“I grew more and more frustrated by all the bad news coming out of the ocean. I wanted to start doing my part to help.”
When it Comes to Plastic Waste, Nube9 Walks the Talk in Style
Have you ever been frustrated with the amount of single-use plastic waste at sporting events? All of those plastic water bottles piling up in trash cans and not a recycle bin in sight! That phenomenon isn't limited to professional sports, either. Kids' athletics and amateur sporting events also tend to come with a crazy amount of unnecessary plastic waste, much of which ends up polluting the ocean.
Ruth True saw this as a huge frustration, but also as an opportunity. The company she started, Nube9, is dedicated to raising awareness about single-use plastic, and providing a market for recycled plastic.
From Problem to Solution
Nube9 started from a couple of simple frustrations. True was appalled at the plastic waste that piled up at every one of her daughter's' basketball games. At the same time, she was frustrated that she couldn't find USA-made uniforms for the team. Rather than get mad, True launched a Nube9 to fix both issues. Nube9 creates comfortable, high-performance athletic clothing from fabric made of plastic from recycled water bottles.
"Finding US-made uniforms for my daughter’s basketball team was impossible," True says, “Then, observing the amount of single-use plastic bottles used at these national tournaments with 10,000 kids a pop, I thought I could combine the need for American pride in athletics and raise awareness of the impact that plastic has on our oceans."
All of Nube9's products are made in the USA with poly-spandex fabric, which is made from recycled plastic. They focus on keeping their entire supply chain ethical, from sourcing to employing workers right here in the U.S. One Nube9 garment keeps as many as 25 recycled plastic bottles out of the landfill. Here's a video that shows how their partner company, Repreve, creates the plastic fabric Nube9 uses to make their clothes:
More Than Uniforms
Nube9 started out making team uniforms, but they've expanded their line to create beautiful athletic and yoga wear for anyone who wants to shop ethically. I asked True what inspired her to expand her line, and she explained that it provides "an opportunity for anyone to buy something with meaning. We're still going to consume athletic wear, and if we're going to do that, I'd like to be in a position to make a difference." She sees these Nube9’s public-facing lines as a chance to expand her market, and also the company's sustainability message.
A good example of how Nube9 brings their message to the market is their "Running the Numbers" line, which is set of athletic pieces created in collaboration with artist and environmentalist Chris Jordan. The garments are printed Jordan's minimalist, black-and-white piece, "Light Bulbs 2008." The original work depicts 320,000 bulbs, which is the number of kilowatts of energy wasted in U.S. homes every single minute.
Their second collaboration with Jordan, called "The Plastix Generation," features modern flowers from his work, "Venus 2011." It's another great example of art-meets-message. We consume 24,000 single-use plastic bags every 10 seconds worldwide, and Jordan's piece translates that plastic waste into a gorgeous floral design.
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