Brevard Companies Innovate with Stream of Eco-Conciousness
From containers that disappear without a trace to t-shirts made from ocean plastic to recycling worn-out clothing, Brevard County innovators are working hard for the environment.
NOHBO: Plastic-Free Personal Care
As a Viera High School student, the now 22-year-old Ben Stern made it his ministry to wage war against those tiny toiletries bottles so beloved by hotels. He is now CEO of Nohbo, an acronym for No Hair Bottles.
Stern’s young company, headquartered at the Groundswell Startups complex in Melbourne, holds much promise in cutting back plastic waste.
“I came up with the idea of Nohbo after viewing a documentary in my biology class covering the ins and outs of the plastic bottling industry,” Stern said.
“I was horrified to see images of plastic waste engulfing local ecosystems all over the world. I was convinced that just reducing, reusing and recycling did not hold any muster to replacing the need for plastic consumption outright. I tried to come up with a solution whereby products could disappear after use.”
Stern got started with water-soluble shampoo balls, a concept he presented on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and one that earned financial support from Mark Cuban. In addition to shampoo drops, Nohbo manufactures conditioner and body wash drops, plus soap “slips” that melt under water.
“We continue to work on developing new personal care products that are easy to use and that could replace plastic bottles,” Stern said.
Givr: Beyond the Box
Jeremy Bower, founder and CEO of Givr Packaging, thinks outside the box to ascertain that every fiber in the boxes his company makes is replaced at least 20-fold with sustainable tree plantings. Like Stern, Bower’s company operates at Groundswell.
“Our hope was that we could drive a net positive environmental footprint, while still providing kick-ass packaging solutions at or below market price,” said Bower, who has tackled the packaging needs of industry giants Godiva, Disney and Hershey.
Sea Threads: Turning Ocean Plastic into Shirts
Another Groundswell neighbor is turning ocean plastic into a fashion statement.
While a student at Florida Institute of Technology, Dylan Cross began evolving the concept for Sea Threads, performance shirts each made from 1 pound of ocean plastic.
“With so much in our oceans, why not put it to good use instead of continuing to make more?” Cross said.
The shirts themselves are being designed and produced in Florida, each woven for performance with naturally breathable, moisture-wicking, and UV protective qualities. All materials in the shirts are certified for sourcing 100 percent ocean plastic by several standard-setting organizations.
The company’s supply chain partners also are carefully vetted for transparency and ethical working conditions.
The shirts sell for $35 at Seathreads.co/kickstarter. The company anticipates launching two more clothing lines before the end of 2022.
Circ: Recycling Textiles
Also in the eco-warrior fashion industry is Circ, which — you guessed it — has offices at Groundswell. Originally launched as a paper pulp manufacturer by entrepreneurs Peter Majeranowski and Conor Hartman, Circ these days is focusing on recycling textiles. The process combines water, heat, pressure and chemicals to recover 90 percent of the original fabric.
Is there a demand for recycling t-shirts? You bet. Clothing can last a lifetime, but fashion-conscious consumers easily part with off-trend items. According to a BBC report, the average American will discard more than 70 pounds of clothes each year. A study from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation notes that clothing and textiles get dumped in landfills at the rate of a garbage truck’s worth every second. Finding a second life for these unwanted items makes sense.
Circ’s breakthrough in recycling polyester-cotton blends — the textile most used by the fashion industry — piqued interest. Outdoor gear manufacturer Patagonia has invested in Circ and has already used the company to recycle worn-out clothing.
By tackling environmental waste from unexpected angles, Brevard entrepreneurs have developed a win-win formula that helps both Mother Nature and the economy.
“We are proud not only of our environmental impact, but our economic impact, as well,” said Dylan Cross of Sea Threads.