When you google sustainable clothing in Canada, one of the first sites that pops up is Ungalli Co. in Thunder Bay, Ontario. It’s a company that was founded, in 2013, by the Hollinsworth sisters as a sustainable web based clothing line fashioned out of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Inspired by, ‘Name of the Tree,’ a book by Celia Wong, Ungalli’s dedication to sustainable, organic clothing has been raising awareness since it began as an online clothing line in 2014.
Ungalli means, “Everyone helps everyone”. It’s a fitting name for the clothing business since they use oil from recycled plastic water bottles in their textiles; as opposed to synthetic clothing. Over the last five years, Ungalli Co. has implemented 500,000 recycled plastic water bottles into its textiles. The use of recycled plastic water bottles has been rising in the fashion industry over the years. This year’s Fashion Week featured designs made from plastic water bottles in London, New York and Toronto and the use of recycled plastic is gaining steam with both mainstream designers like Tommy Hilfiger and independent companies like Ungalli.
“ 80 PERCENT OF CANADA’S TREATED DRINKING WATER FROM THE GREAT LAKES WAS FILLED WITH MICROFIBRES ”
Ungalli Co. was the first of its kind and received the ‘Top 30 Under 30’ Award for Sustainability Leadership Award. The Hollinsworth sisters carved an economical and environmentally friendly future for themselves. It was through their creative strategy of sustainable clothing development that enabled them to pave an environmentally friendly future for Thunder Bay.
Earlier this year, a study was released indicating that 80 percent of Canada’s treated drinking water from the Great Lakes was filled with microfibres. Microfibres are tiny particles of plastic found in synthetic fibres and are shed when they go through a wash cycle. These microfibres are built up in washing machines and are then flushed into the water piping systems, eventually causing pollution and poisoning fish. In recent years washing machine filters have been made available to curb the buildup of microfibres. However, Ungalli Co. has designed an organic solution to collect the microfibres before they enter the water stream called; The Cora Ball.
This handy little tool comes from a manufacturing company in Vermont. Its design is made to collect microfibres as they build up in one’s laundry machine and turns them into a visible lint or fuzz, to be thrown in the garbage.
While the labour is more expensive and the cost of importing organic, recycled textiles and products is higher, Hailey Hollinsworth says it is worth it. “I hope it makes people more conscious about their clothing, brings awareness that there are sustainable and ethical options out there for the products they purchase. It needs to be a permanent part of our lives to have a big impact.”
In the wake of Canada’s recycling system being in the hot seat, perhaps taking a cue from two innovative entrepreneurs in Thunder Bay, is a good idea. It’s just one google click away.