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Plastic To Fabric

City Native Brings Eco-Friendly Business Home

The Tenfold Clothing company makes T-shirts from recycled plastic bottles. The company, which started in Portland, Ore. in 2017, has been moved to the Jamestown area because the owner, Mike Johnson, has returned to his native home. Submitted photo

BUSTI — “Saving the Earth one plastic bottle at a time,” is a catchy eco-friendly slogan to put on a T-shirt to encourage recycling.

But what if that T-shirt is also made from recycled plastic bottles.

This scenario could become a reality thanks to a clothing company started by a Jamestown native called Tenfold Clothing. Mike Johnson, Tenfold Clothing owner/CEO, started the wholesale T-shirt company that uses recycled plastic bottles in 2017 while living in Portland Ore.

In June, Johnson moved his family and company back to his native home of the Jamestown area in Busti, and is now looking to expand his business locally.

“I am working to expand to create local jobs and tax revenue for this area,” Johnson said. “Our business specializes in the manufacturing and distribution of T-shirts where each one is made from at least 10 plastic bottles that are then diverted from our oceans and landfills.”

Johnson said he decided to start his eco-friendly clothing business after working for a medium-sized apparel company in Portland. He really liked his job, but was worried about the pollution problem created by producing apparel.

“The big thing is the apparel industry is one of the biggest polluters, second to big oil,” he said. “Everyone has clothes. I have a ton of T-shirts. People need to realize the industry is humongous and a lot of clothes end up in the landfill.”

Johnson said polyester is made of oil, which is basically plastic. So he thought about starting a T-shirt company that makes polyester T-shirts from recycled plastic bottles.

“My thinking was I don’t want to create any new problems for the planet,” he said. “I decided to look into options and I came across people who were using recycled plastic bottles for material being used to make T-shirts. After doing some digging, I found some sources. I came across that you could turn 15 recycled bottles into a T-shirt.”

Johnson created his wholesale clothing company that started to market T-shirts to people organizing marathons or 5K and 10K runs. He said that he is researching to expand into other items to produce using recycled plastic like flip flops and bandannas. He added that the response he hears from people about Tenfold Clothing is progressing.

“A lot of people still don’t understand or realize it’s possible. They look at me like, ‘What are you talking about?”’ he said. “The process is easy to understand. Plastic bottles are collected and grinded into little chips that are melted down into beads and the beads of plastic are made into yarn to make fabric. When people get their hands on it and feel it, they are amazed.”

Johnson said with the restrictions coming from China, who is no longer taking plastic recyclables from the United States, finding ways to use recycled plastic is becoming even more prevalent.

“We have to do something with it,” he said. “There is a huge plastic problem in the world and we need to do something.”

Johnson said at his facility located in Busti, he acquires the T-shirts made out of recycled plastic bottles and does the screen and digital printing on the clothing.

“We’re mainly online. Mostly bulk wholesales. It could be for a team or a company. Anyone looking to buy wholesale T-shirts,” he said. “The T-shirts could be for anybody. A business or running event. Basically any reason why people need a T-shirt.”

Johnson said he has two employees, but is looking to expand his operation locally.

“We will be adding some exciting new jobs to the area including sales, warehouse, graphic design, printing and travel merchandising positions,” he said. “Additionally, we want to be community focused and partner with other like-minded businesses to engage with our area through waterway cleanups, fundraisers and other events.”

Johnson said his business donates some profits to the 1% For The Planet charity that is an alliance of businesses and organizations that protect the natural environment.

“We want to be socially and environmentally progressive. We think that is important,” he said. “We understand the health of our planet is going to help guide our business.”

For more information, visit tenfold.clothing or email sales@tenfold.clothing.

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