Recycling sails

What happens to a sail when it is thrown away?  Nothing really, it simply acts as a membrane and if allowed to unfold it will sit on top of the rubbish in a landfill and prevent it from biodegrading.  We don’t actually have any scientific proof for this, but we are chatting with the landfill people to see if this theory is realistic.   In any event, landfill without sails is bad enough so anything we can save from landfill the better.

That is where we come in.  We are recycling those unwanted sails and thrown away sailcloth into products.   Some call this process ‘upcycling’ .  Our products are all designed to last a lifetime so hopefully by the time they reach the end of the lives there  will be even greater systems in place to prevent products just being thrown away.

When we started this business we realised we had to try and produce products that were as closed to wholly recycled/upcycled as possible.  To this end, not only are we using unwanted sailcloth, but we are using a number of other natural or old products.  Indeed, Wightsails is just the beginning of a venture that will see us develop many old products and materials into new works of art.

Take our poles for the windbreaks by way of example.   We are experimenting making these from reclaimed wood from the Isle of Wight.    The webbing we use comes from a variety of sources, all kindly donated as off-cuts and scraps.

We wash our sails with water and friendly soap.  We do not use detergents and the water is reused for those plants that like soapy water,  children’s football boots, bike washing and the like.

Your product will be delivered using recycled materials.  All our products are made on the Isle of Wight.

Are we trying to save planet Earth?  Well, we like this quote from Arthur C Clarke – “How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when clearly it is Ocean”.

The Next Chapter

Upcycling sails into new products is all fair and well and we do make lovely products, but we can go further and to truly say we are recycling means we need to… well, recycle!    The idea is to have zero waste from a sail.

Now some sails we receive are beyond help, so what to do with them?   Shred them is the first step!  Not as simple as it sounds.  Clothes and garments are regularly shredded and used for filler, for stuffing upholstery and mattresses or for insulating car interiors so why not sail cloth, it is light enough!   Keep up to date on our facebook page and twitter as we are experimenting, innovating and most of all trying.

Indeed, some textiles are sent to mills to have the fibers extracted.   These fibers are then mixed with new fibers of the same type, spun and are then ready to be used as new.

So what can we do with sails?  As mentioned above, we are currently shredding sails and using as loft insulation and other filling material.  We are also running trials with a company who use masses of packaging material.   You will be able to buy this on the site in due course, but this is just the beginning.  ….

Sails are made from a myriad of fibers and technics, some of which are explained on our sailcloth page and you will begin to see why we should not be dumping these in landfill.  These fibers are increasingly more advanced and more expensive so we have an opportunity to strip these fibers and sell them back to the manufacturer.

And you thought a sail was just a piece of cloth ……