Summer's coming. We promise. That means soon we’ll be hitting the lake and hanging out at the cabin, but before you buy those new swim trunks, you might want to hear about a Minnesota company turning a problem into a solution and creating a wave of change.
Great Lakes Northern Outfitter is nothing if not true to its name.
"All of our products are inspired by life at the lake so anything from t-shirts, sweatshirts, swimsuits, button downs, anything you'd need, whether it's sitting down at a bonfire, or taking a pontoon ride at night,” says Co-founder Spencer Barrett.
The clothing company in Northeast Minneapolis was started by Spencer and his childhood friend David Burke. Two guys who simply love the water.
“That's where the best memories of our lives were. It was really the foundation of our childhood. It's something that is near and dear to us, so it's something we want to protect,” says Spencer.
We've all seen the images of massive amounts of plastic in our oceans. And, as a result, we’ve seen companies and corporations trying to be more socially responsible. But, here’s the thing, all that pollution isn't just an ocean away.
"In the great lakes alone 22 million pounds of plastic is polluted every year,” Spencer tells us.
That fact inspired Great Lakes to again, be true to its name. Their latest design? Swimsuits made from recycled water bottles. Each one made from eight plastic bottles. They are recycled, chopped into pieces, formed into pellets, spun into yarn and then turned into fabric. Four designs have been released with more products to come.
"There are a lot of different things we can make with this fabric which is exciting. T-shirts, long sleeve shirts, we can make baseball hats from it if you can believe it,” says David Burke.
The two men also started the Freshwater initiative. Partnering with a with an organization every year that focuses on preserving and protecting our lakes and waterways. All of this from two guys who started a little company based on a couple of T-shirt designs. But then again, stuff like this always starts small, and soon starts to swell, creating a wave of good intentions.
"This process that we're using for our swimsuits will by no means solve this issue, it's a first step in a series of actions we'll be taking to not only raise awareness but to try to make a significant impact as well,” says Spencer.
Great Lakes sells most of its products direct to consumer online. They also do pop-up stores and will be partnering with the Minnesota Twins at their Gate 34 Experience this summer.