We are at the beginning of an environmental revolution. The scope of the problem is large, but so is the growing commitment to changing the ways we consume and dispose.
Ocean plastic is a devastating form of pollution, but through innovation and conservation, we can clean up the messes of the past and avoid creating more in the future. Welcome to a new era of turning pollution into fashion.
Plastic Pollution—How Did We Get Here?
Plastic was introduced to the world after WWII as a wonderful product that we could simply discard after use. This material made of chemically altered petroleum products changed everything from packaging to food storage to fabric. In 1950, 1.5 million metric tons of plastic were created.
Consumers were delighted with the new materials and production expanded each year, reaching a staggering 359 million metric tons in 2018.
Much of that production was of single-use plastics like bottles and bags that are immediately discarded after. 8 million tons of that discarded plastic is dumped into the ocean every day. The convenience of plastic comes at a great cost. Plastic does not return to a state that is beneficial to the environment. Instead, it sits in landfills and floats in our oceans. It fouls our waters, damages ecosystems, and harms marine life. A single plastic bottle can take between 450 and 1000 years to fully degrade.
Some plastics never degrade. Some of that plastic forms massive “plastic islands” where ocean plastic pollution swirls together, becoming giant floating garbage dumps.
In just 70 years plastic has gone from a novel new material for storing leftovers to a pervasive societal menace filling our oceans with pollutants that will last centuries.
Ocean Plastic Damage to Marine and Human Life
Plastic breaks into smaller and smaller particles as it is affected by ocean waves and seawater and the particles invade every portion of the ecosystem. Those tiny pieces, called microplastics, also attract chemical water pollutants, making them even more harmful.
Microplastics are so small (less than 5 millimeters in diameter) that they settle into and mix with ocean plants. They are mistaken for food and ingested by fish and other sea creatures, becoming a part of the food chain.
Plastics and their associated toxins have been linked to everything from cancer to endocrine disruption.
The plastic we throw away comes back to us as toxins in our food.
Marine animals suffer enormously from plastic pollution. Every level of the ocean ecosystem is infected with tiny particles of plastic laced with additional toxins.
We also see direct effects, with animals perishing from consuming plastic trash. Leatherback turtles, the largest species of turtle averaging a weight of 1000 pounds, die by the hundreds each year with guts filled with plastic waste. Over 1000 sea turtles of a variety of species die yearly after consuming plastic waste or becoming entangled in discarded plastic and drowning.
Other sea animals choke on the plastic used to hold canned soft drinks, and sea mammals and birds drown or are strangled after becoming tangled in discarded fishing lines and nets.
Marine life, from small birds to huge whales, ingests plastic pollution. The plastic fills their stomachs and creates a false sense of fullness. The animals eventually starve with guts filled with plastic. It is estimated that up to one million sea birds die each year from ingesting plastic.
Every single water bottle we buy and throw away contributes to the problem. We simply cannot continue to use the oceans as a garbage dump.
How Can We Help?
When we read about ocean plastic it is easy to fall into despair and apathy, thinking that there is nothing that can be done to fix such a monumental problem. But there are things that we can do, every single one of us. The first step is to reduce our plastic use. Everything from forgoing single-use bottles and bags to reusing the plastic we already own over and over can help. Choosing non-plastic alternatives for food storage, water bottles, and even drinking straws reduces the burden on our oceans.
But there are more solutions to plastic pollution, and they depend on industries, like the fashion industry, committing to innovative practices that not only stop contributing to the problem but also actively decrease ocean plastic pollution. Ocean plastic can be removed from the environment and repurposed using existing and emerging technology. The challenge we face is a combination of stopping the influx of ocean plastic and finding ways to remove and use the existing pollution.
That is exactly what Lumière Paris is doing. We are using a luxury fabric made from ocean plastic and other discarded waste to create beautiful garments. That fabric is made of ECONYL® yarn.
ECONYL®—Yarn for Sustainable Fashion
Most clothing brands use synthetic fabrics like polyester for swimwear, activewear, and more. They also produce their products in China, Vietnam, and other countries without standards for reducing environmental harm. Yet they are still charging premium prices for their apparel.
At Lumière Paris we make our luxury fabrics and garments in the heart of Italy, using a cutting-edge fabric made from discarded waste and created using environmentally sustainable practices.
ECONYL® fiber is a revolutionary yarn created using nylon from ocean plastic and discarded industrial plastic waste. That nylon is purified and processed back into its original form. This process can be done, again and again, making ECONYL® fiber a closed-loop product. When a garment is ready for disposal it can be made directly into more ECONYL® fiber.
ECONYL® fiber is created using a sustainable system and our garment manufacturers have adopted the same strict standards of environmental stewardship and sustainability while maintaining the high-quality look and feel you expect from luxury apparel.
Leading the Way
Lumière Paris is part of a growing movement to transform the fashion industry from polluter to protector. We strive to challenge the entire industry to examine its manufacturing, source materials, and the overall environmental and social footprint of fashion.
Our world is changing. We are becoming more aware of the impact of our decisions and we are becoming conscious consumers. Lumière Paris is pushing boundaries in the fashion industry, creating a new model and setting a new standard for others to follow.
We invite you to join us as we create a luxury fashion community that cares about the environment and believes in making a positive contribution to the world.