Hampstead mumpreneur makes children’s swimwear from recycled plastic
- Credit: Archant
The BBC’s Blue Planet II has heralded a sea-change in attitudes towards plastic waste in our oceans.
But one Hampstead mumpreneur was already switched on to the issue of recycling the tonnes of debris dumped in the sea each year.
Sarah Stafford’s children’s swimwear line Noma is made from ‘ghost’ fishing nets recovered from the ocean floor - and protects young skin from the harmful effects of the sun.
The former private equity lawyer has been working on the idea since 2016.
“I found this fantastic fabric made from recycled fishing nets and I love the idea that it’s cleansing the ocean and going back into the ocean in a postive way to protect kid’s skin,” she says.
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Recyling organisation Healthy Seas uses divers and local fishermen to locate and free abandoned commercial fishing nets from the ocean floor; then floats them to the surface with balloons. They are then recycled into socks, swimwear and carpets.
“Since Blue Planet II everyone is suddenly aware of the poor state of our oceans,” says the mum-of-two.
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“Ghost nets are not visible on the surface but account for 10-20 percent of the waste in our oceans. They are dangerous to turtles and other large marine mammals who become trapped in them, and when they snag on coral reefs it effects the eco-system.”
The nets are shred and re-spun into a polyamide yarn and combined with lycra to make swimwear with UPF50+ protection. Stafford adds: “I’m not creative and I have no contacts in the fashion industry. This came about because our family like to go on holiday with guaranteed sunshine. I have a five and an eight year old and I’ve always been nervous about protecting their skin, but disappointed by the quality of protective swimwear on the High Street and the garish nature of very gendered designs with pirates or Hello Kitty. I thought maybe I can do something better.” She points out that skin cancer is the fastest rising type of cancer, linked to sunburn in early life.
“Younger children and babies hate the feel of suncream, instead of constantly worrying and reapplying it, protective sunwear lets you get on with your holiday.”
For ages from 6 months-11 years, Stafford’s separates and all in ones in gender neutral styles and colours, can be passed between siblings. She also offers 5 percent off new swimwear if you return old costumes for recycling.
“This fabric doesn’t biodegrade so I really think it’s the future for swimwear. We can’t keep using up the earth’s resources then chucking stuff into landfill.”