Lauren Choi, the founder of The New Norm, came up with the idea to create a machine that transforms plastic into fabric in the summer of 2019. She then spent three months building an extrusion machine in her garage. The machine was designed to recycle plastic into a filament that can be woven into fabric.
When Lauren returned to Johns Hopkins University, where she was a Material Science and Engineering major, she formed a team of undergraduate students. As with college students, what was the most accessible plastic at hand? The Solo cup. Out of curiosity, Lauren and her team put a single red Solo cup through the machine. It worked perfectly. Her project then became a Johns Hopkins University wide recognized Design Team.
After recently graduating this past May, Lauren is now pursuing this venture full time and is scaling up her technology so that Solo cups can be recycled on a larger scale. This summer will be dedicated to lab testing. The New Norm hopes to one day set up recycling programs at college campuses all over the US.
Summer 2019: working in the garage
Our Mission Statement
We aim to revolutionize the fashion industry with our signature fabric made from recycled Solo cups.
We envision giving the 7.4 billion Solo cups that are used annually in the US a new purpose. Most recycling centers in the US don’t even accept high impact polystyrene, which is the material Solo cups are made of. Thus, our project greatly extends the life of this single-use plastic.
Our long-term plan is to expand beyond our own college campus, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and set up recycling programs at other colleges all across the US.