Our mission is to convert plastic water bottles into fabric to launch our own apparel brand. Our goal is to live in a world where all synthetic fibers are produced from recycled goods – we want to see the day when our customers walk into every store with this assumption. We want to reinvent what people think is normal.
We will make this fabric available for wholesale so that businesses can switch to designing with this type of fabric without having to produce their own outside the US. Over time, we hope our method of producing synthetic fabric changes the mindset of the textile and fashion industry.
We hope you see what we see in this project, because it will be revolutionary. This is a model we must instill for future generations - this must be the new norm.
1. What is the problem we are addressing?
America is facing a recycling crisis and most people are not aware of the gravity of this issue. Many recycled goods are no longer accepted by China and unfortunately end up in landfills. China’s new laws will displace 111 million metric tons of plastic by 2030, which has already started causing problems for our cities’ waste management infrastructure. This is troubling because we have made great strides to promote recycling.
Our team’s challenge and solution is to give these plastic water bottles a new purpose through fabric.
Other companies that are addressing this issue have chosen to go outside of the United States to collect recyclables because resources and labor are cheaper. However, this makes their carbon footprint immense. Customers believe they are buying a product that is helping the environment without realizing where their clothing came from and what journey it had to make. We want to create a method of recycling that is local to the city in which the recyclables are collected.
2. What makes us different?
What makes our fabric different is that it is made in the USA. All recyclables used in this project will be locally sourced. In comparison, other companies source recyclable materials from outside of our country.
We are at the forefront of a movement - companies are starting to produce apparel made from recycled goods. However, the majority of consumers aren't buying this type of product and most apparel companies don't have easy access to this type of fabric. This is what needs to change. This type of fabric production must be the new norm. This is what our generation needs.
3. What are we working on?
We have designed and created our own single screw extrusion machine! The machine melts plastic chips (from old plastic bottles) and extrudes a filament that will be woven into fabric. We are currently in the research and development stage. We want to understand how modifications to our machine, newly-designed parts, and changes in machine settings can alter the mechanical properties of the filament produced.
4. How will we help Baltimore?
Baltimore is a city that can save millions by recycling. It is a city that only recycles 16% of it’s materials. We will start collecting resources from our campus and the surrounding community, in hopes of addressing more of the city each year.
We will work with athletic programs at Johns Hopkins and Baltimore schools to provide their athletes with new athletic wear. We want students to feel proud about wearing a high-quality product made in their own city. We will feature local athletes as our models through social media. We want to uplift this age group and recognize their accomplishments.
This will be a movement that shakes this city from the ground up.
5. Smart Recycling
We want to be at the forefront of smart recycling. We not only want to recycle, but we want to understand our cities. We want to map out popular recycling locations and create an interactive website/app so that people can get involved in our process. Users would be rewarded for how many recyclables they contributed. We believe that an interactive, fun, money-earning app like this would encourage consumers to recycle in a new way. This way, we believe we can create a relationship with our users and customers – a relationship consumers have lost when throwing away waste.