By now, everyone knows the ocean is terrifyingly close to having more plastic garbage than it does fish. Norton Point's solution? Use that plastic junk to make dope sunglasses.
This Wednesday, as part of World Oceans Day, Norton Point will launch their first line of sunglasses made from recovered consumer ocean plastics as part of their #SeaPlasticDifferently campaign. With plastic collected from Haiti, the glasses not only look cool, but promote sustainable business practices.
Elite Daily had a chance to speak with Ryan Schoenike about the process of developing a product from our plastic waste and growing an eco-friendly company.
After linking up with a college buddy in March of last year, Schoenike and his partner came up with the idea to source ocean plastic for a unique line of eyewear. But despite the shocking amount of garbage in our marine ecosystem, he admits gathering it wasn't as easy as they expected, saying,
One of the issues we had found early on was that ocean plastic is this big problem and it's really prevalent, but it's really hard to get a hold of some ocean plastic. There just aren't people that are collecting it. Certainly, there are beach cleanups that happen a lot and stuff like that, but nobody's collecting the material, sorting through it and then either saving it or processing it in a way that allows you to turn it into a product.
After spending a few months figuring out how to overcome that initial hurdle, they discovered a plastic collection company in Haiti called the Plastic Bank. Schoenike says,
They work with local communities and local collectors on the ground in Haiti to make sure that they receive a fair wage or a living wage for the plastic they collect.
Right away, they began building a partnership and testing samples. From there, they developed a relationship with the Ocean Conservancy, an organization that happened to be looking for an opportunity to unload the plastic they pick up as part of their extensive cleanup operation. As Schoenike explains,
Our goal is to create fashionable, high-quality eyewear to prove that people will buy that eyewear and show the value in ocean plastic. Another issue is that we're not collecting it because there's no perceived value in it. It's much more expensive to use and it's a lot harder to process. But, we're hoping by showing that people will make the choice to buy... the ocean plastic pair over the other ones.
Beyond reusing plastic waste, Norton Point plans to invest in the communities they collect from as well. The company plans to reinvest five percent of the proceeds to education, cleanup and mediation activities. And while this first line of sunglasses isn't manufactured from 100 percent ocean plastic (as that would be nearly impossible, says Schoenike), the company plans to invest in innovation so each new line will incorporate increasing amounts of plastic waste.
Because the Norton Point team has invested so much time and energy into researching plastic waste, we asked how we could be doing better to prevent the problem in the first place. Beyond ditching plastic water bottles in favor of reusable ones, Schoenike says,
Consumers have power to demand the companies they buy from be more responsible in thinking about their plastic footprint.
And on an everyday level, Schoenike says plastic straws are something we typically forget about but can be easily avoided to lessen our footprint.
In keeping with the sustainable approach, Norton Point will offer an end-of-life buy back program so if anything is ever wrong with your glasses, the company will buy them back and offer 10 percent off the next pair. And that's how it comes full circle.