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Save Oceans as You Shop These Sustainable Products Made From Recycled Waste

By Sarah Buder

Jun 26, 2020

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Littering and pollution can damage marine ecosystems and kill marine animals.

Photo by Mohamed Abdulraheem/Shutterstock

Littering and pollution can damage marine ecosystems and kill marine animals.

These innovative items aren’t just trendy—they’re eco-friendly too.

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Every year, an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic enters the oceans. To help combat this staggering statistic, various industries have made important eco-friendly efforts in recent years: Major hospitality groups worked with local organizations to introduce conservation strategies, an increasing number of airlines have pledged to fulfill long-term sustainability promises, and environmentally minded hotels are setting new standards for reducing negative environmental impact.

There are plenty of ways to take Earth-saving efforts into your own hands, too, starting with your wallet. These environmentally conscious companies are turning to the sea, transforming discarded trash into everyday treasures you can use on a regular basis (especially during summer). So next time you’re looking to purchase something snazzy, keep these eco-friendly products made from recycled ocean waste at the top of your list.

“The Point” shoe by Rothy’s, $145

Rothy’s shoes 

Buy Now: rothys.com

These fashionable women’s shoes are created using repurposed plastic waste collected within 30 miles of coastlines. (The insoles are made from other recycled shoes.) To date, Rothy’s has repurposed more than 60 million plastic water bottles, but the footwear company uses renewable materials to craft more than just sustainable shoes. In addition to its collection of slip-on flats, loafers, sneakers, and sandals (for women and children), the sustainable brand also features its own line of handbags that includes totes, crossbodies, and handheld pouches knit from 100 percent recycled materials. Customers also receive their purchases in biodegradable boxes made from 85 percent recycled materials, and the box is resealable too, so no tape is needed should you need to return a pair.

“Palms Pink Towel” by Nomadix, $40
Nomadix travel towels

Buy Now: rei.com

It’s a beach towel, it’s a yoga towel, it’s a travel towel . . . and it’s made using 100 percent recycled materials (30 recycled plastic bottles per towel, to be exact). Nomadix designs its trendy towels to be hyper durable, lightweight, and quick drying so you can take them just about anywhere in the great outdoors. The eco-friendly line also offers equally sensible post-surf or swim ponchos for adults and children, as well as festival blankets made primarily from repurposed waste.

Girlfriend Collective activewear

Buy Now: girlfriend.com

Girlfriend Collective produces comfortable leggings, bike shorts, and sports bras using recycled polyester made from plastic bottles. (The ethically produced activewear brand also uses a regenerated nylon yarn made from fishing nets to produce the leggings in its Lite collection.) In addition to being both stylish and sustainable, Girlfriend Collection’s activewear is also inclusive of different body types. Sizes range from XXS to 6XL—with maternity options—and are offered in various colors made with eco-friendly dyes. The packaging is 100 percent recycled and recyclable, too.

“Earth Bag Lite” duffle by Hamilton Perkins Collection, $58

Hamilton Perkins Collection travel bags 

Buy Now: hamiltonperkins.com

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Hamilton Perkins Collection’s Earth bags are made using recycled plastic water bottles and pineapple leaf fiber, as well as repurposed billboard vinyls for the interior lining. The thoughtful travel bags come in different colors and styles, including dufflebags, backpacks, hip bags, and even wallets. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hamilton Perkins also started manufacturing adjustable and reusable face masks from recycled materials. (Read up on everything you need to know about protective face masks, including the latest rules for wearing them in public.)

“Shine 08” sunglasses by Sea2See, $107

Sea2See sunglasses

Buy Now: sea2see.org

These modern sunglasses and optical frames are made entirely from recycled ocean plastic, abandoned fishing nets, and ropes collected from coastal fishing communities in Spain and Ghana. The company’s philosophy focuses on eco-innovation: Plastic is the main source of material in the eyewear industry, and Sea2See aims to lead the change in “turning waste into fashion.” Each pair of frames, which are handmade in Italy, amounts to 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of plastic collected and recycled.

“Ultraboost DNA Parley Shoes” by Adidas, $220

Adidas X Parley for the Oceans sportswear

Buy Now: adidas.com

Ocean advocacy organization Parley for the Oceans teamed with Adidas in 2015 to create a sustainable sportswear line using yarn spun Parley Ocean Plastic—beach waste that’s intercepted and upcycled before it reaches the ocean. The Adidas X Parley for the Oceans line—which sources plastic waste from the Maldives, the Dominican Republic, and Sri Lanka—includes sleek, supportive running shoes and workout wear for men, women, and children. What’s more: Adidas pledges to use repurposed ocean plastic in all of its products by 2024.

