Fair Harbor Recycles 40,000 Plastic Bottles Making Surf Shorts

Fair Harbor recycled 40,000 plastic bottles making surf shorts since their company started in 2015.

The beachwear brand was founded by siblings Jake and Caroline Danehy and channels Fair Harbor, New York, a small beach town on Fire Island where they grew up surfing. The duo have created a brand that’s not only what the cool kids are wearing, they’re sustainably sound.

“There are no cars on the island and during the summer all one needs is a swimsuit and a surfboard and they are set,” says Jake of his inspiration to create gear for people like himself.
Because of their love for the ocean and beaches around the world, Jake and Caroline make all of their swimwear out of recycled plastic bottles. Each short is directly made out of 11 recycled plastic bottles to ensure that fewer bottles end up in our oceans and on our beaches.

We caught up with Jake to talk about new materials, local production and the biggest lesson he’s learned since his company began in 2015.

Tell me about your new up-cycled coconuts/recycled plastic shorts.

Our new fabric consists of 50% recycled plastic bottles, 40% up-cycled coconuts and 10% spandex for stretch. We chose to work with this fabric because we are developing a performance boardshort with the BF+DA P-Lab.  We designed this new short to be perfect for surfing and all rigorous physical activities and incorporated up-cycled coconut husk into this blend because the natural fiber, which is typically a waste product, has amazing properties that lead to better performance and profound durability. Each year nature give us 20 billion coconuts, the inside is used for a multitude of different things from food to cosmetics. In most cases the outside, or husk is discarded and sent to the landfill. We are up-cycling this byproduct to add, comfort, durability and performance properties.

Not to mention coconut fibers fight odor, they breath and they are extremely durable, which will add a whole new element to the performance of our shorts.

Do you know how much plastic you’ve recycled since you started Fair Harbor?

Just under 40,000 plastic bottles.

What’s it been like working so close to production for you?

It has been so amazing to work closely with production. I do not have a design or production background, so the learning curve has been high. I have adapted quick and learned so much along the way. If I outsourced all of our production at the start, our product would have been better early on, but the production and design process of our products will just continue to evolve and improve past our initial expectations.
I am a lifelong surfer and beach goer. So I have had a pretty good idea about what is needed in a board short. I made many mistakes along the way, but have improved tremendously since we first started 3 years ago.

Talk to me about your business since you launched in 2015. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?

The biggest lesson that I have learned about entrepreneurship is that there are going to great days and bad days, you can’t get too high on the good ones or too low on the bad ones. Issues are going to happen with production and as a young company you have to stay on top of customer experience and make sure at all costs the customer is happy.

Want to know more about how Fair Harbor is changing up the apparel industry? Watch this video below:

Fair Harbor Surfing from Fair Harbor on Vimeo.

To learn more about how brands are taking on sustainable strategies, check out the Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator’s Sustainable Fashion Roadmap tool.