When the company launched in 2010, they made a bold claim: for every individual product they sold, they would pick up a pound of trash. It’s incredible to report they have since picked up over 1 million pounds of garbage. 1,015,862 pounds to be exact. Even the guys at United By Blue are a little blown away. “When I first started at United By Blue three years ago, one million pounds wasn’t even in the five year plan,” says Kelly Oner, Head of Cleanups. “We couldn’t have reached this milestone without the tremendous amount of support we’ve received from the community, our volunteers, and our public and private partners.”
It all started in Philadelphia back in 2010 in the very same week they sold their first t-shirt. The Schuylkill River was the first recipient of their cleanup efforts and ever since they’ve been growing participation and collection. They’ve organized 177 cleanups in 26 states and they continue to expand. These cleanups are no joke– they’re not just picking up cans and bottles, oh, no. They’ve done cleanup battle against tires, appliances, and even abandoned trucks.
This landmark achievement is certainly something to be celebrated and appreciated, but we humans are giving them plenty more work to do. Each year we dump 8 million tons of plastic into our waterways and there’s a floating garbage patch in the Pacific twice the size of Texas. Let’s definitely mess with that garbage patch. A whopping 1.5 million tons of that is just plastic bottles. (There are some really cool reusable bottles out there!) They’re showing no signs of slowing the fight against this onslaught and you’re welcome to join in! Local cleanups are listed on their site and are fun, impactful events.
United By Blue takes their cleanup efforts a step further by using lots of recycled materials in their clothing and good. For example, their recycled polyester reuses all those nasty plastic bottles. Even 75% of their office supplies are are recycled. Plus, they give their employees paid time off to participate in community service projects, much like their cleanups.
Here’s to a million pounds and counting…