"Ethical production, and buying habits, can be a counter-reaction to stupid political decisions. We want to be a brand who gives something back."
THE World’s first eco-friendly underpants made from recycled ocean plastics could help protect the planet’s seas.
According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) more than six million tonnes of junk is dumped into our waters every year, posing a serious threat to critically-endangered marine life.
Now Finnish firm The Other Danish Guy has unveiled a new range boxers and trunks made from fabric fashioned from salvaged flotsam and jetsam, including discarded fishing nets.
They're toasting London investment following a successful 'Indiegogo' crowdfunding campaign.
And for company founder Tommi Lähde, his ‘Discovery Collection’ smalls stem from a genuine desire to protect the marine environment.
Lähde explained: “I was essentially born on the sea; my father is a sea captain and I learned to love the water from being a toddler.
“I’ve been sailing my own boats ever since I was a child and I’ve seen first hand how the marine environment is changing for the worse.
“I remember a time when the Baltic Sea was so clear you could see a coin at a depth of 15 metres.
“Nowadays, I can’t see further than my arm’s length. And it comes down to pure negligence. We want to try and make a real difference.”
The charity World Animal Protection says entanglement in so-called ‘ghost gear’ - abandoned fishing equipment - kills at least 136,000 seals, sea lions and large whales every year.
They add that an ‘inestimable number of birds, turtles, fish and other species are also injured and killed.’
But since 2007, a small portion of this deadly plastic has been collected by the ‘Healthy Seas’ initiative which aims to turn ‘waste into wear’.
Fishing nets - both salvaged from the ocean floor and from commercial fish farms - and other industrial plastic waste, is collected and turned into a special yarn through a process called ‘depolymerisation’ by Italian firm Aquafil.
This yarn is then woven into ‘SmoothShell’ material used in The Other Danish Guy’s undies - a revolutionary fast-drying fabric that Lähde says has an ‘outstandingly soft touch’ compared to traditional nylon.
Lähde adds: “It’s estimated there’s 640,000 tons of discarded fishing nets in the oceans.
“These fishing nets remain adrift for a substantial amount of time and are responsible for the accidental capture of whales, turtles, birds and other marine mammals.
“This problem only continues to get worse each year.
“And the world’s ‘fast-fashion’ culture is also damaging to the environment.
“According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 15.1 million tons of textile waste is generated yearly, of which 12.8 million tons were discarded.
“For us, using recycled nylon yarn made from ocean garbage was a two-fold decision.
“We want to change the world for the better, and we also discovered that this type of nylon is actually much softer and more comfortable against the skin than traditional nylon. It was a no-brainer.
“Ethical production, and buying habits, can be a counter-reaction to stupid political decisions. We want to be a brand who gives something back.
“We will make all of our future products from materials that are sustainable and eco-friendly.”
The underwear was listed on crowdfunding site Indiegogo earlier this year and quickly raised more double its intended target within less than two days.
But the public can still contribute to the project and buy their own pair of eco-undies here https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/premium-undies-made-from-discarded-fishing-nets-fitness-design
The Other Danish Guy Discovery Collection pants will be available to buy in August this year, priced at £30.
The launch also comes after a recent Greenpeace scientific voyage around the coastline of Scotland laid-bare the true impact of plastic pollution on some of the UK's most treasured seas, beaches and wildlife.
Tisha Brown, oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: "It cannot be right that our beaches, seas and the stunning wildlife they are home to should become the final dumping ground for throwaway plastic bottles and other plastic trash.
"With a truckload of plastic entering the ocean every minute, we need urgent action from governments and from major soft drinks companies which produce billions of single-use plastic bottles every year, like Coca-Cola, to stop the flow of plastic into the sea.”
Greenpeace found harmful microplastics in the foraging grounds of basking sharks and seabirds, and animals entangled in rubbish.
Meanwhile a third - 36.5 per cent - of fish caught by trawler in the English Channel, including cod, haddock and mackerel, were found to contain ‘microbeads’ - tiny plastic fragments found in shower gels, toothpastes and beauty products.
The fishing industry accounts for 10 per cent of ocean junk – most of which is nets and fishing gear lost or thrown away into the sea.
These ‘ghost nets’ continue trapping fish for many decades and, according to the NOAA Fisheries, an average of 11 large whales – including blue and humpback – get entangled along the US coast every year.
But in 2015, 61 whales were reported entangled off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California – the highest annual total since the group started keeping records in 1982.
North Atlantic right whales frequently fall victim to discarded nets, and there are now fewer than 500 of the 45-tonne creatures left in the world.
As well as being slaughtered for their eggs, meat, skin and shells, sea turtles also face the threat of an estimated 640,000 tons of ghost nets in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. (according to FAO and UNEP.
Aquafil has also partnered with Interface and the Zoological Society of London for the Net-WorksTM initiative, which collects in the Philippines, in cooperation with local fishing villages.