For Every Purchase, this Sustainable Outdoor Apparel & Accessories Brand Removes 1 Pound of Trash from Our Oceans + Waterways.
United By Blue founder & CEO Brian Linton knew that writing a company check to charity each year wouldn’t be enough to make a real impact. When he first landed on the fashion scene selling t-shirts in Philly circa 2010, he went on to re-define what it means to be an eco-conscious brand – from a business model that actually aims to tackle ocean pollution, to clothing made from new and exclusive materials such as sustainable Bison Down, and finally, a corporate culture that is committed to reducing its waste footprint, helping the company earn its coveted B-Corp status.
A Bold Mission to Remove Plastics From Our Closets & Our Oceans
It’s no secret that the fashion industry has been named among the top culprits (#2 in fact) of the plastics polluting our oceans. So it then seems either fitting, or crazy, to found a clothing company dedicated to undoing the mess its industry created.
As a certified B-Corp, a short list of eco-friendly companies referred to as the “Next A-list of the Fashion Industry” by WWD magazine, sustainable apparel and accessories brand United By Blue (UBB) broke out into the industry with a high-stakes mission of cleaning up our closets, and our oceans.
United By Blue vowed – and still does – to personally organize the removal of 1 pound of trash (90% of which is plastic and styrofoam) from oceans and local waterways with every sale. This ambitious task, and their progress so far, is front and center of the brand.
Having removed nearly 3.5 million pounds of trash to date (to put that into perspective, there are currently 150 million tonnes of trash polluting our oceans, with 8 million tonnes or 14 billion pounds added each year), United By Blue recognizes that their mission is not a solution alone.
The company believes that “change comes in waves,” and hopes that their platform will help educate and motivate their customers to reconsider plastic-use altogether.
We’re All Addicts
United By Blue is not shy about calling us out on our unhealthy addiction to plastic. As the company works to clean up our oceans, they also remind us just how entangled plastic has become in our day-to-day routine, only to end up in our waterways.
Much like an addict is guided to name his vice as the first step to recovery, UBB invites us to pledge #quitsingleuse via some very reasonable daily life choices: opt for no straw, BYO mug for your morning latte, and keep a reusable bag handy in your sustainable UBB Carryall Tote.
However, the onus isn’t only on us as consumers. United By Blue quickly realized that it was fighting a battle with plastics in its own offices and retail stores, and has publicly shared its journey to replace things like bubble wrap, packing tape, and plastic file covers by 2020.
Innovating in Sustainable Materials
While many eco-savvy consumers may have already made the switch to bamboo toilet paper, they likely haven’t heard of corozo or “vegetable ivory,” a sustainable and biodegradable tree nut from Central America that United By Blue uses in many of its shirt and sweater buttons.
Another sustainable clothing material that the company has paved the way for is ethical Bison Down, trademarked as BISONSHIELD™. One of United By Blue’s 6 exclusive materials, the company’s product designers discovered untapped potential in Bison fur that was being discarded as a byproduct of the ranching and Bison meat industry.
United By Blue combines the biodegradable fur with 100% recycled polyester to create a proprietary blend that is hypoallergenic, lightweight, and warming, making it an excellent alternative to Goose Down that kills the animal for its feathers. UBB offers a range of BISONSHIELD™ winter apparel including hats, gloves, socks, and coats.
Big Business Means Big Change
United By Blue has figured out how to operate at its core in a way that other clothing companies have been scrambling to on the sidelines – make fashion a cause for good. If buying a coat that looks good and keeps you warm has ever been a moral dilemma, the company makes it a no-brainer, and even an act with impact.
And after 10 years in business, United By Blue has demonstrated that making more of a positive impact is easy – as it grows, it does more.
The company continues to exercise its force for good, and often in new ways, organizing local clean-up initiatives and showing support for social causes such as the Black Lives Matter Movement (particularly important to its hometown of Philadelphia) with its “Outdoors for All” capsule collection.
UBB is also the pioneer of Mission Brand Alliance which seeks to highlight the important work of other socially and environmentally-conscious brands.
Ultimately, United By Blue is proof that big business isn’t always bad or part of the problem, but that, in fact, it’s the company’s revenue and reach, from funding waste collection to discovering and repurposing overlooked waste materials, that fuel the success of their do-good mission.