Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know there’s a horrifying amount of plastic waste floating in the world’s oceans: around eight million metric tonnes of the stuff. And if things continue as they are, it’s predicted that by 2050 there will be more of it than fish in the sea.
Our single use plastic usage is declining thanks to plastic bag taxes and the rise of reusable coffee cups and water bottles, but it’s still a massive problem. And while recycling is not the definitive answer, it’s certainly going to help.
Jumping on this bandwagon are many clothing brands who are tapping into our new-found consciousness for the environment. But it’s not all cynicism, as many of these companies are surf brands who see the problem first hand on our beaches, coastlines and in the oceans and want to fight back to save the ecosystem they love.
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The most common type of recycled plastic is PET bottles. To be re-used, it’s sorted, cleaned and stripped of labels and caps, melted down into little pellets and then spun into a yarn that’s used to make garments.
From swimwear and snow wear to jumpers and backpacks, here’s our tried and tested roundup of the companies who are making something useful out of all of our plastic waste, and saving it from landfill.
Batoko cockatoo swimsuit: £40, Batoko
Having already recycled the equivalent weight of 220,000 plastic bottles, Batoko uses collected ocean waste to make its gorgeous swimsuits, which come in just nine bold designs in a bid to also combat the perils of fast fashion. All of the British brand’s incredible prints are created digitally which saves water and energy and produces little waste, while also using non-toxic inks. Of course, everything is packaged and delivered in compostable bags too, giving them extra brownie points. Our favourite is the cockatoo print that’s just made for holidays on tropical beaches. Each suit is lined, with a low scoop back and a medium cut leg. The brand has recently – after popular demand – brought back its children’s range too.
Lefrik multi wash bag: £17.50, Lefrik
This Spanish brand has been making bags out recycled PET bottles since 2012 and pride themselves on being functional, fashionable and eco-friendly. If you need them to tick anymore boxes, they’re also vegan too (and Peta approved). This entirely waterproof wash bag – great for travelling and any spillages that might occur while doing so – has four separate removable compartments, easily attached by poppers, which is great if you only want to use part of it. We also liked that it could be hung up with the top loop to make it more easily accessible for travelling.
Brothers We Stand recycled sweatshirt: £35, Brother We Stand
Proving being ethical doesn’t put a stop to fashionable menswear is Brother We Stand. As well as sourcing and selling other ethical and sustainable menswear brands on its website and in its Bristol store, including Elis & Kresse and Jollie’s socks, it also has its own label.
Every product from Brothers We Stand has a transparent footprint and are Soil Association accredited. Using a blend of recycled cotton and PET bottles, the crewneck sweatshirts feature classic ribbed cuffs and a fleecy inner, wihch are created from waste cuttings that are shredded and turned back into reusable fibres. It’s an easily wearable jumper that quickly becomes a wardrobe staple.
Kanken Fjall Raven backpack: £67.49, Surfdome
What started as a simple school bag in Sweden in 1978 designed to help the backs of school children carrying lots of books, has become a well-loved design recognised around the world. It’s now sold in a huge array of colours and fabrics, and this special edition is made from 11 recycled plastic bottles. It is also dyed using “spindye” which uses much less water than the traditional way of dying materials.
O’Neill Blue hybrid mesh leggings, £59.99, O’neill
O’Neills founder and Californian surfer, Jack O’Neil, is often credited as creating the wetsuit and never shying away from innovation, O’Neill has had an eco-friendly active wear line since 2017, “Our Ocean Blue”. All of these items are made using recycled bottles and have been created with the help of New York brand, Bionic, who create the threads from plastic recovered from beaches. The first line of clothing in the range is estimated to have recovered 200,000 bottles from beaches and shorelines worldwide.
And staying true to the brand’s form, most of the items come in a range of amazing prints and colours, with matching leggings and sports bras. They’re stretchy, comfy and can be used for most activities from yoga to running, as well as casual wear if you’re not working out.
Picture Organic treva snow pants: £144.49, Surfdome
Set up by three snow and skate-mad school friends in France in 2008, Picture Organic has been sustainability focused since the very start. All of its products – designed for skiing, skating, surfing and outdoors – are either made from recycled plastic, organic cotton or material scraps that would otherwise be burned, which are all responsibly sourced and free of harmful chemicals, too.
These lightweight pants are pretty technical: we especially like the snow skirt, the leg vents and the fact they’re vegan. We also like the design of the slim fit style, but they do come up pretty snug, so think about going up a size. Available in five colours with matching jackets, too.
Riley Studio oversized hoody: £90, Riley Studio
Riley Studio uses a range of materials either made from waste or recycled nylon from plastic bottles and even use a material and can be recycled an infinite amount of times, keeping it from landfill.
Made in Portugal with a mixture of recycled plastic bottles and cotton, this oversized hoody keeps materials from landfill and reduces the carbon footprint production of the item by 75 per cent. We love its baggy fit and super soft fleece feel on the inside, and that it’s a gender neutral hoody that’s also available in reversed colours.
Quicksilver high line boardshorts: £19.99, Surfdome
As one of the original surf brands, hailing from Australia in 1969, Quicksilver are best known for its surfing essential board shorts – and these are the modern day version. Teaming up with Repreve and using its recycled PET nylon, around nine bottles go into each pair of shorts, which has so far used more than 109 million bottles – and counting – since starting in January 2012.
Choose from 42 different designs, but expect all the normal features, the v-shaped waist, tie fastening and fast drying.
Patagonia down sweater jacket: £200, Patagonia
For the founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, it had always been about sustainability. And that’s why its classic down sweater jackets are made from 100 per cent recycled poylester. It’s also made with goose down for the best insulation, but Patagonia promises to use only traceable non-live plucked feathers. The brand has also remodelled its long-sleeve logo tee – renamed the responsibility-tee – each of which is now made from 4.8 plastic bottles.
Planks good times ltd editon eco snow jacket: £139.99, Surfdome
Founded by Jim Adlington, an ex-professional British skier, who designs kit for free skiing (freestyle skiing with jumps and obstacles), everything by this brand is made for skiers, by skiers. This limited edition eco jacket is made entirely from recycled bottles, using a recycled yarn which comes from Repreve – the world’s leading recycled yarn manufacturer – which has already recycled 10bn bottles, and aims to do the same again by 2020.
The jacket has a waterproof rating of 15,000mm (high enough to withstand moderate range and average snow) is breathable, has fully taped seams to keep out water, has pit zips, a helmet compatible hood, a powder skirt with large front and side pockets. We love the relaxed fit too. It’s a durable, reliable jacket that will see you through season after season.
Verdict: Clothes made from recycled plastic
We love the Batoko swimsuit for many reasons: its amazing print, great cut, using plastic waste from the ocean and the fact it’s has a limited number of designs and is against fast fashion. It’s comfy and you’ll get loads of compliments about it, too. We also really love the credentials of Picture Organic for its true dedication to sustainability, from the company’s birth and its great designs.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.
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