"This is a bag made of PET bottles."
In a shared office on Yanghwa Road, Mapo-gu, Seoul, on the morning of June 3, Wang Jong-mi, 40 years old, shows the reporter a yellow-green knit bag with wrinkles. Named "Pleats Mama," it is a start-up venture company that produces eco-friendly products that reduce carbon dioxide emissions and waste landfills. Her bag has a label called 'Made from plastic bottles' and a trademark called 'Pleats Mama'. It is made from recycled polyester yarn "Regen" extracted from PET bottle. "I can make one bag with 16 bottles of 500ml bottles," she explained.
Production method that does not leave scratched fabric
Ms. Wang became aroused in environmental issues as she raised her child. In order to give a clean environment to the child, she carried out small practices in daily life such as not buying any overpackaged product, using a tumbler, and thoroughly separating the trash collection. Environmental problems began to be seen in the workplace. As a designer in a knitwear company, and she was interested in processing waste such as yarn.
"The company I was working with was a subcontractor handling large company orders. In many times, I ordered the thread, but suddenly my order was changed or canceled. The company is holding that inventory. Since the inventory of orders were over the capacity, the company even provided a larger space to stack them. The yarn that is discarded in a year is worth 700 to 800 million won. It was too bad. I thought there would be a way to recycle the thread."
Wang conceived a business to make a silo wool bag that was discarded at first, but it was not easy to mass-produce with that material. While finding other eco-friendly materials, she found out that she had recycled PET bottles. Wang was worried about how to make knit using Regen. "Clothes or bags that cut cloth are inevitable to be thrown away, but knit is not. I can knit and loosen it, so I do not have to throw it away. It's perfect for making eco-friendly products."
Pleats Mama's bag is made in the same way as a knitted product such as a sweater. It is not a method of cutting and sewing a fabric, but a method of pulling out a desired shape. It is called 'zero waste' (no garbage) design product. The packaging also considered the environment- they use self-adhesive packing materials made of paper instead of using tacky (transparent and soft plastic).
Why did Wang make a bag with environmentally-friendly materials? She needed a bag to carry around comfortably when going to a supermarket or a cafe near her home. "I thought I wanted a bag with an edge that I could carry around with, but not hurt my fashion. It is distinctive and different from an eco bag (eco-friendly bag) or a shopping basket that everyone carries. However, this will was not only held by me. Other people in the neighborhood also had that desire."
Middle school boys are also our customers
Recently, as the 'Plastic Free' campaign took place, the Pleats Mama bag, which was made from recycled PET bottles, searched the mind of consumers. The range of people who buy these bags is eclectic. "Various ages from 20s to 60s use them. Young people buy products and upload pictures on Instagram, Facebook, and Blog. They never forget to add a hashtag: #bagmadeof16PETbottles. There have been more people interested in plastic issues after the last year of garbage disturbance. Often there are people who tell me, 'work hard' with DM (direct message). It is really rewarding and powerful when they feel that they are consuming and feeling moral satisfaction."
One of the customers is a middle school student, son of Wang. The son uses the Pleats Mama bag as a secondary bag for text books, school supplies, worksheets, etc. "My child got environmental education at school, and our product was featured. I was glad that it was introduced as a plastic bag. I was proud to hear it. I made it with the mind of the mother who thinks about the environment and I am happy it is recognized."
Above all, he wanted to break the cliché image of eco-friendly products. "Everyone thinks of a minimalist (minimal) design in terms of green. I want to change that image. The motto of Pleat Mama is "Look Chic, Be Eco." It is one of the stories of the New Yorker article about the role of fashion in the ecocentric aspect and the direction of its future. It is an eco-friendly product, but I wanted to keep it up-to-date from other products in terms of design to make it fashionable and unique."
A Pleats Mama bag is gorgeous with colors that can add points to achromatic garments. "Recycled yarn is twice as expensive as regular yarn. When recycling, separation, washing and other processes are necessary. Still, there are many advantages. I get the color I want and the quality is much better than normal yarn."
Fashion for a beautiful and sustainable life
Upcoming July will be the 1st anniversary of Pleats Mama. Wang is consistently taking steps to make fashionable, practical and sustainable fashion items. "Pleats Mama seeks fashion as a way of life for a beautiful and sustainable life. I would like it to be a brand that helps the environment. I want to give confidence to consumers." Surviving as an eco-friendly brand is the greatest challenge as well as a mission for Pleats Mama.
check out Pleats Mama: http://www.pleatsmama.com/