The founder of Ecoalf produces down jackets, sweatshirts, backpacks and shoes from plastic bottles, fishing nets, coffee grounds. It teaches us that fashion can also help the world survive.
He recycled 70 million plastic bottles and 60 tons of fishing nets. It produces quality yarns by collecting waste from the sea floor. Javier Goyeneche, 46, Spanish from Madrid, decided four years ago to sell his previous business and open a clothing and accessories company made from 100% recycled fabrics. Down jackets, bags, shoes are made from plastic bottles, coffee grounds, fishing nets, tires. A sustainable company: from yarn to fabric, from fabric to product. Up to the Madrid store, built entirely with recycled materials. “When I started this adventure I didn’t know anything, I learned everything on the field”.
How was the idea of Ecoalf born?
«It was 2009 and I was walking along the coast of Asturias, in the north of Spain, when I met a fisherman. He told me of the amount of trash his nets pulled up every day, and the frustration of having to throw them back into the sea. The meeting changed my life. It made me reflect on the enormous amount of waste that is produced, but also on how natural resources are used excessively. The solution lay in recycling. I sold my previous company (Fun & Basics, which made accessories, ed) to create a completely sustainable clothing brand. My son Alfredo was also being born at that time. I called it Ecoalf, because it is to the children that we should leave this planet “.
What was the first step?
“Look for fabrics that were made from recycled materials. But there were very few on the market and those few were of poor quality. So I decided to go on a trip around the world in search of suppliers. I have talked to many people, companies and artisans. Until, many months later, in Taipei I met Mrs. Desie, who made rugs from recycled plastic in her shop. With her I started developing the first yarns. During that trip I found about 15 companies, with which I started collaborating ».
Did this research involve any costs?
“Yup. I invested one million euros in research and development, out of a total of 6 million in investment. For a small part I used my savings, for the rest I had to involve investors. Revenues in 2015 were 3.5 million, in 2016 6 million, but we still have to grow. And to do so, people’s awareness of buying this kind of products must increase ».
What must be communicated?
“We are using natural resources in an amount 5 times greater than what the Earth produces. To work a kg of cotton, which we all think is the natural fiber par excellence, 2,500 liters of water are used. On the other hand, recycling cotton is a process that does not require water. To get the yarn from oil 17 chemical passages are needed, from fishing nets only 7. Innovation means saving water and energy ».
What is the way to success?
«Believe in what you do, put passion into it. Do things differently from others. Innovation can be the way. But remember that innovating means not only doing new things, but also doing old ones in a new way ».