How Paul & Shark Is Saving Our Seas
Spurred by the amount of plastic plaguing Italy’s beaches, the brand launched Save the Sea, an initiative focused on turning the tide in our battle against waste.
Fuelled by a shared passion to raise awareness around dumping waste in the ocean, Save the Sea is a concept launched by Paul & Shark in collaboration with Sardinia, Italy, artist Annarita Serra.
“The idea started a couple of years ago when I was on vacation in Sardinia, which has some of the most wonderful beaches in the world,” begins Andrea Dini, CEO and president of the Italian-based brand Paul & Shark, at a Save the Sea special event in Toronto. “These beaches were full of plastic rubbish. Because plastic doesn’t break down and it would take many years to create a solution that does, I thought we could at least do something for the plastic that’s already there.”
From there, Dini, eager to make a difference, contacted a Japan-based firm working on developing a yarn made of recycled polyester. While the original prototype that was presented six months later was unwearable, breaking apart within minutes, he remained undeterred and, before long, was able to roll out a solution. That solution is here and is what makes up part of the Save the Sea initiative. More specifically, it is a cotton T-shirt and recycled polyester bomber completely derived from plastic bottles collected and processed in Italy. “Paul & Shark is one of the true environmentally sensitive fashion companies out there,” says Larry Rosen, CEO of Harry Rosen, who both attended and hosted the event at Harry Rosen’s Bloor Street West location. “They are committed to sustainability, to organic cotton, and it’s wonderful to throw an event and celebrate their initiatives … Business is important, but if you can’t look beyond that to important issues like the environment that affect us, our children and our grandchildren, you’re missing something very important.”
“In life I have two dreams. One to become an artist and another to save the seas. Here, I’m trying to bring them together” — Annarita Serra
The Save the Sea initiative doesn’t end there. Born in Sardinia, Serra is an artist dedicated to creating art pieces and installations from waste gathered from beaches. For Save the Sea, she is creating artwork that will be sold at auction, with the proceeds donated to Canadian environmental charity Swim Drink Fish. “I started about 20 years ago,” Serra explains. “With my work I went to New Zealand and, being born by the sea, came back to find so much plastic on the beaches. I didn’t know what it was, and no one was talking about it 20 years ago, so I started to collect it and create art with it.”
The work itself is nothing short of impressive. In her atelier, which is based in Milan, she glues, nails and drills the collected rubbish together to give it not just new life, but also a new appreciation and perspective. “In life, I have two dreams,” she continues. “One to become an artist and another to save the seas. Here, I’m trying to bring them together.”
While Dini is dedicated to protecting the oceans through his work with Paul & Shark today, his eyes are also set firmly on the future. “Five years ago, I asked my product team to use only organic cotton and they did,” he continues. “Now I’m asking them, in three years, that 100 per cent of our outerwear be made from recycled fabrics. I’m fully confident that one day we will come back here and tell you that 100 per cent of our collections are fully sustainable.”
He’s also someone who feels optimistic about the future and believes that, if we work together, there’s still time to instigate serious change. “If you go to a supermarket or grocery story, find the products without c packaging,” he advises. “Choose them and that will act as a strong message. Also, pay attention to water consumption. In the future, that will be a huge problem, so while you’re brushing your teeth, turn the tap off. When you shower, take half the time.
“Now, we are trying to protect the oceans. The other problem is protecting the fish, and so next year we are carefully selecting the right foundations to work with on protecting sharks in the water. We want to protect the ocean from both sides: the water and what lives there.”