The ugly truth is that recycling isn’t a longterm solution. There simply aren’t enough end uses for recycled plastic, and so rather than going to recycling facilities, much of it ends up in landfills and water sources that lead to the oceans. Ideally, we’d stop that cycle before plastics end up there—thus, the Innovation Prize. In the meantime, there’s the Tom Ford ocean plastic watch. Each one removes the equivalent of 35 bottles of plastic waste from the ocean. When he sells 1,000 watches that’s approximately 490 pounds of plastic waste.
And Ford sees this watch as the first of many he makes from ocean plastic. “I suppose it feels like plastic, if you know,” the designer says. “But it doesn’t feel like a compromise. It’s incredibly durable. It’s beautifully made. And it says ocean plastic on it. You see it on your arm and you think wow, you can make great things out of ocean plastic.”
His customers are more aware of sustainability than ever, he says, but there are caveats. “They’re not going to buy it just because it’s more sustainable, and to be honest they’re not going to not buy it because it’s not sustainable. The thing about what I do: It’s not disposable. We’re producing products that are meant to last—products that if you manage to keep your figure you can wear your entire life, or give to someone else, your daughter, your son, or you sell them on 1stDibs for sometimes more than you paid for them. I think that’s the most ethical thing about what I do.”
Profound, change-the-course-of-Earth’s-history change will require the involvement of governments, like the sweeping single-use plastic ban Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced last month. “We’re a captialist culture,” Ford says. “You put up a hurdle like that and you have innovation, and so that is going to be the ultimate thing that pushes us: changing laws.” But until then, Ford is proud of his ocean watch. “As far as I know it’s the first luxury timepiece made from ocean plastic. It’s inventive and I’m really proud of it,” he says. “It’s like a straw, it’s a start.”
The Tom Ford Ocean Plastic watch is $995 on TomFord.com. To enter the Plastic Innovation Prize competition, visit www.plasticprize.org.