Shop Sustainable: SOS Activewear
With activewear being one of those items that you need to be good quality, it is often difficult to find second-hand. UK-based SOS Activewear is a sustainable alternative, with each of their quality pieces being made from reclaimed ocean plastics, and designed to last. I spoke to Bronte, the owner, about her company and her own journey towards sustainability.
First off, tell me a little bit about yourself, what your business is about and why you started it?
My name is Bronte and I am the Founder of SOSActivewear a functional, stylish and reliable activewear brand that supports both you and the environment simultaneously. Our products are each made from regenerated ocean plastic including fishing nets, plastic bottles and even discarded carpets that are both rescued from our oceans or stopped in their tracks before entering our seas and transformed into beautiful activewear. I have always had a huge passion for our planet and everyday I am pained by the amount of plastic humans use and the devastating effects this has on our environment and its inhabitants, so by combining this passion with my drive to run my own business and love for fitness came SOS. I hope this brand can encourage others to shop more consciously and shine a light on all the different ways you can be more kind to our planet, not forgetting our own bodies and encouraging a healthier lifestyle but providing activewear that makes you feel good whilst working out.
How did you get into sustainability? Were there any particular stories or events that resonated with you enough to change your habits?
Since a very young age my dad has always loved nature and would always teach my sister and I how to be kinder to our planet. He would pick up other people’s litter, rescue any animals including the bumble bees that were in obvious distress or in need of help and we had a separate bin for recycling before it became the norm at home. I even designed a game when I was about 6 years old that consisted of driving a car and picking up litter that was strewn across the side of the road to get points! So I suppose sustainability has always been a part of me. If I had to pinpoint a moment where I was really taken back by our plastic crisis, it was when I went for an early morning walk in Cornwall along the beachfront and I saw first-hand just how much plastic had washed up from our seas overnight; this included many everyday items we are all responsible for using like plastic bottles, fishing nets, tampon applicators and toothpaste caps - I already use a mooncup and reusable bottle and from that day forward I now use toothpaste tablets in a glass container amongst other plastic free swaps.
Can you tell me a bit about how you have made your business practices sustainable?
From day one SOS has been built around sustainability. My first challenge was to source a fabric that contributed to our ocean’s ecosystem and recovery, and the fabric we use quite literally rescues ocean plastic from our seas and is regenerated into its original purity before being transformed into our activewear. I then wanted to look beyond just the fabric we use and ensure every other possible element of the business is as sustainable and planet friendly as possible and this includes, plastic free packaging and distribution where our packaging is 90% recycled and 100% recyclable, carbon neutral shipping, ethical manufacturing in the UK to reduce our carbon footprint and ensure fair pay and working conditions, as well as planting a tree with every order through our website. I am always looking for ways we can do even more and always value ideas and feedback in this space.
Are there any areas of your business that just can’t be made sustainable?
Shipping is of course a challenge however we are proud to offer carbon neutral shipping in order to further reduce our carbon footprint. The biggest challenge is buying supplies from other businesses and not having control over their own packaging and distribution. Where possible I request deliveries to be plastic free and seek out businesses that have the same ethos as our own which certainly helps but it isn't always perfect. I am also aware of the microplastics that escape through our washing machines into the environment and encourage our customers to invest in wash bags that prevent this and continue to explore fabric alternatives that eliminate this problem, when the technology exists we will be first in line!
Do you hope to expand your business in future or are you happy with where you are at?
At the moment I run the business on my own and I'm working really hard to get the brand in front of more people, but it is still small and there is a huge amount of potential for growth. SOS will not ever be the same as larger corporations bringing out new collections every other month or even week as we believe in timeless pieces that are made to last and the amount of waste associated with regular collections and following brief trends is not something we want to be involved in, however, I would love to see SOS expand into menswear in the future and become more internationally known. Sustainable brands are the future and we want to lead that change.
What has been your favourite part about running your business so far?
As the business is still very small it is a complete joy every single time I get a new order through, I don't think that excitement will fade for a long time and I love packing each order with a personalised note to say thank you for supporting SOS. Knowing the brand and business provides people with high quality sustainable activewear as an alternative to fast fashion brands and that with every order we are helping the planet is also a brilliant feeling.
What is the one cause that you are most passionate about in terms of sustainability/environmentalism?
Healthy Seas is a fantastic organisation and I also really love what Sky Ocean Rescue are working towards and their collaboration with WWF, they recently built a robot shark that eats up to 60kg of waste at a time! I also closely work with one tree planted and love what those guys are up to and closer to home in the UK Beach Guardians do an amazing job of generating awareness around plastic waste and encourage the protection of our beaches in Cornwall and Devon.
How do you think people should go about promoting sustainability in their everyday lives?
I am a real believer that small swaps make a big difference such as a reusable water bottles, tupperware, cutlery, coffee cups, shopping bags, toothpaste tablets, beeswax wraps, soda stream, natural deodorants and detergents etc. My advice would be to make these small changes and actively encourage your friends and family to do the same. Never feel embarrassed by asking bar staff to fill up your bottle or use your own tupperware and I even take my own stainless steel pint cups to the pub with me now to avoid the disposable cups they often use. I would also suggest challenging your favourite shops and brands to do more if you feel they could make better choices because the likelihood is, they probably can and your voice as a customer should be their most valued asset and if they are not actively making changes I encourage you to seek sustainable alternatives and support businesses that are working towards a better future.
All images courtesy of @sosactivewear on Instagram.