As passionate lovers of sailing ourselves, there's a lot to be said for enjoying the tranquility of cruising under sail through pristine waters, enjoying the serenity of blue skies and turquoise waters. Having said that, as an industry that thrives and survives on the beauty of our oceans, yachting could really do with being more environmentally aware.
Modern sailing boats used for racing and leisure are sadly far from eco-friendly. The plastics, glue and paints used in the build process, and the chemicals and resins used to maintain sail shape and extend working life are harsh and damaging to our planet. On top of this, sails have a relatively short life. Most racing sails have only a few years in them at best, and after that they generally end up in landfill.
Sailcloth is most commonly made from PET fibre (marketed as Dacron). It is resilient against abrasion, UV light resistant, highly flexible, lightweight and has a low absorbency that ensures it dries quickly. This durability is perfect for sailing, but unfortunately also results in material that is sadly far from biodegradeable.
While the materials used to make sailcloth are chosen for their durability, the actual usage life span of a sail is not as long as you’d imagine. