Clean Seas Collective

Sustainable fashion solutions to combat ocean pollution

4 minute read

In collaboration with Teemill, our shop partners, we explore what sustainable fashion solutions look like, and what difference they can make to the health of our ocean.

When you think of ocean pollution, what springs to mind? Perhaps the giant Pacific Garbage Patch, or an untreated sewage spill? But that’s not all. Fast fashion contributes to ocean pollution, with harmful chemical run off from dyehouses and microplastics flooding into our waterways with every spin of the washing machine.  Even the clothes that end up in landfills (approximately a truckload every second) contribute to water pollution through chemical run off.

Alongside our work tackling the ocean emergency, we work with a brand that offers innovative solutions to waste in the fashion industry.

Plastic-free solutions

Around 11 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean every year, and it's not just big items causing a problem. Microplastics are released into the water system every time synthetic fabric is washed. In fact, the IUCN calculates that 35% of microplastic pollution comes from washing synthetic textiles. There are two main ways to tackle this problem: catch microplastics before they end up in washing machine wastewater, and limit plastics in products.

It’s possible to fit microplastic filters into washing machines during production, to stop these tiny plastics entering our waterways. Through our Stop Ocean Threads campaign we've been urging the UK Government to require washing machine manufacturers to include microfibre filters by law.

There are a number of ways you can help to reduce microfibre pollution at home, by making small changes to how you care for your clothes.

Two men holding raw cotton fibre in the palms of their hands

Two men holding raw cotton fibre in the palms of their hands

Credit: Teemill

It’s not just about how clothes are made but how they arrive at your door. Plastic packaging shouldn’t be standard, particularly when paper- and plant-based alternatives are so readily available - like the ones we use to package products from our store.

No Harmful Chemicals

Harmful chemicals are a serious threat to biodiversity, polluting our ocean and impacting marine life.  We’ve joined forces with 25 other environmental and non-governmental health organisations to publish 12 key asks of the UK Government in planning its new UK chemical strategy.

When it comes to the textile and fashion industry, wastewater from dyehouses is a major source of pollution. Companies such as Teemill have designed a sustainable process where that water is recovered, cleaned and recirculated.

They also use organic cotton, with production strategies such as co-planting and insect traps used along with manure, as gentler alternatives to pesticides and fertilisers. Teemill have found that this encourages biodiversity and also helps to produce soft clothing, that’s comfortable to wear.

Close up of the inside of a Teemill sweatshirt, label shows the QR code with the words: Send back to be remade and earn store credit. Learn more at

Close up of the inside of a Teemill sweatshirt

Credit: Teemill

Keeping it in the loop

Creating a circular economy is an essential part of how we address pollution at source. In fact, Scotland recently engaged in a consultation on a Circular Economy Bill, which we responded to.

Currently, less than 1% of clothing is recycled, and with 100 billion garments produced every year, we urgently need to start designing garments so they can be recycled, rather than contribute to landfill and water pollution.

Teemill has designed its products so they can be taken back and remilled into new garments at the end of their life.  This reduces waste and the effect fast fashion has on our ocean. By scanning the QR code on every item, customers can return old items for store credit. The recovered organic material is then processed, spun into new organic yarn and made into brand new products.  As a truly circular design, the cotton fibres can be used again and again, without ever ending up as waste.

A significant part of the solution to fast fashion lies in only making items that customers genuinely want. Teemill's print-on-demand model is key to this as nothing is produced needlessly, saving resources and preventing waste. Using tech solutions, orders are printed seconds after the you make your purchase online.

Raising awareness

When done right, fashion can be a powerful force for change, responding to the growing demand for sustainable products and showing what solutions are possible. 

Wearing a sustainably-produced t-shirt with a message you care about is a practical way to stand up for what matters and spread the word.

Teemill's focus on sustainability speaks to an urgent need for clean seas and valuing the biodiversity within this rich ecosystem.

Clean Seas Collective

Two models sat in front of the sea, both wearing Marine Conservation Society store clothing

Credit: Teemill

Teemill’s innovative technology is central to this collaboration and all our merchandise.  With a host of strong environmental credentials, it illustrates what's possible when we consider every stage of production, and design pollution out of the process. The great thing about this technology is that anybody can use it: it’s open-access tech that can be tapped into by any creative individual or organisation wanting to offer sustainable apparel to its customers.

We’re proud to partner with people who lead the way and give customers practical alternatives to fast fashion. Support our work and support our vision of cleaner seas with our Clean Seas clothing collection.

Clean Seas sweatshirts

Two models facing out towards the sea, wearing back print Marine Conservation Society sweatshirts with sea themed designs.

Credit: Teemill

This blog was created in collaboration with Teemill, the e-commerce platform which places sustainability and lightning-fast fulfilment at the forefront to Help Brands End Waste.

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