The Story Behind Club Kokomo: Why Eco-Friendly Towels?
Club Kokomo was started with an idea in mind.
To start a new business, that causes no harm to the planet and has not only a neutral but a positive impact on the planet.
Our mission is to make exciting zero waste products that work better for both consumer and the environment.
It was around the release time of Blue Planet 2 that me and my partner Sophie were becoming increasingly aware of the devastation of plastic pollution caused by human impact on the planet. We had always been aware of human impact on the planet of course, but always felt powerless to do anything about it.
Through the realisation that big business is destroying the earth on a global scale I decided that I could use my background in business and entrepreneurship to create a new kind of business & put some power into our own hands.
If bad business practices have the potential to destroy the planet then more conscientious business practices can be the saviour.
One small business has the potential to help solve one big problem at a time. Alone we would be powerless but with countless individuals, charities and businesses working together towards creating a better world Club Kokomo can be a part of something much bigger than ourselves.
Through Dan Burgees podcast The Spaceship Earth I found this quote following on from his metaphorical concept that we are all on this spaceship together, with a limited amount of resources and we must all work together and do our bit to keep it flying.
“There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew.” – Marshall McLuhan
We did everything we could when researching our product to ensure that we are doing our bit in creating a more sustainable future whilst providing a superior product that customers will love without any compromise to the natural world that we live in.
Why eco-friendly towels?
How did we choose quick drying organic cotton beach & shower towels? The truth is, it's more like these towels chose us. Me (Dean) and partner Sophie decided to start a business to free ourselves from the 9-5 lives we were currently living. That was the start of the plan, a blank canvas.
We decided to put our love of adventure & the natural world first and to create a product that would somehow benefit the environment. Upon researching products, we looked for something that was currently popular but in need of an eco-friendly makeover. That's when we stumbled upon the quick drying towel, a great product for the consumer but not great for the environment as all the towels we found that offered benefits such as quick drying and sand free were all made from microfibre.
Micro-plastic pollution and what lead us to beach towels as a way of doing our bit on spaceship earth.
Microfibre is a cause of micro-plastic pollution as tiny synthetic fibres are released into our waterways when they are washed. These in turn end up in rivers, oceans, fish and other marine life.
Of all the plastic pollution in our oceans 30% of this is made up of microplastics. Tiny broken-down plastic particles which are released into the oceans through our water systems. These tiny plastics were famously found in products such as shower gels and banned for the pollution they caused. Less famously these particles also take up a lot of our wardrobe space!
Microfibres have also been found in the air we breathe as well as the oceans and this is not only true for big cities. New research indicates microfibres/ plastics have been taken by the wind from big cities like Barcelona to far off locations such as the French Pyrenees. This same research shows that hundreds of new particles are being found in each square meter every day.
Plastic fabrics such as polyester contain millions of microscopic plastic particles known as microfibres and when we wash these clothes thousands of microplastics are released into our water systems, most of them small enough to fit through filtration systems, ending up in waterways, rivers, oceans and even more sadly, the bellies of marine life.
One solution for the eco conscious person is to buy (& use) a GuppyFriend washbag. This bag has its own filtration system catching these particles and stopping them from entering the water systems through your washing machine or sink. This solution is a good step, especially for someone like me, that as it turns out has a lot of polyester sportswear but it’s not a perfect solution.
A second solution is to use more natural materials and to eventually fade out the production of new polymer fabrics altogether.
Recycled plastic is a more sustainable clothing option, but it doesn’t eliminate the microplastics problem.
Perhaps a better use of recycled plastic would be to make more solid, long lasting products. For example products such as the RCup or the Bureo sunglasses & skateboards.
How did we choose what materials to use?
We love our blue planet and went about designing a product that was superior in usage, a fair price, ethically produced, plastic free and good for the environment. Fast forward 6 Months of samples and countless emails later, we had finally developed a product we were happy with and the Club Kokomo Quick Drying Eco Towel was born.
After time spent researching different fibres and textiles and finding hemp to be (unfortunately) too expensive to source and bamboo to not always be so eco-friendly under the surface, we finally went back to square one realising that a quick dry and sand free towel (despite many marketing claims) CAN be made using cotton.
As far as cotton goes this can be a material that is great for the environment or a disaster as modern agriculture has developed into an unnatural machine that pumps out high production, with low labour, at high costs to the environment, dousing cotton fields with harmful pesticides and insecticides. This in turn destroys the fertility of the soil and is bad for earths natural eco-system.
