Product Review: Osom Brand Socks made from Recycled Textiles

Disclaimer: I was not paid to review this product, nor does this post contain any affiliate links.

What if I told you that you could buy upcycled socks, made from recycled textiles? Does that make you jump for joy and want order some right away? Are you interested to learn more? Or are you skeptical?

Well, I’m here to help.

I first heard about these when the company, Osom Brand, launched its Kickstarter in January 2017. In late 2018, I discovered that not only had they successfully Kickstarted, they also developed an online store. I am reviewing these since I received a pair at Christmas. Aren’t they cute?

Images of Osom Cetus socks. Photo by me.
I love the subtitle, “Wear the Change.” Photos by me.
My Osom socks with whales design. Photo by me.
My Osom socks with whales design. Photo by me.

Overall, I am very pleased with these and I plan to order more in the near future. I’ll review the different aspects of these socks in a moment. But first, check out this video about the founder and the company’s process:

There’s also an excellent Forbes article about the founder and the company here.

Comfort

These are quite comfortable and they do not slip down as some socks do. I’ve seen one or two complaints about the elasticity of these socks since they are one size fits all (in a size range). Indeed they are not very stretchy compared to other socks. For me, once they are on, this is not an issue.

Price point

These socks cost between $16.00 and $18.00 per pair. While that cost is high compared to other socks made from new materials, the cost to the environment is low. That makes the cost worth it for me.

Environmental impact

The company asserts that its process is waterless. It takes more than 700 gallons of water to produce a conventional cotton t-shirt, and that does not include the water it takes to grow the cotton. That’s enough water for one human to drink for 2 and a half years!

This process reduces the use of pesticides, which harm the environment and pollute our waters.

Buying recycled textiles products reduces textile waste. I’ll explain more about this below.

Osom Brand does not use dyes, which prevents water pollution because there is no toxic dye waste being poured into drains or pumped into rivers.

Materials

The materials are not 100% plastic-free. They are 85% recycled textiles with small percentages of spandex and nylon (spandex and nylon are both plastic fabrics). The trademarked name of their fiber blended yarn is OSOMTEX and it changes based on consumer demand and textile availability.

But the company is not claiming their yarns to be plastic or polyester free. Their goals are to promote a circular economy in the textile industry. “At OSOMTEX®, we repurpose millions of pounds of discarded post-consumer and post-industrial textile waste directly from brands and the general supply chain to create high-quality upcycled yarns and fabrics.” Repurposing is a great way to support environmental and human health.

Packaging

The socks arrived almost plastic-free, except for the little black plastic holder at the top. I plan to write an email to the company to request they stop using the plastic holder.

Plastic hold from the socks. Photo by me.
Plastic holder from the socks. Photo by me.

Why is this a big deal?

We. Waste. Clothes.

In the United States, we throw millions of pounds of textiles into landfills per year – about 81 pounds per person! That does not include the heaps of clothing we donate, consign, or give away to friends and family.

In the United States “fast fashion” refers to our quick cycle of fashion trends changing. So we want cheap clothing. In turn, this means it is usually made cheaply and quickly. That same clothing wears out fast from wear and the harsh chemicals from fabric softeners and detergents. Then we discard last season’s items as quickly as we can to “keep up” with the current styles. This cycle allows us to consume and shop more.

Clothing rack. Photo by Artem Bali from Pexels.
Photo by Artem Bali from Pexels.

We can do better!

What if we decided to buy less clothing that is higher quality? Or buy most of our clothing second hand? Clothing that is more timeless or classic, instead of keeping up with fashion trends? This is an area where we all have great power to generate great change.

It takes a ton of energy and insane amounts of water to generate all of that new fashion. There are tons of articles online you can read about this, but I’ll share two of the best ones I found here and here.

I even found articles about large clothing retailers destroying their own unsold clothing at the end of the fashion cycle, to “protect the value of the brand name” and “prevent fraudulent returns.” That seems crazy to me, in a world where so many people go without adequate clothing. I don’t want to give my money to any company that participates in those practices.

