What if something you wear was actually good for the ocean? That’s exactly what Fourth Element’s Ocean Positive line of clothing aims to do, by turning ocean trash into useful, comfortable, fashionable clothing.
OceanPositive swimwear and rashguards are made using recycled nylon from fishing nets that have been abandoned by fishing vessels – usually nets that are snagged on reef, wrecks, or otherwise discarded or lost at sea. Their concept reverses the traditional “Cradle to Grave” product development model to deliver a “Grave to Cradle” solution, producing a unique, environmentally-beneficial product designed by divers, made from marine waste, and sourced by divers.
“Ghost Nets” (fishing nets that have been left or lost in the ocean by fishermen) in the oceans amount to over 600,000 tonnes – or about 1,322,760,000 pounds – every year. The main hazard of the abandoned nets is to marine life, everything from invertebrates to large marine mammals. The nets continue to fish, long after they have been abandoned, and account for countless deaths in the ocean. The durable nylon netting is very slow to degrade in the ocean and in addition to trapping sea life, it can scrub coral, creating a desolate seascape where they are dragged over the reef by shifting currents.
Now, all over the world, dive teams are removing these Ghost Nets from the wrecks and reefs, often at great depths, and bringing them up to the surface where they can be recycled and spun into nylon yarn. This yarn is then used to produce Fourth Element’s OceanPositive products.
Fourth Element uses fabric made from ECONYL® (the recycled yarn), combined with Lycra® to make a line of active swimwear.
“We meet divers from all over the world who are passionate about the health of the oceans. This is a product designed for them: one which is genuinely good for our environment and helps to clean up our seas”, says Jim Standing, co-founder of Fourth Element. The products even have an endorsement from Sylvia Earle, who said “This is a fantastic idea, [one which] demonstrates what we can, and should, do for the oceans”.
In additional to being practical and environmentally-friendly, Fourth Element’s OceanPositive line products are designed to look great and be comfortable, and designed to comfortable wear under a wetsuit. For example, some bikini styles have no clasps, others have a single clasp or tie. Their simple, minimalist designs are flattering and comfortable, with several padded styles available.
Marine Biologist and underwater photographer sums up the problem of plastic waste in the ocean, underscoring the need for solutions for the problem:
“Waste plastic is a big problem in the ocean. And I can assure you that almost all of it comes from land. It comes from us. When lots of people make small changes to their lifestyles and choices, big things happen. None of us can completely stop using plastic. But we can use it more responsibly. It is about little things. We can make sure that we always carry reusable shopping bags – not just to the supermarket, but to others shops too. And it is about recycling the plastic we do use. Of course, it is hugely valuable when people and organizations make big efforts, but when everyone makes a small change it adds up to something even greater.”