Last September, Method announced plans to develop bottles made from collected ocean plastic. In the company of EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, Method co-founder Adam Lowry described our work to collect plastic from the beaches of California and Hawaii and convert them into new, recyclable bottles for method soap.
So, what have we been up to since then? Mostly cleaning beaches.
Method has participated in, alongside partners Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and Kahuku Hawai’i Foundation, several beach cleanup days that resulted in collecting several thousand pounds of beach debris. The primary challenge encountered in these cleanups, aside from hauling hundreds of pounds of plastic from remote beach locations, has been retrieving the plastics before they degrade to tiny particles that are effectively impossible to collect in large quantities.
The range and quantity of plastic in the oceans is astounding. The debris collected from these beaches has varied from fishing baskets made of polypropylene to Russian shampoo bottles and Japanese bleach bottles made from HDPE, to car bumpers, ropes, water bottles, and buoys.
Although these cleanups have allowed us to gather plenty of plastic, they face real challenges of scale in creating a lasting supply chain. Fortunately, we’ve found some great potential partners. One is United by Blue, a Philadelphia-based fellow B Corp that designs and sells apparel to support its beach and waterways cleanup activities. United by Blue have been cleaning beaches at an impressive rate (over 1 pound of debris removed per shirt sold), and we hope to source from them the plastics we can use for our Ocean Plastic bottles (resins number 2, 4, and 5). And our partner organizations in Hawaii continue to be instrumental in diverting the immense amount of plastic that washes up on their beaches from the landfill and into our bottles.
This week, we interviewed Brian Linton, who founded United By Blue in May 2010 as a way to help the world’s oceans and waterways in a more hands-on capacity. United By Blue sells awesome organic T-shirts, bags, and accessories; they organize their own cleanups so that for every product sold, United By Blue removes a pound of trash from oceans and waterways.
At Designed Good, we partner with people and companies who have found creative ways to blend awesome product design & social responsibility. I caught up with Brian to ask what it’s like to build a brand that means something a little extra.
KG: So we’ve read up on the origin story on your website. Specifically, I keep hearing something about 30 fish tanks in your room growing up. Could you elaborate a little on how and why you got started?
BL: It really started with growing up overseas. Growing up in Singapore really gave me access to different places and I was fortunate enough to get to travel to 40 countries before I got to college. I got to see the good the bad and the ugly when it came to waterways and oceans. In western Thailand, the water is pristine and beautiful. But it just wasn’t the case everywhere.
United By Blue: Recognizing the ocean as the ultimate playground is one thing. Keeping it fit for play is another. Which is why, for every product sold, United by Blue physically removes one pound of trash from oceans and waterways through company-hosted cleanups. This collection features tees and hoodies by the progressive brand.
Last Saturday volunteers converged to Washington D.C. to help clean up D.C.’s river, the Anacostia. The event was organized by apparel seller United By Blue (UBB) and sponsored by Subaru. Volunteers were supplied with refreshments and equipment to help remove part of the 20,000 tons of trash that is dumped on the river every year.
Despite the drizzly and cloudy weather, volunteers managed to remove almost two tons of trash from the river. UBB said among the curiosities pulled out from the river were a kids’ Spiderman sneaker, a green army man, a naked Barbie, a toy leg, a trash bag from a previous river cleanup, and a pipe smoking, Spiderman mask-donning, plastic jug filled with fresh flowers. The Anacostia River is 8.4 miles long and it’s been deemed “one of the most polluted waterways in the nation”.
The Subaru Outback was the official cleanup vehicle of the event. In April, Subaru of America and United By Blue picked up 7,248 pounds of trash from the Cooper River in Cherry Hill, NJ and has plans to host two additional cleanups this summer.
“We’ve hosted over 70 cleanups in two years and our Anacostia River cleanup has been one of the most memorable cleanups to date. Last year, we picked up almost 4,000 pounds of trash from along the river,” said Mike Cangi, UBB Director of Cleanups. “Now that we have our official cleanup vehicles, two Subaru Outbacks, I am confident we will be able to haul even more trash this time around.”