Organic cotton however is the opposite. We decided to make our towels with GOTS certified organic cotton, which is sourced near our manufacturer in Turkey. Organic cotton is better for you and the environment as it is grown without pollutants and pesticides, focusing instead on creating healthy soil. Healthy soil acts like a sponge, soaking up more water during floods and retaining it for longer during droughts.
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain.
To be extra sure no harmful chemicals end up will end up on your skin all our towels are Oeko-Tex certified. Oeko-Tex is one of the world's best-known labels for textiles tested for harmful substances.
Our first product
We have produced designs that we feel are vibrant but simple, that would be loved universally and make the beaches seem an even brighter place to be. Our towels are sand resistant, lightweight, absorbent & quick drying but are also readily biodegradable, good for the environment and they feel great on the skin. We truly believe we have created a product that is the best on the market at it's given price point.
This towel was designed for the minimalists, the adventurers and the beach bums. It is multi-use and works just as well in the bathroom as on the beach, as a blanket or even as a sarong or a scarf. One towel, many purposes!
The product is hand made by local artisans in Turkey where the tradition of the peshtemal weave has been passed down from generation to generation. This helps to support local business in Turkey and provides us with an excellent quality product that is made with true craftsmanship. It is this weave that gives the towels their quick drying properties, absorbency and allows sand to shake off with ease.
This product is made to last and our towels retain their softness with each wash, unlike your usual clunky cotton towel that hardens overtime and needs replacing. We are an environmentally conscious brand and so we build products designed to last a lifetime. We aim to be the opposite of fast fashion and throwaway culture.
We couldn’t be an eco-friendly company if we spent all our efforts focusing on designing a sustainable product only to package it in single use plastic!
Therefore… We made sure we didn’t!
All our packaging is made from recycled cardboard, a natural material that can be recycled again and again or easily biodegraded in compost.
Doing our little bit extra
We not only decided to use 100% natural & readily biodegradable materials + zero plastic packaging but we also wanted to give some of our profits away to a charity that works hard to tackle the issues we are looking to help solve, such as plastic pollution.
We chose to donate 5% of our profits to the Marine Conservation Society to make not only a neutral impact but a positive one as well.
The Marine Conservation Society has an impressive past and an exciting future. They believe too much is being taken out and too much is being put into our seas. The Marine Conservation Societies scientists, campaigners, volunteers, advocates, data experts, fundraisers, divers and researchers are all passionate about creating a sustainable future for our coastlines, oceans & their wildlife.
How we chose the name
The name Club Kokomo comes from the Beach Boys song Kokomo which takes your mind on a relaxing journey to an imaginary paradise. Club Kokomo is our imaginary beach club, where everyone has fun but at no expense to the beautiful beach & oceans surrounding around them as everyone has full respect for the natural environment. Club Kokomo is an ideal that envisions the best kind of humanity, who enjoys life whilst living in harmony with mother earth.
Plans for the future
Eco towels are only the beginning for us, we want to continue to find products in need of an eco-makeover and to continue doing our thing.
We aim to make these products as affordable as we can whilst using fair labour and sustainable materials. We want to make all our ethical products as affordable as we possibly can without compromising on the ethics of our business.
Me and Sophie are working hard behind the scenes to create new, stylish products that follow our ethos of zero pollutant, natural & readily biodegradable materials.
How you can make a difference!
You can make a bigger difference than you might be led to believe!
How you shop & live your every day life has a big impact i.e. do you buy lots of single use plastic or do you buy reusable zero waste items such as water bottles and coffee cups to avoid doing so?
Little acts like this go a long way and give you a little thing known as consumer power. For example, by buying just 1 reusable water bottle this could save 365 water bottles from being purchased by you each year (if you were to buy 1 bottle every day). Did you know only around half of the 38.5 million plastic bottles used in the UK every day are recycled, with around 16 million ending up in landfill, being burnt, or entering the environment and waterways. Source: https://www.water.org.uk/news-item/national-refill-day/
You could also volunteer at charities and one day events such as a beach clean, as arranged all over the UK by The Marine Conservation Society.
Want to make making a difference your life? Then maybe (if you don't already) you should look into working for a charity or business that reflects your values. Can’t find a job or don’t like the idea of working for someone else? Then there are plenty of gaps in the market for new eco businesses!
What if you already have a microfibre towel?
I did as well, it turns out the towel I had bought myself years before and barely used because of the weird texture was microfibre. I decided against throwing this out as that would be no better for the environment and so instead cut it up into smaller cloth shaped pieces. I now use these little cloths with a water spray bottle to clean work surfaces and my laptop screen but always make sure not to let it anywhere near the washing machine or plug hole!