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These Friendship Bracelets Are Made From Ocean Plastic and Seized Illegal Firearms


Why Global Citizens Should Care 
To achieve the UN’s Global Goals, we need every single person to be thinking about the impact of their actions — whether they’re a fashion designer, an entrepreneur, or a consumer. Join the movement by taking action here to help end extreme poverty. 

British sustainable accessories brand Bottletop has launched a brand new campaign to utilise fashion in raising awareness about the UN’s Global Goals and ending extreme poverty. 

The #TOGETHERBAND campaign hinges on 17 brightly coloured and sustainably designed friendship bracelets — that perfectly coordinate with the colours of each of the 17 Global Goals. 

The idea is that you pick the bracelet that corresponds to the goal closest to your heart — and you get a free one to share with someone you love and help spread the word about the goals. 

Take action: Call on Businesses to #UnplasticthePlanet by Reducing Their Plastic Packaging Waste

The campaign aims to engage over a billion people with the Global Goals, in partnership with the UN Foundation, WWF, Project Everyone, Eco Age, Global Citizen, and founding partner UBS. 

And it’s backed by some very famous faces — including supermodel Doutzen Kroes, actress and UN ambassador Michelle Yeoh, and WWF Conservation Director Prof. Catherine Ndegwa. 

Richard Curtis, film director and founder of Project Everyone, said the bracelets are “bright, fashionable, and, so importantly, give livelihoods to the women who make them.” 

He added: “The #TOGETHERBAND campaign represents the future that we’re all fighting for.” 

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The campaign launched on April 22, to coincide with World Earth Day, and it’s all about using creativity and culture to raise public awareness about the Global Goals — and to inspire action to achieve them. 

“At Bottletop, we have always believed in the power of sustainable design and creative culture to engage people powerfully in development issues,” said Cameron Saul, co-founder of Bottletop.

“Through #TOGETHERBAND we are thrilled to combine artisanal craftsmanship with the immediacy and reach of social media to facilitate a cross-cultural conversation around the Global Goals as we engage everyone who wants to come together for a healthy future,” he said. 

@Doutzen Kroes: model, activist and ambassador for @knotonmyplanet on why she's joining #TOGETHERBAND: 'I grew up interested in conservation: we were conscious of the water and the plastic we used and we always ate from our own garden. But it was when I took my son on safari to Kenya and learned about the elephant poaching crisis that I knew I had to do something. For the first time in my life I felt that I had job with a purpose. I could use my connections to make people aware and raise money to help solve it. I wanted to support every #GlobalGoal but I had to pick one so I picked Goal 15 Life on Land because of my work for KOMP and because I care so passionately these majestic creatures with such complex emotions. We need to work together and raise our voices to ensure our kids live on a healthy planet.' Photographed with the #TOGETHERBAND Tapestry in NY by @jeromeduran at @springstudios.

A post shared by #TOGETHERBAND (@togetherbandofficial) on

There are 17 sustainably and ethically produced friendship bracelets in the colours of the goals — with each of the bracelets made entirely from upcycled ocean plastic from Costa Rica, and recycled steel from seized illegal firearm metal in El Salvador. 

What’s more, the production of the bracelets is generating skills and livelihoods for the women who work as artisans at the Bottletop workshop in Nepal — and 100% of the profits are being put towards funding life-changing projects working to advance the goals. 

Bottletop was initially founded back in 2002 as a charity, by co-founders Cameron Saul and Oliver Wayman. For the first 10 years, it was a purely non-profit organisation — before the founders realised that to scale up their impact through livelihood creation, they needed to be using a for-profit structure.

Even now, however, the Bottletop Foundation — Bottletop’s charitable arm — is at the heart of everything Bottletop does, according to Saul, supporting health education and vocational training projects in Brazil, Kenya, Bali, and Nepal. 

Screen Shot 2019-04-23 at 18.08.14.pngImage: Bottletop/Felicity Ingram

But the name Bottletop was originally inspired after Saul came across a single bag while in Uganda.

After Saul left school, he volunteered with the organisation Restless Development, and spent nine months teaching in a secondary school in the south east of Uganda. 

“I was blown away by the work that I was involved with, and was really inspired to want to continue supporting these health education projects,” he told Global Citizen. 

“At the end of the time that I spent living in the village, I came across a bag made from upcycled metal tops from glass bottles, that the girl who I was living and teaching with brought back from the craft market,” he continued.

“I immediately loved the design and could see how there was potential to really sell the product and develop the product, and that’s where the name Bottletop came from,” he said. “From this humble but beautiful pop art design.” 

From there, Saul developed the product and launched it through a global design collaboration with Mulberry — keeping the materials used in it 100% upcycled.

“It was that combination of sustainable design through a cross-cultural lens, and executed in a way that was empowering local artisans and enabling us to raise funds for health education, that was really the DNA for everything that we’ve done ever since,” Saul continued. 

“What we’ve worked to do over the years is to build a brand that truly reflects our values, and our approach of having impact in the world through sustainable design,” he said. “And so working not only to create a beautiful product, but also create a beautiful brand around that that enables us to be consistent in our sharing of that appreciation of culture, quality, and sustainable design.” 

The 17-month #TOGETHERBAND campaign counts down each of the 17 goals, one by one, up to the UN General Assembly in Sept. 2020. 

By that point, there will be just 10 years left to achieve the goals, if we’re to hit the target of ending extreme poverty by 2030. 

The campaign will be launching one goal every month until then, through a combination of live events and digital activations — including inviting leading artists to help explore the issues encompassed by the Global Goals. 

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On top of that, the campaign also features the #TOGETHERBAND Voices, to tell the stories of extraordinary people working to advance the Global Goals at a grassroots level through a series of 17 short documentary films.

The campaign launch began with Global Goal 15 for the protection of life on land — a light green bracelet in case you were wondering. The documentary tells the story of Jose De Araujo, a wild rubber tapper living in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. 

As well as ocean plastic and recycled firearms metal, Bottletop’s artisans use sustainablybsourced wild rubber and zero deforestation leather to create their designs — in line with the Global Goals for creating sustainable cities and communities (Goal 11) and responsible consumption and production (Goal 12). 

“I think consciousness and awareness around these issues, around the fragility of the planet, and the impact of people’s daily purchasing decisions and choices is growing massively,” added Saul.

“Coupled with that is an awareness,” he told us. “People are looking for brands with authenticity who are being considerate and considered in their approach to sourcing and production, and who are bringing solutions to the complex issues that we’re facing.” 

Screen Shot 2019-04-23 at 18.38.23.pngImage: Bottletop/Felicity Ingram

And we couldn’t help asking him about what global citizenship means to him too, of course. 

“Global citizenship for me is about making conscious choices, whether or not we’re fortunate enough to have had a good education, or to go through school, we all have a duty to arm ourselves as best as possible with real information and knowledge about what’s happening in the world,” he said. 

“And wherever possible within our circles, working to contribute to our immediate communities or global communities on whatever level we can,” he added. “Whether that’s supporting friends and family, or beyond that, looking at how we can have a positive impact on our wider communities and planet.”