UBB’s sustainable business model involves combining every business transaction with an environmental action. Costumers can choose the action they want to support at the point of purchase, therefore sales of their products finance cleanups at waterways and beaches on an ongoing basis.
United By Blue Featured in Agenda’s Trade Show Recap Video
Check out eco-entrepreneur Brian Linton (United by Blue) and chief rocker Aaron LaCrate (Milkcrate Athletics) as they individually break down why their lines appeal to savvy consumers despite a saturated market in “Part 1” of our tradeshow coverage.
A Project on 5th Street in Surf City
By MARIA SCANDALE
When the shift changes after five o’clock, two companies have plans to get down to work – on the beach.
Everyone is invited to join in a beach cleanup at the 5th Street ocean beach in Surf City Thursday, July 26 from 5:30-7:30 p.m., held by Farias’ Surf & Sport and United By Blue. Volunteers should park in front of Farias’ store at 506 South Long Beach Blvd., and meet at the end of 5th Street. United By Blue and Farias’ will provide volunteers with everything needed to “give back and have fun:” gloves, bags, sunscreen, refreshments, and one-of-a-kind cleanup competitions.
After the cleanup, those taking part are invited to Farias’ Surf & Sport shop for snacks and a post-cleanup celebration.
“The beach means a lot to Farias’ Surf & Sport. Everything we do on this Island revolves around our love for the ocean,” said store manager Sarah Jordan. “By hosting a beach cleanup with UBB, we are helping to continue to keep our Island clean and healthy and support a lifestyle that accomplishes that.”
United By Blue is an ocean-friendly brand of apparel with a mission to remove a pound of trash from the ocean and waterways for every product sold. So far, the pound tally has surpassed 135,000 since 2010 when the company was created, said Mike Cangi, UBB director of cleanups.
Philanthropic Fashion Makes A Stylish Splash | by Mia Weber
This summer, check out these philanthropically fabulous finds to make a stylish splash while giving back all over the world!
For the conscious beach-goer: This season, eye-catching totes will surely be dotting the shores all over the East Coast and beyond. Take this opportunity to shine and make a difference with a sweetly sequined tote from United by Blue. This totally organic cotton carry-all – decked out in classic nautical tones – not only holds all the gear you need for a day by the water, but also benefits the ocean itself. For every single product they sell, United by Blue promises to remove a pound of trash from the deep blue sea.
By Jen A. Miller
When Brian Linton founded United by Blue in 2010, he didn’t just want to make shirts, bags and accessories inspired by harbor towns. He wanted to help those coastal environments too.
So he made a pledge: For every item the company sells, they’ll remove a pound of trash from oceans and waterways.
Since the beginning, the Jersey Shore has been a prime location for the company’s clean up events.
“It makes sense since most of us grew up going to the Jersey Shore, not to mention it’s so close to our headquarters,” says Leslie Weinberg, a United by Blue Clean Up Associate.
Most of their clean ups are partnerships between United by Blue, volunteers, and stores that sell United by Blue products. The events have become mini-parties, says Weinberg.
Rather than start an environmental group to clean up polluted water, scuba-diving aficionado Brian Linton started an apparel brand, United by Blue. For every product it sells, the company promises it will remove one pound of trash from waterways during cleanups it organizes. United by Blue’s measurable approach—it has removed more than 120,000 pounds since it launched in 2010—helps explain why it can charge $34 per T-shirt online and at retailers like Nordstrom (JWN). It also explains why Subaru and Sperry Top-Sider partnered with United by Blue to make co-branded apparel lines earlier this year. “[They] can position themselves in a much bigger way than they would be able to if they were simply donating to a nonprofit,” says Linton. “They [have] a great story to tell their consumers.”—NL