Today, our goal with GR8LKS is in keeping with exactly what we’ve always tried to do as an apparel brand company – inspire others to work together for cleaner great lakes, one minute at a time.
When Pete and I decided to start the company, we did it to start a company that had a social conscience. A company that finds a way to give back from day one and to build a community, not just a brand.
We didn’t just want to be like every other apparel company by promising just some of our profits to help preserve the Great Lakes using non-ecofriendly materials, but to center our vision on the incentive of putting our money toward a greater cause — one that can be monetized on a visible scale through our $1 = 1minute promise.
Our promise was created due to the growing problem of marine debris. The overall ecosystem health is gravely affected by the accumulation of trash and plastics in our great lakes. Marine debris ingestion and entanglement directly impacts marine life. Additionally, the mere presence of marine debris can disrupt an entire food web through its indirect impacts. Marine debris is an eyesore along shorelines and it degrades the beauty of the coastal environment and, in many cases, may cause economic loss if an area is a popular tourist destination.
Our team plans to constantly move along the Great Lakes coastline to help keep all beaches and Great Lakes clean one minute at a time. We plan to host both onshore and offshore cleanups. Onshore beach cleanups are an effective way to prevent trash from entering the Great Lakes whereas offshore cleanups are very effective to remove trash that has already entered the Great Lakes.
We also use materials that are made using a combination of certified organic cotton and recycled polyester (RPET) or 100% certified organic cotton. RPET stands for Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate, or recycled PET. RPET is made from recycled polyesters, recycled plastics and pure, 100% organic cotton; RPET fabric blends are usually in a 50/50 ratio. Furthermore, 90% less water is used in the making of RPET clothing, dramatically decreasing negative environmental impact. Our products that contain RPET yarn are made using recycled bottles. The amount of bottles per style may vary. 51 billion plastic bottles go to the landfills annually and it will take 700 years before plastic bottles in landfills start to decompose. Recycling 1 ton of RPET containers saves 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space with RPET polyester fabric also having a 50% lower carbon footprint than organic cotton.
It wasn’t too long ago when conventionally grown cotton was the only method in cotton farming. This method, however, accounted for over 10% total pesticide use and nearly 25% of insecticides used worldwide. There is no doubt it created a lot of harm for people, wildlife and the environment. Growing organic cotton takes longer, requires more skill and currently costs more, but we at GR8LKS think it’s worth it.
By focusing on these fundamentals since the beginning, we can make the biggest difference and, most importantly, help to educate and improve the great lake environment one minute at a time—turning the cycle of marine debris into a circle of prosperity.
Andrew P. Mann, Co-Founder