Why buy recycled textiles?

I know there are some who will say that only 100% natural, organic textiles are the answer, and I don’t disagree. There are problems with plastic microfibers reaching our oceans from just washing those fabrics in the washing machine.  But with all that we waste, why not support visionary concepts like this?

There are many things we can do to make a difference.

I think that there is never just one answer or one solution to any environmental or social problem. Let’s all do what we can to be the change. We can buy less brand new clothing. Or purchase less clothing in general and snub “fast fashion.” We can obtain clothing second hand. We can buy items upcycled from old materials like these socks. We can even be minimalists and zero wasters.

Whatever you choose to do, just by starting today, will make a difference. Thanks for reading.

The end of single-use plastics in the European Union!

Globe showing Europe. Photo by Tom Grimbert on Unsplash.
Photo by Tom Grimbert on Unsplash.

This is exciting news!

Have you heard that the European Union has passed landmark legislation that will ban single-use plastics like straws and forks and plates beginning in 2021? This is going to have a major impact worldwide!

According to a Forbes article, “the aim of the directive, which is part of the European Plastics Strategy, is to protect the environment and reduce marine litter by avoiding the emission of 3.4 million tonnes of CO2.” But it will also avoid an estimated $24.9 billion in environmental damages by 2030.

Plastic is harmful to all life forms

Globally, plastics make up 85% of marine litter according to the European Commission. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF, formerly the World Wildlife Fund) reported that plastics account for 95% in the Mediterranean Sea. “And plastics are even reaching people’s lungs and dinner tables, with micro-plastics in the air, water and food having an unknown impact on their health.” It’s going through the entire food chain.

Illustration of clean vs. polluted ocean. Photo by Wild0ne on Pixabay,
Photo by Wild0ne on Pixabay,

Plastic production has increased exponentially since 1960, with the current global production of 322 million tons. That is expected to double in the next 20 years! Perhaps actions and legislation like this will reverse this growth and waste.

If you read my post about plastic straws, then you know that they are causing environmental problems along with many other single-use disposable plastics. Besides the sheer amount of waste, plastics are harming marine life and posing risks to human health.

Plastic waste and fishing waste are affecting our birds and marine life. Photo by A_Different_Perspective on Pixabay.
Plastic waste and fishing waste are affecting our birds and marine life. Photo by A_Different_Perspective on Pixabay.

Here are some facts from the WWF report on how marine life is harmed by human use of plastics:

  • Animals mistake plastics for foods.
  • Plastic releases up to 30 times more contaminants when it is present in body tissue like the intestines. Those contaminants can cause liver damage or hormones disruption.
  • Today 90% of seabirds have plastic fragments in their stomachs.
  • Over 90% of the damage caused to marine wildlife by human waste is due to plastics.
  • Globally, there are about 700 marine species threatened by plastics, some of which are endangered species.
  • Worldwide, 344 species have been found trapped in plastics! This can be fatal either from drowning or from becoming easy prey.
  • Plastics can cause injuries and deformities.
  • In general, all the fishing gear that is abandoned, lost or discarded at sea (lines, nets, traps) causes damage to wildlife, trapping and killing fish and other marine animals – a phenomenon known as “ghost fishing”.
  • Plastics have also infiltrated the world of the microscopic. Zooplankton (the small organisms at the base of the marine food chain) involuntarily feed on plastic fragments smaller than 1mm. These fragments can contain toxic substances: by ingesting them the zooplankton transmit them up the food chain, all the way to humans.

The Blue Planet

If you love the Earth’s oceans, you’ll enjoy The Blue Planet series. In 2017, Blue Planet II was released and features the hazards of plastics on marine life. In the video below, David Attenborough, the writer and narrator of many BBC natural history documentaries, said he hoped that Blue Planet II would “open people’s eyes to the damage we are doing to our oceans.” I’m sure their contributions have helped!

Both The Blue Planet and Blue Planet II are available on Netflix.

