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This Startup Makes T-Shirts from Seaweed, ‘Down’ from Wildflowers

T-shirts made with seaweed, track pants produced with plastic waste and puffer jackets stuffed with wildflower “down.” Those are just a few of the ways Pangaia, a nascent “global collective” of scientists, artists and technologists wants to help the planet consume more sustainably.

The last is a “breakthrough vegan technology” 10 years in the making by the collective’s members, according to Pangaia, which stirred up buzz during its soft launch at November’s ComplexCon, a “cultural Super Bowl” convened each year by Complex Media and hosted by musician-entrepreneur Pharrell Williams (himself no stranger to eco-fashion) and artist Takashi Murakami.

Paired with an outer shell produced entirely from post-consumer recycled materials, the gender-neutral puffer is a “100 percent cruelty-free alternative to traditional winter wear,” the collective said.

Other items in Pangaia’s inaugural “drop,” manufactured ethically in Europe, are equally thoughtful. The organization’s tees, which blend organic cotton with 20 percent seaweed fiber as a water-whittling measure, have been treated with natural peppermint oil to “keep [them] fresher for longer between washes” and reduce water waste by up to 3,000 liters over their lifetime, Pangaia said. Each hoodie boasts the equivalent of 28 recycled plastic bottles, as does every pair of track pants. 

“We worked hard to make sure that every trim, label, thread and zipper is either recycled or as sustainable or responsibly sourced as it can be,” it added on its website.

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Few details have been spared, too. Consumers can unlock information about their garments by scanning the NFC (near-field communication) hang tags with their phones. They’re directed to send off broken and castoff pieces to be repaired or recycled by Oregon’s The Renewal Workshop, so nothing goes to the landfill or incinerator. And in lieu of traditional plastic packaging, Pangaia uses a bio-based alternative that it claims will break down in a compost bin within 24 weeks.

Virgin plastic and its effect on the environment are obviously anathema to the collective, which is donating 1 percent of it proceeds to the 5 Gyres Institute, a nonprofit that uses science and activism to combat the “global health crisis” of plastic pollution. 

Still, clothing is only a delivery system—and an entry point—for the group’s larger mission. Pangaia say it’s working to develop an “open-source platform for the latest eco-innovations and solutions,” one that connects kindred individuals and groups that care about the environment.

We are starting a movement, Pangaia said. For a better now, for a better future.