WHAT IT IS?
HowBottle is a brand founded by Ningning Huang, who aims to reduce plastic waste by recycling plastic bottles, and sometimes other types of ‘single-use’ plastics into clothing and bags. The founder used to work in e-commerce prior to starting her company where she witnessed how materialism is creating more and more plastic waste, to the point where the earth could not handle them. Ms. Huang later started Howbottle with a team of young people who wish to use sustainable practices in order to reach their goals. Here, they have discovered how to use rPET’s to their advantage.
*Sidenote: PET is a type of synthetic plastic commonly used to make water bottles, and rPET is what we call recycled PET’s. PET is also a form of polyester, which explains how it can be upcycled into clothes.
Started in 2017, the startup has come up with many different products, and has since upcycled more than 600 000 plastic bottles. HowBottle doesn’t only keep their data to themselves, but also share with consumers what each product is made of and how they have impacted plastic waste. For example, if you choose an item from their online store, the description will tell you how many bottles were used to make it. The “HowBottle 84 Lightyear Backpack”, being sold at $180.00 at the time of writing this, is made with 31 recycled plastic bottles.
During the COVID pandemic, the company struggled a bit since everyone was indoors. During this period, “people shifted their focus to health and emotion management” as Ningning said, which made her feel as if sustainability isn’t as important anymore, compared to what people need at the time. Her team went through lots of ideas, until they decided to reward customers who are helping the environment on their own time. The team ran “stop plastic day”, which allowed guests with Ant Forest Certificates to exchange them for discounts. They also encouraged other users to start using eco-friendly behavior in their day to day operations.
WHY IT´S COOL?
-Dedication to sustainable practices is what sets this clothing brand apart.
-Recycling is sometimes seen as a cheap, cost-cutting practice, while HowBottle is using it to make high quality, high end products, which are fetching a high price tag.
-In 2019, they made a rain jacket with “I don’t care’ written on it’s back. After getting wet, it would show ‘I do care’, which was an attempt to contact the Chinese youth about the effect of plastic waste on them.
-The company is now B corp certified, meaning their operations meet the highest standards of environmental and social impact.
-The HowBottle team is constantly brainstorming ideas over how to impact their customers better, and how to get their message across.
WHY IT HAS FUTURE GROWTH POTENTIAL?
As it stands, HowBottle is a Chinese pioneer, with its eyes set on sustainability and upcycling. They have proven that their true goal is those two terms through their “stop plastic day”, and have also proven that the fashion industry can start integrating rPET’s into their products in order to slowly become more sustainable, or else plastic will start outnumbering fish in the oceans quite soon.