Javier Goyeneche (ECOALF) – Turning Plastic Sea Waste Into Fashion
Javier Goyeneche is the founder of ECOALF, the Spanish company which turns plastic sea waste into high-quality fashion products.
ECOALF is a fashion company that created a new 100% recycled filament, Sea Yarn, which is made of the plastic bottle collection found in the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea.
The sea yarn is further used to create high-quality fabrics which ECOALF turns into a new generation of sustainable products.
Through this process, one sweatshirt alone saves 6200 litres of water. ECOALF designs and makes fashion clothes, footwear and accessories for women, men and children.
Javier Goyeneche’s commitment to put an end to the endless pollution of the environment prompted him to take the next step: setting up the ECOALF Foundation.
The mission of the ECOALF Foundation is to upcycle the oceans of our planet. The foundation is currently running two projects: Upcycling the oceans in Spain and Thailand.
The project in Spain started in 2015 and involved 28 ports amounting to a total of 441 sea trawlers and over 4000 fishermen. To date, more than 200 tonnes/year of marine debris has been recovered from the bottom of the Mediterranean sea.
In 2016, the Ecoalf Foundation started the Upcycling the Oceans project in Thailand. According to statistics, 8 million tonnes of trash end up in the oceans every year. 60% comes from a range of Asian countries. This project promotes the collection and management of plastic waste in Thailand’s coastal and marine tourist areas. Project activities include scuba divers collecting plastic waste from underwater as well as other volunteers collecting plastic waste from beaches.
I was interested to know more about Javier Goyeneche’s mission to produce high-quality fashion and cleaning the oceans of plastic waste at the same time so I asked him the following questions:
1. What is the story behind Ecoalf? How did it all start?
The concept ECOALF was born in 2010 after the birth of my son, Alfredo (the company is named after him).
At that time I was reflecting upon the world we leave to the next generation and felt frustrated with the excessive use of the World’s natural resources.
I decided to create a fashion brand that is truly sustainable. I thought the most sustainable thing was to stop using our natural resources in a careless way.
2. As a champion of sustainability, name a few of the challenges that you were faced with while building your company.
Uff, there have been many. In terms of clients, the concept of recycling is for many of them something negative and synonym of bad quality. They seem to think we recycle the old blanket of the grandmother to make a backpack. I have and spend a lot of time and energy trying to prove that ECOALF is about innovation + design.
Also, my goal was to create a sustainable brand where the price would be affordable (unfortunately most sustainable products are expensive).
In terms of production, we are constantly facing challenges. Trying to be as sustainable as possible is not easy and requires huge and constant effort.
3. Which was harder: to change technologies or people’s minds?
Through investment and patience, we have proved we were able to do many things they told me wouldn’t be possible.
Changing peoples minds is a constant effort. Unfortunately, our actual fashion model with t-shirts at 3 euros is not sustainable and is creating a huge negative impact on our planet. People want to be sustainable but don’t want to change their habits.
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