My first day in court was spent in a Marine Layer tee.
Turns out that trying to open a mobile store without a permit in Montauk, NY isn’t legal. I was told by two cops, a hotel GM, and a few local residents that Montauk is the ‘Land of No’. The kind of place where stepping outside of the boundaries of city planning is met with the wrath of the East Hampton PD. As a result, I spent an afternoon with fellow criminals in the local Justice Court, where the waiting times, chair design, and general ‘bummer’ atmosphere had a lot in common with the DMV.
Nothing to be done after getting issued a court summons
As an alleged ‘illegal peddler’ I sat awaiting my sentence, wondering if this experience could relate to the broader narrative Marine Layer is creating around Re-Spun. For a long time the apparel industry was also the ‘Land of No’ with regards to sustainable production, where derision from the environmental status quo was discouraged or ignored. This dated approach resulted in the apparel industry becoming the second largest global polluter behind oil and gas.
We highlighted some of the negative impacts of mainstream textile production during the Re-Spun campaign. However, the more we research, the more we understand the severity of the problem and the need to rethink how we produce and purchase clothes.
Finally caught a break in Rockaway
That problem begins with sourcing virgin materials. Thirty-three percent of all fibers in clothes comes from cotton, an extremely resource intensive plant. Cotton accounts for 25% of global pesticide use, particularly shocking considering that it only takes up 3% of arable land. It is also a very thirsty crop, requiring 2700 liters of water to make one tee.
Once the fabric is created and sold, the environmental impact shifts to post-consumer waste. The average American throws away 80 pounds of textile waste per year. What clothes don’t get directly thrown in the trash might go to thrift stores and charities. But there is far too much supply for these institutions to handle, and they only end up selling 15% of the goods they receive. The rest often get sent to developing countries, where they flood the regional market and choke out local industry. While textile recyclers are doing their best, there is too much waste for them to manage.
Together as an industry, we need to demonstrate the importance of shifting to more sustainable methods of production and less wasteful practices. While Re-Spun is definitely a start for Marine Layer, we’re working on making it a larger part of our business and finding new ways to do more. This means moving from the ‘Land of No’ to the ‘Land of... something more environmentally friendly and less wasteful’. Sounds like Montauk just found themselves a new slogan.
When I started Marine Layer almost 10 years ago, the goal was to make the best shirt we could... and not go out of business. Adam and I (and the rest of the crew) have spent the majority of the last decade worrying about those things. And in the process, we've managed to build a great brand and a tremendous community of supporters.
But as we gained a better understanding of the apparel industry and its negative impact on the environment, it became clear that we had to do more than just make great clothes and not go broke. We needed to figure out a way to be part of the solution.
Over the years we tried lots of things (including a hideous recycled t-shirt bag) but struggled to figure out how to make a substantial positive impact. Turns out, our fatal flaw was not coming up with a solution that involved our customers.
That's why we're so excited about Re-Spun. It's the only recycling program around that leverages the incredible power of our community.
We launched Re-Spun this past month and already got about 3 times as many donation commitments as we expected. We need 20,000 to get to the scale where this program will work, and we're well on our way. Hopefully, this is just the beginning!
Thanks to everyone who has participated. And to everyone who read this far down in our message.
Can we send in old jeans, button-downs, or anything else that isn’t a tee?
We’re just taking t-shirts this time around, but if they end up in our bin we’ll find a responsible use for them.
Does it have to be a Marine Layer shirt?
Nope. It can be any brand. Kirkland Signature, Chanel, or anything in between.
Can we send in any fabric/material tees?
We love almost all fabrics and materials. The only thing we ask you don’t send is activewear fabric. That stretchy spandex is tough to break down.
Instead, cut it up and use it to dry dishes. That stuff is like magic.
How many shirts can I send you?
As many as you want. The more, the merrier. Also, the more credit for you.
If I donate 100 shirts, do I get $500 credit?
Nice try. You get $5 credit per tee -- up to $25. So:
2 tees……………... $10
3 tees……………… $15
4 tees…………..… $20
How long will you be collecting shirts?
Forever. “10,000 tees” just the number we need to fill up our first shipping container.
Can we bring them to stores or does it have to be online?
Either. Both if you’d like. Every ML store has a drop-off mailbox.
What’s the condition that they should be in? (Holes, stains, etc.)
Everything’s washed and broken down to the fiber level, so it seriously doesn’t matter. Send us your tees with stains, holes, and rips. Any condition.
If you get the full $25 credit, can you ever get credit again if you send more tees?
Not with the same email. But force your friends to donate, and then steal their code. #friendship.
If we bring 6 tees to the stores, can we receive our $25 and use it immediately?
Yup. Or if you want to save the credit for later, one of the store associates will e-mail you a code.
Bonus points for old ML shirts?
Nah, but clearly you have great style.
Are these made with any hazardous chemicals?
The people up top double checked to make sure there’s no sketchy business. Recover yarns are certified with OEKO-TEX 100 to assure lack of hazardous chemicals, and the Global Recycling Standard to assure recycled content.
Oh yeah, and Recover upcycled cotton yarns score THE BEST in Higg MSI.
Higg MSI? Is this another Danish word you guys are using?
Nope. Basically, every company gets a number out of 100 - a “sustainability performance” score. It ’s a great way to publicly compare and expose companies, so we can peer pressure them to not screw over the Earth.
The lower the score, the better. Check this out:
Doesn’t recycled yarn usually feel like a scratchy potato bag? How’d you get it so soft?
We sueded it.
Sueding is when the fabric is rubbed really hard against something scratchy to raise the surface of fibers. Basically, it’s like taking sandpaper and rubbing it against the cloth really fast. This reduces the friction between the fibers and makes it a whole lot softer.
Imagine sanding down a surfboard. It beats down all the splinters and makes for a much smoother ride. That’s basically what we’re doing with our Re-Spun yarn.
Why are people in Spain doing this and not the US?
So Recover, the company we’re working with, has been doing this since the 1960s, so they’re experts in what they do. They started during WW2, when Europe was running out of textiles, people start researching how to re-use what already exists. And thus, Recover was born. America didn’t face that same trouble during WW2, so that’s kinda why.
Do we have to pay to mail in our shirts?
Nope, all our tee recycling kits come with prepaid mailers. Completely free for you.
Are the prepaid mailers recyclable?
Yup, they’re made from recycled materials and will be recycled again.
Isn’t this really expensive for you guys to do?
Yeah, but we really like Earth.