Last week, reality TV personality Heidi Montag shared what appeared to be an Instagram ad for S1ngles Jeans, a fake denim brand claiming to be the world’s first single-use jeans. Montag’s caption read “No more shrinkage. No more fading color. Just good vibes. You’ll always look your best because you’ll only wear @S1NGLESJEANS once. #ad,” and triggered a series of comments from users slamming the destructive nature of the product.
Three days later, the message became clear. The star best known for her role on “The Hills” posted a follow-up video showing herself in jeans floating in the ocean next to empty water bottles, saying “Single-use jeans are dumb—as dumb as single-use plastic bottles. They’ve become part of our everyday, and we no longer see how bad they are.”
The ad goes on to say that the “stupidest single-use product is already out there polluting our oceans,” and issues a call to action to sign a petition from ocean preservation nonprofit Oceana to “refill again.” The petition directly calls out major soft drink companies including The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, Nestlé, Danone, and the Dr Pepper Snapple Group and demands they provide the public with a refillable bottle option.
The organization reported that 34 billion single-use plastic bottles end up in the ocean every year, and that recycling is ineffective, with only 9 percent of plastic waste recycled. Since its founding in 2001, Oceana has protected more than 4.5 million square miles of ocean, and this high-profile campaign is an attempt to expand its achievements.
The fashion industry has offered its own solutions to plastic bottles, which global trims manufacturer YKK upcycles into zippers. YKK said 10,000 Natulon zippers of approximately 23 inches in length gave new life to 3,600 recycled plastic bottles, according to a recent sustainability report.
Similarly, German textile chemical company Rudolf Group developed a method for turning plastic into textile chemistry for denim washing, polyester moisture management and polymer dyeing. Through the process of chemical recycling, the chemical company transformed post-consumer, disposable and non-returnable plastics into raw materials that replace fossil resources in its manufacturing. Plastic flakes are sourced locally from plastic intended to be turned into bottles.
Other supply chain partners have experimented with turning recycled plastic bottles into fiber for jeans—a process that has faced backlash from experts who say that other industries could reuse the plastic in a way that extends its circular lifecycle. For example, a plastic bottle can be repeatedly recycled into other plastic bottles, but once it’s recycled into apparel, its potential for future recycling diminishes.