We know there are so many companies doing great things to repurpose waste that we wanted to highlight them and the great things they do by featuring them in a mini blog series about repurposing! Our first interview is with Subs, we wanted to talk to them because of the great effort they are doing to help clean up our oceans by turning ocean waste into iconic Kiwi footwear.
Waste is already a messy business and repurposing waste can be harder still especially as it’s not a clean and regular resource to work. But if there aren’t companies like Subs and us to help repurpose and upcycle waste into new and innovative products we are relying on existing systems like recycling and hoping us humans may one day decided to change our ingrained habits.
We chatted to Andrew from Subs and asked him a few questions to learn more about Subs and what he has to say about sustainability.
Andrew and his brother Justin were already involved in the footwear industry. Growing up they saw the effects that plastic pollution had on marine life in the east coast of NZ where they lived on the family farm. Additionally, through social media they saw the global impact that plastic was having on our ocean, this sparked them to wonder ‘if it was possible to take recycled plastic and turn it into jandals and it is!’
Initially it took them some time to find a factory that would let them use the machines they required as they said ‘its dirtier than virgin plastics.’ However, through their process, Andrew and Justin have found it ‘rewarding to be using something that was once trash or heading that way.’ Their biggest challenge in this process has been finding a manufacturer who go execute their vision, whilst trying to keep capital costs lower as generally, ‘this kind of jandals' moulds are much pricier than the rubber equivalents’. This process took them longer than they expected ‘and for a while, it looked like it might not be possible!’
Want to be more sustainable? Andrew shared his top tips with us.
- Think of the lifecycle of the product, and the materials that they are made from before purchase. ‘If something is made from upcycled or repurposed materials that is great but it really needs to be further upcyclable otherwise what's the point?’
- Use glass bottles of water instead of plastic.
- Aim to use reusable products for long periods of time. ‘Anything that's reusable for a long time or upcyclable is far superior to one use items unless they're easily biodegradable, paper/hemp/cotton etc’
Andrew’s sustainability icon is Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd, and here's why…
‘I watched the doco 'Eco-Pirate' and thought it was brilliant, they also get a lot of fishing nets from their voyages that we could use in an upcoming project, hint. Also, a kiwi one would have to be Lucy Lawless, total badass. I'd say they're more eco-warriors than champions of sustainability per se.’
Want to start your own repurposing business? Subs share their secret to a successful repurposing business: ‘Do it. Start small see if it works then upscale’.
‘The ocean produces about half of the oxygen we breathe.’ It is important then to ensure our marine life is protected and water is clean and fresh. Hence, Subs believes that ‘there is more that can still be done, we need more companies out there working to repurpose and upcycle’.
Subs has received global support allowing them to remove 42,584kg of trash from the ocean last year! In the next 5 years they hope to ‘remove around 1000 tonnes of ocean trash every year.’
What an amazing business they have! It’s great to hear more about their journey and the amazing impact they are having on the environment.
‘By wearing subs you're literally taking steps for the ocean. Every pair sold funds the removal of half a kg from the ocean.’
If you’re looking for your next pair of jandals check out Subs they have a great range plus how good would it feel to know you’ve saved half a kg of trash from the ocean?