Leading the Way

“Single-use plastics are not a smart economic or environmental choice,” said Vice-President Jyrki Katainen of the European Commission. “This is an opportunity for Europe to lead the way, creating products that the world will demand for decades to come, and extracting more economic value from our precious and limited resources.” It’s so refreshing to see leaders in the world making plastic waste reduction a priority!

Plastic waste on a beach. We can stop this from happening! Photo by hhach on Pixabay.
Plastic waste on a beach. We can stop this from happening! Photo by hhach on Pixabay.

Companies will listen to you

Here in the United States, know that you can take action too. Companies follow supply and demand. So if many people are demanding a company to use less plastic or provide reusable containers, the company will listen! Write, call, or email the companies you purchase from and ask that they use less disposable plastic packaging.

Recently, a few large companies including Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Pepsi, and Nestlé are introducing reusable packaging for certain products in an attempt to phase out single-use plastics. This is also for public relations because they don’t want to be viewed as giant contributors to the pollution problem. Better late than never, I guess. But this shows that they’re listening to us (or at least watching their sales)!

In a press release just last week, Procter & Gamble (P&G) announced “the introduction of reusable, refillable packaging on some of its most popular products as part of a new effort that aims to change the world’s reliance on single-use packaging and disposable waste.”

P&G has formed a partnership with Loop, a company that ships products in reusable aluminum containers that you ship back for reuse. Loop was developed by Terracycle. Sounds cool, right? It’s launching in Spring of 2019, and you have to “Reserve your spot in line” on Loop’s website. So it won’t necessarily be available to everyone and it won’t be available at the store you where you shop. It’s still a start. I signed up and I fully plan to review it so you can know more about it!

Refuse single-use disposable plastic! Photo by Elijah O'Donnell on Unsplash.
Refuse single-use disposable plastic! Photo by Elijah O’Donnell on Unsplash.

What You Can Do!

The best thing you can always do is this: REFUSE plastic containers. I have stopped buying 90% of the items I used to because they only come in plastic containers. And my life is pretty much the same. Once in a while, I really have to search for a product in glass or metal, but it’s just become the norm for me. You can do this too!

There’s got to be more change – we can do it! What are you currently doing to reduce or refuse plastic? Leave me a comment below!

As always, thank you for reading.

This post does not contain any affiliate links.

Book review: “Everything That Remains” by The Minimalists

Everything That Remains A Memoir by The Minimalists book coverI recently wrote a post about the film Minimalism, about two guys named Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, a.ka. The Minimalists. I recently rewatched their film and then discovered their TED Talks, which led me to their books. This is the first one by them that I’ve read. I’ve also begun listening to their podcasts.

I found this book impactful in ways I didn’t expect. I expected it to be a story leading up to the film (this was published in 2014, the film released in 2016). Or a detailed version of their minimalism journey. And while it was both of those, it was so much more.

The book covered the mindset of minimalism almost poetically at times, and I found myself quoting their words and ideas frequently. The book isn’t just about Minimalism in regards to physical possessions. It’s about living your life with the understanding that relationships are more valuable than material possessions. And making sure the possessions you do have add value to your life. Minimalism can make your life easier, less stressful, and more fulfilling.

Here are a few of the quotes/ideas which spoke most strongly to me:

“The American dream really just seems to imply that we are fat and in debt, discontented and empty, every man an island, leaving a void we attempt to fill with more stuff.”

I know before my husband and I got married, we knew we didn’t want to buy a huge house or buy fancy cars. We wanted no debt and we strive for financial freedom. While we’re not there yet, we’ve moved closer to those goals. We want to find contentment in other ways.

“Most organizing is nothing more than well-planned hoarding.”

I spent years organizing, thinking, and believing that it was the answer. Now I know that you don’t need to spend much time organizing if you don’t have too many items to cram into a closet or into a drawer. And less time “organizing” means more time with my family. I’m looking forward to the hours I’ll add back to my life once I’m not “organizing” and cleaning all my stuff.

