In a first for fashion brands, United By Blue has pledged to remove one pound of trash from the world’s oceans and waterways for every product sold.
Next to oil, fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world. This is partly to do with our ‘fast fashion’ industry, which promotes the consumption of cheap, low-quality clothing over investment in durable pieces. According to McKinsey & Company, the average person is purchasing 60 per cent more items of clothing compared to 2000, and each garment is only kept half as long. This leads to a great deal of textile waste.
Additionally, the manufacturing of clothing releases polluting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. According to MIT, polyester production for textiles released about 706 billion kilograms of greenhouse gases in 2015—the equivalent of 185 coal-fired power plants’ annual emissions.
United By Blue is trying to offset the damage done by the clothing industry—and beyond—by cleaning trash from global waters. So far, they’ve removed over 450,000 kilograms of litter from 27 states across the US. During the 200 plus cleanups, anything from single-use plastics to abandoned trucks have been extracted from the water.
United By Blue prioritised water pollution for its conservation efforts. According to the company’s website, “We organise and host cleanups to make a measurable impact on the most pressing of environmental problems: ocean trash and plastics pollution.”
Indeed, one refuse truck’s-worth of plastic is dumped into the sea every minute. And, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050 according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.