Brother and sister sell surfing gear made from plastic 'waste'

Guest post by Caroline Danehy, all the way from the United States via Sydney, Australia

(Caroline took a tour of Sydney's Sustainable House where she told me her story about how she and her brother, Jake, are doing their best to keep plastic out of Earth's oceans - so here it is for you, too.)

 • Jake and Carolin Danehy at Fair Harbor, US

• Jake and Carolin Danehy at Fair Harbor, US

Over three years ago, my brother, Jake Danehy, and I started Fair Harbor Clothing, an active lifestyle brand that makes men’s swimwear out of recycled plastic bottles.

It started in 2014 when Jake was a geography major at Colgate University (‘16). While studying, he learned a lot about the allocation of resources, overconsumption, environmental justice, and sustainability. During his sophomore year at Colgate, in one of his geography classes, Jake learned about plastic waste and how much of it ends up in the ocean. Although, at the time, he was four and a half hours from the closest beach, Jake couldn’t stop thinking about how connected he was with the ocean and how much it meant to him growing up.

As little kids, our family spent our summers in Fair Harbor on Fire Island, a quaint beach town off the coast of New York. The Island embodies the simple, summer life--cars are prohibited, smoke from BBQs fills the air everyday after 5pm, and no one ever wears shoes. During our childhood in Fair Harbor, all that we needed to make us happy was a bike, fishing pole, surfboard, and bathing suit.

After learning about the great danger that Fair Harbor, and other small beach towns like it, was in, Jake became obsessed with plastic waste and tried to figure out how he could make a difference. During that spring, Jake called me on the phone and explained that he had an idea to start an environmentally friendly clothing company--I immediately jumped on board. I had always been passionate about the environment and fashion, so Fair Harbor was the perfect opportunity to cohesively combine my two interests.

 • Fair Harbour surfing clothing made from recycled plastics

• Fair Harbour surfing clothing made from recycled plastics

After many long nights of studying and researching plastic waste, we decided that we wanted to create a swimwear company that made all of our products out of recycled plastic waste.

We became inspired to build a lifestyle brand that epitomizes our childhood summers of living in Fair Harbor. This connection between our past and present brought the brand to life in a whole new way. Our passion to preserve Fair Harbor, and similar beach towns, fueled our idea into fruition and simultaneously enact change within our generation.

 Fire Island, US - keeping plastic out of the ocean there

Fire Island, US - keeping plastic out of the ocean there

Fast-forward three years and we are continuing to push forward with Fair Harbor. Since graduating from Colgate, Jake is working on Fair Harbor full time and I am currently a junior at Colgate University, also majoring in geography.

This past semester I studied at the University of Sydney in Australia, and it was clear that the problem of ocean waste doesn’t just exist in the United States. As I walked along the beautiful coastal beaches, in Bondi and Coogee, there were incredible amounts of garbage washing up on the shores. While it was amazing to live in a new culture on the other side of the world, I became even more impassioned to give plastic waste a new fate: our boardshorts.

There are so many pathways that we see Fair Harbor taking in the future; it’s very exciting! We are set to launch a women’s line this upcoming summer that is inspired by my travels abroad.

Stay tuned for more to come!