As reports about the volume of plastic and other waste in oceans continue to flood news outlets and social media feeds, more and more consumers are seeking out sustainable products. It’s essential that buyers find the eco-friendly merchandise their customers are looking for. Sustainable, recycled and reclaimed options abound throughout the campus in Atlanta.
30A isn't just a highway in Florida. It's also a company that produces recycled clothing. Their shirts and sweatshirts are made of a combination of recycled plastic bottles and recycled cotton. The designs speak to the company’s goal: to remove or prevent plastic from being in our oceans. With beachy vibes and sayings (such as Beach Happy), the 30A shirts are made using six to eight water bottles each; sweatshirts take care of around 10 to 20 plastic bottles.
To make the fabric, 30A turns plastic bottles into shreds then extrudes it to be sort of like cotton. It’s then weaved into material with recycled cotton, creating an ultra-soft fabric. Displays in their booth show this process from start to finish. “Our booth is more than selling products, but also an educational thing,” said Megan Lyons of 30A. “We are unique in that our brand’s apparel is 100% recycled. We figured out that sometime last year, we saved a million water bottles.
“It’s also really cool to see other brands taking sustainability into their own hands,” adds Lyons.
Another company literally taking sustainability and eco-friendliness into their own hands is 4Ocean. The company is less about product and more about action. They are a company of several fleets of ships and crews of people who work out of major ports all over the globe. They make bracelets from trash that they collect from the ocean, with recycled glass for the beads and recycled bottles for the cords the beads are strung on. Each bracelet sold funds the removal of a pound of trash from the ocean or coastline.
Brenton Schultz, the director of sales at 4Ocean, said he loves being part of the eco-friendly movement in the gift industry because “we are a force for good. The best thing about what we do is social entrepreneurship. We are for-profit in the business of cleaning the ocean — and giving back at the same time. Everyone in gift — especially customers — are looking for gifts with a purpose. We were able to take that desire from the public and turn it into something bigger than we are,” Schultz said. And that movement has taken off; in January 2017, 4Ocean had six employees; as of May 2019, they have over 300 across the globe.
To raise awareness around the topic of sustainability, the ECO Lounge returns to AmericasMart Atlanta in July. This new destination in the Building 3 Atrium is a place where buyers can rest, recharge and learn about products and partners that abide by sustainable practices.
4Ocean is a fan of what AmericasMart is doing. “AmericasMart has a litany of potential consumers for us to reach. Gift and boutique is a great market for us, and anyone from small independent retailers all the way through larger demographics are interested in eco-friendly products, so it is a no-brainer,” Schultz said. “Plus, when I tell our story to buyers at AmericasMart, people would get emotional, have goosebumps and really attach themselves to our mission. They become fans, gigantic supporters. The reaction from the retailers makes it so appealing. Selling something that is doing good. Our bracelets are not just trinkets.”
Stop by the ECO Lounge during July Market and enjoy complimentary hospitality daily:
Wednesday, July 10 – Sunday, July 14 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Closes at 2 p.m. on Sunday) Building 3, Floor 2, Atrium