: 29 Euro (Approx. $34 – Includes Free Worldwide Shipping)
EXPLORE: FREIE LEIBE NAKED PHONE CASE
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ocean plastic watch by triwa
Made entirely from ocean plastic, it’s the watch for ocean lovers and design fans. Details include three-dimensional waves on the dial, oversized indexes and hands, and 10 ATM water-resistance – making it suitable for swimming and water sports. Other colors in Triwa’s Time For The Oceans Collection include deep blue, coral, and seaweed.
Triwa partners with Switzerland-based #Tide to source its recycled ocean-bound plastic.
PRICE: 119 Euro (approx. $140 and up)
EXPLORE: OCEAN PLASTIC WATCH- SEAL
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terrex free hiker parley hiking shoe by adidas
Urban dwellers and outdoor adventurers alike will easily navigate their terrain in these performance-oriented hiking shoes. The upper is made from recycled ocean plastic in partnership with Parley, an organization working with coastal communities to capture plastic trash before it goes out to sea and transform it into high-performance fabrics.
EXPLORE: Terrex Free Hiker Parley Hiking Shoe
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the farmstand by lettuce grow
This self-watering, self-fertilizing hydroponic growing system is a lazy environmentalist’s dream. Marrying technology, design, and convenience in a vessel made from recycled ocean-bound plastic, The Farmstand lets you easily grow over 200 varieties of fruits, vegetables, or herbs. No dirt. No weeds. It reduces water consumption needs by up to 95% and provides the flexibility to grow food indoors or out as your space permits.
PRICE: Starting at $348 plus $29 per month subscription
EXPLORE: THE FARMSTAND
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Watercolor Dot Recycled Rug by pottery barn teen
PB Teen offers a startling array of rugs made from recycled and sustainable materials. For the Watercolor Dot Recycled Rug, PB Teen partnered with ECONYL to make this 100% recycled rug facing with a backing made of recycled cotton and synthetic latex.
PRICE: $129 – $299
EXPLORE: WATERCOLOR DOT RECYCLED RUG
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Elliot Outdoor Seating Set by yardbird
These oversized rounded outdoor sofas feature a furniture industry first: the webbing is made of recycled ocean-bound plastic. Yardbird built its own supply-chain of plastics from the ground up, hiring a collection workforce in the Philipines to capture discarded plastic, which the company then sends to its partner factories for fabrication. Here’s how they do it.
PRICE: $2975 and up
EXPLORE: ELLIOT OUTDOOR SEATING SET
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POP Surf – Long Sleeve Zipped UPF 50 One-Piece Swimsuit by roxy
Roxy has been a force in the world of women’s surfing for thirty years. Their collections have been worn by world champions including Stephanie Gilmore (pictured above). Gilmore is working with Roxy as its sustainability brand ambassador of its new Pop Surf collection, featuring ECONYL (in the swimsuit pictured), plus other innovations for its sustainable wetsuits.
EXPLORE: POP SURF – LONG SLEEVE ZIPPED UPF 50 ONE PIECE SWIMSUIT
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Globetrotter Boxer by The Other Danish Guy
Many brands aspire to improve the underwear experience for men. But few consider the planet, which means most men wearing designer underwear are walking around with their balls covered in petroleum-based plastic (yuck). The Other Danish Guy, on the other hand, believes that the three balls that matter most are the two between your legs and the one we live on. Their performance boxers are true-fit and are made of proprietary SMOOTHSHELL, a 100% recycled nylon fabric derived in partnership with ECONYL.
PRICE: $33 (get discounts for purchasing more)
EXPLORE: GLOBETROTTER BOXER
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ocean chair by mater
Made using recycled fishing nets and other hard plastic recovered from the oceans, the Ocean Chair is a study in clean minimalist design. It’s a part of a reimagined chair and table collection originally fabricated in the 1950s. Designed with full circularity in mind, the chair can be easily disassembled into its attendant parts and recycled over and over again.
EXPLORE: OCEAN CHAIR (Available at 2Modern)
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the handbag by rothy’s
The Handbag is 3D knit using yarn made of recycled ocean-bound plastic – rescued from within 30 miles of the coastline – combined with yarn made from recycled single-use plastic water bottles. This structured handbag is machine-washable and features both a handle and a removable strap to choose the style that works for you. Rothy’s delightful marine plastic bag collection launched in 2020.
EXPLORE: THE HANDBAG
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