An eight-year-old boy, Harry Robinson, together with his dad, Nik, launched a crowdfunding campaign in early 2019 to make their vision of turning single-use plastic bottles into sunglasses frames a reality. They raised $61,700 against at $20,000 target from 360 backers.
One million single-use bottles are bought every minute around the world yet very few are recycled. The Robinsons, through their business, Good Citizens, are on a mission to untrash the planet by turning this plastic waste into good.
Nik Robinson says, “We are drowning in plastic trash. My son, Harry, inspired me to act after continually asking what happens to our rubbish. I thought, why can’t we take something like a used plastic soft drink bottle and do something good with it?
“We hit upon sunglasses as they are something that Aussies use every day and are made out of plastic. We wanted to see if we could make them from 100% recycled plastic. We’ve had to re-engineer the hinge of the sunglasses so it too could be made from recycled plastic, making the frames not only 100% recycled but also 100% recyclable. We’re untrashing the planet one bottle at a time.”
Highlighting the origins of the bottles, good citizens sunglasses will launch in Cola, Lemonade and Aqua colours. The sunglasses have been designed in Sydney and will be made in Australia.
Harry Robinson, aged 8, says, “We talk about plastic a lot at school with our teachers. I always collect rubbish off the beaches around us and the harbour with my brother and dad. There’s so much plastic washed up and it’s sad. I feel happy we are using this trash and turning it into something good. My teacher has asked us to make a pink pair for her.”
The journey hasn’t been easy. Unbelievably not many products in Australia are made from 100% recycled PET (including hinges), so Robinson had to seek out partners brave enough to question the status quo of manufacturing and break down the many barriers of using recycled PET in production.
“We’ve been surprised how hard it has been to get to this stage. We’ve prototyped, we’ve tested and we’ve been through multiple design changes to work around using recycled PET. As no one has done this before, we’re breaking new ground,” Robinson continues.
For every pair of sunglasses sold, Good Citizens will pull out 1kg of plastic waste from the ocean through its partner, Proartso. That’s the equivalent weight of 45 plastic bottles.
Sunglasses are only the beginning. Nik and both his sons intend to make many more products out of waste material in the future.