By the year 2050, the weight of plastic in the oceans is projected to outweigh that of fish, according to the nonprofit World Economic Forum. Plastic pollution in the oceans is yet another looming manmade catastrophe on which humanity needs to reverse course with urgency. The good news, says the owner and creative director of the swimwear brand Everything But Water, Sabra Krock, is that reducing plastic pollution is an issue on which the actions of individuals can make a significant impact.
Krock and husband Randall Blumenthal opened the 101st Everything But Water store at the 1 Hotel South Beach last week, and they're using the event not only as an opportunity to raise awareness of the ways in which individuals can make sustainable decisions, but also as a launching pad for their company's conservation efforts.
Everything But Water has partnered with the 5 Gyres Institute for "Water Is Everything," an ongoing project aimed at informing the public about preventable plastic pollution and transforming their own business practices to reflect their efforts toward conservation and sustainability. The 5 Gyres Institute is dedicated to finding ways to curb plastic pollution, and Krock says she and her husband chose the 1 Hotel South Beach, an eco hotel, as a permanent home because they too are committed to those causes. The room keys at the hotel are made of recycled wood, not plastic, and the hotel equips guests with shower timers so they may consider their own environmental footprint.
"Water Is Everything" includes donating 25 percent of proceeds from a collection of Everything But Water's swimwear made of recycled materials to the 5 Gyres Institute, as well as leading a two-day community education campaign including a beach cleanup and screening of the documentary Junk Raft: An Ocean Voyage and a Rising Tide of Activism. 1 Hotel South Beach will also display a 250-pound whale sculpture created by artist Cindy Pease Roe and made entirely of marine debris salvaged from beaches to illustrate the gravity of the issue. The sculpture was built with tow lines used on barges and boats, carpeting, bottle caps, plastic bottles, a baby spoon, and even a pregnancy test.
Everything But Water's green initiative extends far beyond this week's two-day consciousness-raising event and into the long-term. The brand has implemented companywide changes that include substituting plastic office products such as mechanical pencils for eco-friendly wood ones. The company has also piloted a recycling program for the 1.8 million poly bags it receives annually in vendor shipments at many of its mall locations.
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Mass production of clothing can be extremely wasteful, but Krock says her company plans to curb its impact in that regard as well. "This initiative has multiple legs," she says. "We looked at our own corporate processes around reduction and waste management and other issues. One thing that's really exciting is that more and more brands are using upcycled or sustainable fabrics, even in swimwear." She cites the swimwear company Vitamin A, which created four looks for Everything But Water using recycled plastic bottles.
Krock says the use of sustainable fabrics in swimwear is nascent but becoming increasingly popular. She hopes the industry makes a commitment to reform, just as she and her husband did when they learned about the crisis of oceanic plastic pollution.
"Once you start to see these things, it's certainly been true for our company," she says. "You cannot unsee them."
Water Is Everything. Beach cleanup 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 4, at 24th Street beach entrance, Miami Beach; volunteercleanup.org. Admission is free. Pool party Thursday at 1 Hotel South Beach Cabana Pool, 2341 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; everythingbutwater.com. Admission is free with RSVP at email@example.com.