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Ban on plastic is fueling new luxury accessories and fashion alternatives

By Don-Alvin Adegeest


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Fashion |OPINION

Last week, while on holiday in Ibiza, the gin tonic I ordered at the quiet end of a beach club on Playa d’en Bossa was served with a bamboo straw. A sustainable, recyclable straw I was told, that sees the ban against plastic going global from Seattle to London to, well, Ibiza.

According to Coastal Care, humans have made enough plastic since the second world war to coat the Earth entirely in clingfilm, an international study revealed. Over half of the world’s sea turtles and seabirds have ingested plastic. The sheer horror of the statistics and damage of this man-made material is both disheartening in its scale and impossible to clean up.

But plastic facts aside, leading luxury companies and accessory designers are offering fancy versions of straws. Take for example American jeweler Tiffany & Co’s rose gold vermeil or sterling silver options, which cost between 250 and 300 US dollars. “As plastic waste continues to pose a serious threat to our oceans, we’re proud to offer these enduring and finely crafted precious metal straws as an ocean-friendly alternative for sipping in style,” Tiffany’s chief sustainability officer Anisa Kamadoli Costa told WWD.

According to Nylon magazine, accessories brand Miansai is offering a brass and copper option, which it labels as “artisanal straws.” These retail for 100 US dollars, but a new solid gold iteration, currently in design-phase, could retail up to a pricey 1,000 dollars. Sustainability comes with luxury price tags.

It is not just jewelers who are seizing the backlash on plastic to offer sustainable alternatives. This week Adidas revealed it made jerseys and football kit out of recycled ocean plastic for the Real Madrid team. Adidas is a long-time collaborator with Parley for the Oceans and first unveiled a pair of sports shoes made from recycled ocean waste in 2015

H&M recycles millions of PET bottles to create recycled polyester for its clothing. The company says recycled material still has a lot more potential and currently represents only 1 percent of its total material use, a figure "that we expect to increase as we move closer to a closed loop for textiles in the coming years."

Plastic bottles are recycled into clothing trims

Spanish fashion brand Ecoalf has recycled more than 70 million plastic bottles. The company recycles plastic bottles to obtain plastic flakes which, through a mechanical process are converted into rough polyester spun fiber. As a result, fiber is manipulated to obtain the best final quality and the recycled yarn is then used to develop products like fabrics, straps, labels, laces and other trims.

According to Fashion Revolution, 150 billion items of clothing are delivered out of factories annually yet Americans alone throw away approximately 14 million tonnes of garments each year, that’s over 36 kg per person. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 84 percent of unwanted clothes in the United States in 2012 went into either a landfill or an incinerator. Ouch.

Photo credit:Tiffany gold straw, source Tiffany website

Tiffany & Co.