“As children we asked ‘what if?’ with optimism. As adults, we ask ‘what if?’ out of fear.”

Child running through meadow. Photo by Rodolfo Sanches Carvalho on Unsplash.
Photo by Rodolfo Sanches Carvalho on Unsplash.

I personally know this to be true because I have observed my young son who creatively asks me “What if?” out of optimism all the time. Admittedly, when I ask that question, it’s out of worry. That’s something that I hope to change.

“No one gets to the end of their life and wishes they had bought more stuff. Most people wish they had had more time with loved ones.”

This is obvious but true as well! Sometimes we need the obvious stated to make us think. And that’s what this book does – it makes you think about all aspects of our lifestyles.

Millburn and Nicodemus pose questions, like how many clothes do you really wear? Do you really need a giant house that is full of furnishings and has more than TVs than people living there? Why do we work at a job or career for years and decades to buy stuff we don’t really need? All to stave off doing the things we really want to do until retirement.

Do you know that retirement age is 70 now?

My favorite thing in the book is a rule, that the Minimalists use, in regards to each possession. They ask, “Does this item add value to my life?”

I really think asking this question makes you focus on each item and think about whether or not you need it. My husband likes that the question is frank and easy to remember.

While all of those ideas seem simple, few of us in American culture are raised to practice them in our daily lives. Instead, we are raised to get more stuff, faster cars, and bigger houses. I want my family to have a happy life. Not a frenzied, busy, cluttered life. Maybe it’s time we rethink all of this. I know I am. Thanks for reading.

Plant in vase. Photo by Sarah Dorweiler on Unsplash.
Photo by Sarah Dorweiler on Unsplash.
This post does not contain any affiliate links.

Support “The Story of Plastic”

Rubber duckies are actually made of plastic. Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash
Rubber duckies are actually made of plastic. Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash

Have you ever heard of The Story of Stuff? It’s a 20-minute film that is “a fast-paced, fact-filled explanation of the consumerist economy.” It began with the writer and the founder of The Story of Stuff Project, Annie Leonard. She’s an amazing person and a leader in environmental and social issues. It is 100% worth your time to watch, I promise!

The Story of Story Project has since come out with more than a dozen high-quality short documentary films that explain the relationship between consumer products and environmental problems. But their newest one is really exciting!!! It’s called…

The Story of Plastic

“These days, more and more of our Stuff is being made from one very problematic material: plastic.” They want to tell the hidden stories surrounding plastic. The production, the pollution, the health hazards. This is their first feature-length film. Here’s a trailer for their film:

Do we need another film about plastic?

Yes, we do. There aren’t enough of them. The ones that do exist are really good and the message is getting out, but we need even more people to hear and see and understand the message: Plastic is ruining our environment, poisoning us (cancer, endocrine and thyroid diseases, etc.), and littering our landscape. The Earth is SO Beautiful – don’t we want it to stay that way?

And recycling is not the answer because only 9% of our plastic is actually getting recycled! That means 91% is ending up in landfills, the ocean, the rivers and lakes, beaches, parks, and our neighborhoods. It even ends up in our food and water that we drink.

plastic waste environment, Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash
Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash

The Story of Stuff Project is fundraising to complete this project. Please help me support this worthy cause. They are asking people to become “a Plastic Insider by starting a recurring monthly donation supporting The Story of Plastic production fund today.” There are insider perks: your name will be in the credits of the film and you gain access to behind the scenes videos. Here’s a video of supporters who spend their lives on a sailboat:

I signed up as a monthly, recurring donor today. Can you help too? You can also make a one-time donation in any amount you’d like. And if you’re really ambitious, you can create your own Facebook fundraiser!

“The Story of Plastic isn’t just a movie. It’s a call to action.”

Are you as excited about this film as I am? Leave a comment below! Thank you for reading.

Update 04/30/2020: This film has been released! It’s available on amazon.com and other places listed on the Story of Plastic’s website. I can’t wait to watch it!