The average person generates 4.5 pounds of waste daily, which compounds into a whopping 17 billion tons of waste generated by the human population globally. And while it is common to overlook the basic necessity of a trash can and waste disposal system, billions of people in the world lack the resources of properly managing their trash, causing environmental, health, and educational detriment. Thankfully, these three startups are diving headfirst into the trash and making it their mission to create sustainable businesses out of broken plastic buckets, discarded fishnets, and pineapple waste.

The world's first real "bucket" hat

Over 75,000 tons of trash are generated daily by Indonesia, and without sufficient waste management infrastructure in the cities, much of the excess is dumped into nearby areas, where almost a third of urban residents live in trash-filled slums. Without a solution to dispose of the waste, the only options are to burn the piles of trash, or dump it into the ocean. Topiku is a startup tackling this issue by creating a sustainable fashion line out of 100% upcycled materials from Indonesia, starting with organic bamboo cotton tees and snapback hats. Local artisans hand-make each hat from discarded materials like plastic buckets, leather shoes, and excess cloth, which reduces up to 5 pounds of trash from ending in trashfills or in the ocean. They have established partnerships with NGOs to create waste management education programs in the villages they work with to help the villages lead cleaner, safer lives.

Zero-waste skateboards

Discarded fishing gear accounts for a tenth of the oceans plastic pollution, causing massive detriment to marine animals. Bureo designs and manufactures a line of recyclable skateboards and sunglasses made from discarded fishnets. Instead of leaving these plastics fishnets in the ocean or dumping them into the trash, Bureo has created Chile's first ever fishnet collection & recycling program, which provides fisherman with environmentally sound disposal points. By offering recycled high quality products through a zero-waste production that reduces greenhouse gas emissions by over 70% compared to virgin plastics, Bureo enables ethically conscious consumers to support recycling development while providing jobs to local inhabitants.

Deep-sea Denim

Another initiative tackling the ocean's massive plastic pollution problem is spearheaded by singer, songwriter, and producer Pharrell Williams. With G-Star Raw and Bionic Yarn, he has created a line of denim they call "RAW for the Oceans," a line of denim jeans made from recycled ocean plastic. After the plastic bottles and debris are collected from the coastlines, the plastic is then broken down, shredded into fibers and is helixed with cotton to create strong, durable fabric. With his first 3 collections, RAW for the Oceans has already recovered 2 million tons of plastic containers from ocean coastlines.

Pineapple Fiber Fashion

In 2012, a deadly building collapse and fire cost the lives of 1,100 workers in Dhaka, bringing global attention to the unsafe working conditions and low wages of the textile industry. The Tripty Project aims to show the world that an ethical supply chain is within reach and combines traditional Bangladeshi handicraft with modern design to make accessories that have a positive impact on the environment. Excess fiber from pineapple farms and excess fabric from local garment factories are all shredded and spun to create sustainable fabrics, and additionally The Tripty Project employs rehabilitating women from sex trafficking to provide stability in their lives and a voice in their community.

Published on: Dec 10, 2015