As part of our founder interview series we interview Sarah Moñino from The Salvage to learn how to turn plastic pollution into great leggings and why she wants you to join her community of Conscious Warriors!
What is ‘The Salvage Philosophy'?
We are dreamers of a cleaner world, without fish full of micro plastic bits. A world walking towards nature instead of running from it. And from that dream, The Salvage was born. The first brand in Europe that creates activewear with recycled plastic bottles. It has been quite a long ride to make it happen.
Too many obstacles, too many big brands and a huge fashion industry suffocating our best efforts to get to the surface. After almost two years of work, here we are, looking forward to spread our quest for the Earth and to get as many conscious warriors on board as we can!
So what inspired you to focus on activewear at The Salvage?
It was our background in sports and yoga which lead us to create activewear in the first place. Sarah, one of the creators of the brand has been a yoga teacher around the world for years and she realized the importance of building a brand that gives a sustainable solution to all yogis and fitness fans out there!
The Salvage uses a variety of bold and colourful prints. What is the significance behind the design?
The Salvage was born to give an alternative to what already existed. This aim applies to our designs. All around Europe, you can find sustainable activewear in basic and plain designs, mainly because of the materials and the sustainable processes that they are made with. For us, using Recycled PET fabrics is the key element. This material provides the possibility of applying digital printing on it, so we are able to create any design we want in a very sustainable way!
Tell us about the process of converting plastic bottles into new clothing. Also, where did you first learn about this technology and how does it work?
One day in our life:
We buy the recycled PET fabric from our supplier in China (an ethically run factory with long experience in recycled yarn), the only supplier that so far has honoured us by listening to our ideas and ultimately, created the perfect fabric for us. We are actually really proud to be recycling plastic in China, which is the most plastic polluted country in the world! There are no boundaries for our mission.
And how do they recycle the plastic bottles?
First, PET bottles get classified by colour, they are washed, and then they get shattered and melted. The last step of the process is the creation of the yarn from the melted plastic. Voilà. Also, in this process the water used is recycled over and over, with no water waste. After that, they mix the recycled PET yarn with spandex to make the elastic fabric needed to create our activewear.
On top of that, they do the pattern printing process, which is digitally printed, no chemicals and no polluting water either (this is why our leggings all have a white interior).
Bringing it back to Europe.
We receive the printed fabric in our factory in Madrid, Spain, and from there we cut and sew it, pack the goodies and leave them ready for you. All ethically and consciously made by the best production team ever. At our atelier, we work very hard on everything else! Online store management, finances, communication, orders, packaging, shipping… We totally love our job.
When we first learnt about this technology, it was through the yoga movement in the United States. There we were first introduced to some brands that were already using this kind of fabric. Then, we tried to find some similar brands in Europe, and found none. That is when our adventure started!
You are actively fighting for the reduction of plastic pollution. But what other steps do you take to limit your impact on the environment?
Nowadays, we are almost a 100% plastic-free company, always trying to reduce the little plastic we use at the moment. Our packaging is made of fabric bags from the leftovers of the production, and the envelopes we use are made of 100% recycled cardboard. We also go paperless at the office and try to reduce to the max anything we don’t really need. When looking for stockists to collaborate with, we always choose the ones that are sustainable, responsible, and want to make a real change! At the end of the day, it is all about intention and commitment, that is all The Salvage is made of.
What do you think are the biggest obstacles preventing higher environmental standards in the fashion industry?
FAST FASHION. In capitals. The culture of fast fashion really. The need of constantly changing the styles, the moods, the looks…
The need of creating a cover mask for what we really are, to not show our insecurities and lack of self-esteem at any time. The zombie consumer, the one that does what they are told without thinking, is the best thing that could ever have happened to the fashion industry in order to become huge and highly profitable, and that is also damaging the planet’s wellbeing.
It is the fashion industry itself that is preventing higher standards. Also, the LACK OF AWARENESS of the consequences of our actions. Picture how many people in the world are buying clothes right now, how much money they are spending. Picture how much of that money goes to a few people and how little of that money goes to the many workers behind every piece of clothing. Picture all of the processes, the factories, the industrial sewing machines non-stop; picture the rivers glowing in the color of the season. Heartbreaking. We need everyone on board here. To make the real change, we need the consumer to start asking for sustainable options so that the wheel keeps turning to a better, greener future. We need conscious and loving Warriors.
Why is it important to combat the growing trends of ‘throwaway consumerism’ and ‘disposable fashion’?
Because one day we will wake up on a pile of garbage, we will have plastic bits for breakfast, and we will swim between food packaging and sanitary napkins.
You are currently cultivating a community of ‘Conscious Warriors’. But what does it mean to become a ‘Conscious Warrior’?
Being a Conscious Warrior means to fight from the heart to make the world a better place. We want to bring together a community of conscious people that will spread the message of sustainability with us, and that will help us make a real change!
So, aside from plastic, what waste or material do you wish you could find a new innovative use for?
At the moment we are mainly focusing on recycled PET, but we are open to using new materials in the future such as regenerated nylon from fishing nets, which is also something that is polluting our oceans in horrific ways.
What is the one thing you wish everyone knew about The Salvage?
That our mission is to reduce plastic pollution one legging at a time, a very comfy and lovely looking legging.