300 million tons of plastic are produced every year. About 5 percent of it ends up in the world's oceans.
Unfortunately, Switzerland is a contributor to this environmental crisis. The Swiss Litter Report 2018 found that plastic is the most common garbage that is left lying around by people.
The shores of Lake Zurich are the most littered. This garbage gets blown into the lake, polluting it with plastics and micro plastics. Some of the material eventually flows down the Limmat into the Aare, into the Rhine and into the ocean. As there are no rivers that flow into Switzerland, all of us must take full responsibility for this phenomenon.
Tip of the iceberg
This issue gave rise to the TEAL Project. The company was founded by a team of Zurich based creatives who want to help clean the oceans of plastics, giving it a new life. The so-called plastic patches we see in the news represent just 25 percent of the plastics in the sea. The rest finds its way to the ocean floor where it destroys other ecosystems.
Three years of research and prototyping
The team behind TEAL are nature lovers and passionate surfers who have worked for some top sports brands in the past. They saw the stories about floating plastic patches. And while surfing, they spotted PET bottles, plastic bags and other rubbish in the oceans and on the shores.
From their work, they also knew that plastic is a significant component of technical performance sportswear. Seeing this problem and having this knowledge, they started working on a business plan and a mission: to create performance driven apparel and clean up our oceans at the same time. After years of research and prototyping, they have their first product.
Cleaning up 100 years of plastic pollution
The designers understand that we need to close the circle on the plastic economy. We need to produce less virgin plastic and start reusing the plastic we have already created in the past 100 years.
As part of TEAL, some 150 Spanish fishermen have begun trolling the waters of the Mediterranean and Atlantic for plastic. This collected waste is then sorted and refined into Seaqual™ fibres consisting of 80 percent recycled material that can be used for clothing.
These fibers are the basis of TEAL's socks. The team also found production facilities in Portugal. Having the production in Europe will help ensure that TEAL products have a lower post-production carbon footprint thanks to shorter shipping distances. It is also easier to guarantee the highest quality.
TEAL on Kickstarter
To start TEAL, the team decided that they would create a low-entry barrier product for funding on Kickstarter. They have spent a year perfecting an everyday performance socks. What does this mean? It’s a sock you can wear every day, but also for doing your favorite sports like running, biking, hiking and skateboarding.
The sock has plenty of features to help stabilize your feet, protect your toes and keep your feet dry, thus preventing odor and blisters. And because socks are not meant to be complicated, they come in three sizes and three colors that can be worn with any and every outfit...
How to help clean up the oceans
Despite Switzerland’s reputation as one of the world's top recyclers, we are still not perfect. Here are three things that you can do to help protect and preserve our waters:
- Buy fewer plastic products.
- Ensure that you properly recycle or dispose of your waste.
- Support the TEAL Project on Kickstarter