Sure, that shirt you’re wearing may be designed from 100 percent post-consumer plastic, and perhaps you know that it took about 10 or 15 soda bottles to make its fabric, but do you know what country those bottles came from? Do you know how they got recycled or who picked them up? Are you curious about the impact your T-shirt purchase has on supporting the livelihood of the person who collected those bottles? Thread, a Pittsburgh-based B-Corp, is betting that you want to know, and is poised to provide that information when you purchase a product made from its recycled polyester fabric.
Founded in a lightbulb moment following a trip to Haiti — where founder Ian Rosenberger saw widespread underemployment, unsafe living conditions and discarded plastic bottles strewn across streets and beaches –Thread was conceived to take that plastic from “ground to good.” Fast forward three years, and the company is in partnership with Ramase Lajan — an Executives Without Borders NGO program, the name of which translates to “picking up money” in Haitian Creole. Currently, Thread operates in Honduras and Haiti, supporting 225 full-time jobs and 3,000 income-generating opportunities within the collection centers and recycling facilities where the bottles are washed, processed and turned into “flake,” the preliminary plastic material necessary for recycled polyester fabric production.
Each recycling center operates as a nonprofit private entrepreneurship model, and according to Kelsey Halling, Thread’s director of community development, collection center owners who received start-up capital were chosen as well-respected pillars of the community. This helped in overcoming initial community stigma for the dirty work of discarded plastic collection. “There is much less shame now, and plastic isn’t on the streets as much anymore. There’s other waste that gets built up, but plastic doesn’t lie around anymore because people know it’s valuable,” Halling said.Click to continue reading »