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Small Wins - teaming up to tackle plastic waste

We’ve recently teamed up with Fenit Samphires soccer club to introduce a recycling initiative that takes aim at circular fashion and sports clothing. Starting with a simple team kit exchange, this concept can provide a powerful platform for the 200 young players in the Fenit Samphires Academy to start their journey on meaningful environmental action.

Photo Credit Cillian Garvey for Orbitus

During 2022 it became apparent to us that grass roots sports clubs churn huge amounts of virgin polyester. Polyester is a petro/plastic based fibre and one of fashion's greatest offenders both in the contribution of plastic to our oceans (35% of primary microplastics in the ocean come solely from the laundry of synthetic textiles)

and damage to our environment through it’s manufacturing and supply chain.

Beyond the global impact of sports polyester, it has a local relevance also. Team kit is a significant annual spend for clubs, often suffocating their cashflow and, particularly in the case of Fenit Samphires, it was in direct conflict to their immediate environment, a marine Special Area of Conservation (Barrow Harbour) and Fenit’s blue flag beach.

The other factor in this campaign was simple logic. We all know how quickly kids grow between the ages of 7-12. They sprout through their clothing very quickly, so even if garments are still in excellent condition they simply don't fit anymore. Given that soccer is a winter season t-shirts are hardly used & training tops are usually in excellent condition after one season's use. This would suggest that a pool of perfectly good team kit lives in wardrobes throughout our community that can easily serve the next crop of players and reduce a requirement for ordering new.

A typical team kit collection of a Fenit 8 year old.

So, even without getting into the nano plastic science of polyester (links below), the model is simple. Use less polyester. Re-circulate pre used kit. Pass it on, save the club money and score a goal against the toxic supply chain of man made synthetic fibres.

We also believe that this concept will resonate with our players. Kids love to learn through games and kids who play soccer adore their jerseys, whether that's the green and black of Fenit Samphires or their cherished (and wildly expensive) Mo Salah replica. By introducing the concept of circular fashion and ocean plastic pollution in a setting where they thrive and have fun we hope that our Samphires Academy kids will quickly become environmental champions in our community.

Photo credit : Cillian Garvey for Orbitus.

As we mentioned, this is a simple first step initiative. No blinding science, no climate anxiety or fear mongering. We just hope that by speaking with young players about a relatable environmental action that they can own, we will enhance their awareness of waste and purpose, making them environmental champions in the process. Small Wins.

Useful Links:

Green Washing - How to Reduce microplastic in your laundry. (Irish Examiner)

Ocean Clean Wash - solutions to the issue of microfibre pollution from synthetic clothes.

Plastic Soup Foundation - one of the leading advocacy groups to tackle plastic pollution in the world.


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