“ReNew Transit Weekender” bag by Everlane, $88

Everlane “ReNew Transit Weekender” bag

Buy Now: everlane.com

Everlane’s ReNew Transit Weekender bags are crafted with 100 percent recycled polyester made from plastic water bottles. The eco-friendly luggage features a padded laptop sleeve, two water bottle holders, and an exterior zip pocket, plus a luggage handle pass-through. A fluorine-free water-resistant finish makes the bag extra durable, but safer for the environment (and for you). The sustainable weekend getaway bag can be carried crossbody, over shoulder, or in hand. 

To date, Everlane has recycled over 6.5 million plastic bottles to produce its ReNew apparel and accessories (such as the Weekender bag) as well as its ReKnit footwear, which uses upcycled textiles and fishing nets. The sustainable collections are part of Everlane’s initiative to eliminate all virgin plastic from its supply chain by 2021

“The Seaboard Trunk” by the Tropics, $95

The Tropics swim trunks 

Buy Now: thetropics.co

This men’s swimwear line makes products “that are used to enjoy the ocean, not destroy it.” Each pair of trunks is created from recycled materials that have been transformed into durable Repreve fiber. But the Miami-based brand’s efforts to prevent ocean pollution doesn’t stop with its fashionable products. Each month, the Tropics hosts beach cleanups in the Florida area to spread sustainable awareness throughout the community.

A reef fish sculpture from the Bahari Collection by Sea Star Beachwear X Ocean Sole Africa, $45

Ocean Sole x Sea Star recycled beach art

Buy Now: seastarbeachwear.com

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Kenya’s women-run marine charity, Ocean Sole Africa, collects over 100,000 pounds of discarded flip-flops from the country’s coast annually and upcycles the plastic waste into art. In 2018, resort and lifestyle brand Sea Star Beachwear teamed up with Ocean Sole to support their empowering mission: Now Ocean Sole’s upcycled sculptures are sold online alongside Sea Star’s water-friendly shoes, bags, and accessories. The collection, named Bahari (which means “sea” in Swahili), features colorful sculptures depicting sea creatures such as turtles, octopuses, and hammerhead sharks. Each piece retails for $45 and all of the proceeds are donated back to Ocean Sole Africa’s beach-cleaning initiative.

“The Tide II” sunglasses from Norton Point, $89
Norton Point sunglasses

Buy Now: nortonpoint.com

This Los Angeles–based, Martha’s Vineyard-born brand removes plastic from Haiti’s canals and coastlines and transforms the waste into “socially conscious eyewear.” For every pair of sunglasses sold, Norton Point pledges to remove one pound of plastic from the ocean. Additionally, 5 percent of the company’s net profits go toward global cleanup, education, and remediation initiatives. 

“175 Gram Freestyle Frisbee” by Bureo, $12

Bureo Fishnet Flyer Frisbee

Buy Now: bureo.co

Discarded fishing nets make up an estimated 10 percent of plastic in the ocean, according to eco-friendly product manufacturer Bureo. The company is committed to creating sustainable products that combat this problem by using recycled fishing nets from coastal communities to create its skateboards, surf fins, sunglasses, and insulated water bottles, plus fun goods like Jenga (the board game) and Frisbees. 

“The Legacy” shoe by Suavs (available for women and men), $110

Suavs shoes

Buy Now: sauvshoes.com

Available in both high- and low-top versions for men and women, Suavs sneakers feature flexible rubber soles and uppers knit from postconsumer recycled water bottles. In addition to being eco-friendly and washable, these ultra lightweight shoes pack flat—making them an ideal travel shoe that takes up next to no space in your bag. For those who prefer wearing shoes without socks, Suavs come with removable microfiber terry foam insoles that are also sold separately if you need replacements.

“Aviator Carry-On” hard-shell luggage by Paravel, $255

Paravel “Aviator Carry-On” luggage

Buy Now: tourparavel.com

In addition to its lining made from recycled plastic bottles, Paravel’s “Aviator Carry-On” features a recycled polycarbonate shell, recycled zippers, and an extendable handle made from recycled aluminum. Perfect for up to a week of packing, the compact luggage is equipped with 360° rotating wheels and a TSA-approved lock, plus an interior compression board and a removable accessories pouch (not to mention a vegan leather exterior trim). The upcycled hard-shell suitcase launched in November 2019 as part of Paravel’s new sustainability initiative, which also kicked off with a collection of light duffel bags and packing cubes made from recycled plastic water bottles.

Lyndsey Matthews contributed reporting to this story.

This article originally appeared on June 1, 2018, and was updated on June 26, 2020, to include current information. Products we write about are independently vetted and recommended by our editors. AFAR may earn a commission if you buy through our links, which helps support our independent publication.

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