VEGAN SUEDE... What exactly is it?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know there’s a horrifying amount of plastic waste floating in the world’s oceans: around eight million metric tonnes. And if things continue as they are, it’s predicted that by 2050 there will be more of it than fish in the sea! We all saw the whale in BBC’s Blue Planet II eating plastic and the sea turtle tangled in bags and cried! What have we been doing to our planet!
Our single-use plastic addiction is declining thanks to plastic bag taxes and the rise of reusable coffee cups and water bottles, but it’s still a massive problem. While recycling doesn’t solve everything, it’s certainly going to help – especially if plastic is fished out of the sea to be reused.
One of those re-used materials is silky soft-to-touch fabric, in which yarn is woven into a super strong and grippy material! They call it ‘vegan suede’ and it is actually fabric made from selected recycled PET bottles! It’s so strong and versatile it is already being used as an eco-friendly and non-animal suede alternative for clothing and bags. It also recycles a lot of waste bottles that would otherwise be in landfill and re-creates something beautiful. We wanted to re-purpose what is already out there and keep it from our oceans! So how does it all happen? Let us show you! It’s Amazing!
It all starts when you toss a PET bottle into your recycling bin… These bottles are sorted and bundled together into large bales. The bales are then taken to the PET recycling facility where they are sterilized clean with water and steam, the labels and caps are removed, and the bottles are separated by colour (the clear bottles will produce a white yarn and the green bottles produce a green yarn).
They are dried and crushed into small chips so they are completely free of harmful foaming agents and plasticizers. The chips go through a heating process that allows them to pass through the spinneret until they end up being wound up like yarn threads in spools.
The fibres are drawn into smooth strings, and then go through a crimping machine which will give the polyester yarns the fluffy woolly texture. Our toppers are printed on white yarn, using water-based inks, no nasty oils and chemicals that oil based inks produce.
10 plastic bottles = 1 pound of polyester fibre.
1 ton (2000) lbs of plastic bottles recycled saves 3.8 barrels of oil.
1 million plastic bottles recycled saves 250 barrels of oil.
1 million plastic bottles recycled eliminates 180 metric tons of CO2 emissions from being released into the atmosphere.
Recycling plastic bottles takes 8 times less energy than to produce an equivalent amount of new ones.
Why water-based ink?
The simple answer is: It looks as good as other types of ink, it feels better to the touch, it's better for the environment, it's cleaner and it's easier to both use and to clean up! Our artworks are all printed using water-based inks.
Water-based inks are, as you’d expect, made with water. Unlike plastisol inks, water-based inks don’t contain PVC. This means they are eco-friendly and work a bit differently than other inks. They are of beautiful quality and require a little training to get right with the colours, but most importantly they don’t pollute the atmosphere with residue oils or require tons of water to flush through, the blacks may not reach the blackest of black tones, but they are significantly more eco-friendly and sustainable than their oil-based counterpart. Kinder to the environment and non toxic for you.
The top layer is then transposed to the 100% natural rubber base using HEAT ONLY. No glues, no hidden toxins. They bond together in this final step and Voila! The finished beautiful yoga mat.
All our mats come with a natural cotton strap and are boxed with recycled cardboard packaging all printed with water-based inks.
We have active conversations and shares on our Facebook Group, about this and so much more, so get in involved, we look forward to welcoming you!
For Further Report Reading see here. In this report it is described how the plastic bottles that are a non degradable waste is one of the reasons for global warming, but can be converted into a useful product that is fibre and than it can be further used for making yarn and into fabric.
Also see BBC Newsbeat and the Blue Planet II Series for their vital documentary work and let’s clean up our planet. Feel strongly the pull for change? If you have the time and passion, and feel like you have exhausted your MP and the like, there are some wonderful non-violent protest groups you can join and follow online. The community is growing. Extinction Rebellion are amazing group of activists, you can find out more of them here.