It seems that recycled plastic is all the rage these days.
Last year, Adidas released a line of shoes made almost entirely from recycled ocean plastic, and plans to produce 1 million more of these shoes in 2017. Now, Timberland is joining in on the party, creating a new line of shoes, backpacks, and shirts, made from recycled trash from Haiti.
Even better? They’re also creating local jobs at the same time.
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Timberland teamed up with Thread International, a fabric company with a mission of corporate social responsibility, to create the line of apparel.
More than 1,300 people collected plastic bottles and sold them to 50 Haitian-owned collection centers, according to Fast Company. This removed more than 700,000 plastic bottles from Haiti’s streets and canals.
“Jobs cure poverty,” the CEO and founder of Thread, Ian Rosenberger said in a video released by the company. “This fabric creates jobs.”
“That’s the future of apparel. It has to be useful, it has to look awesome, and it also has to have a purpose,” he said.
For the Timberland line, Thread collected recycled plastic in both Haiti and Honduras, two of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere.
According to the CIA World Factbook, 80% of Haitians live below the poverty line, and 54% of Haitians live in “abject poverty,” making it one of the poorest countries in the entire world.
After the bottles are collected, they are sent to a processing plant where they are broken down into plastic flakes. The plastic flakes are spun into a fabric that can then be turned into canvas shoes or bags.
Along with Adidas, Timberland is one of the companies on the front lines of making the apparel industry more sustainable. By 2020, the company wants all products to include at least one component made from recycled materials; plans to eliminate completely the use of harmful PVC materials; and has an initiative to plant 10 million trees.
It seems only fitting for a company whose brand logo is literally a tree.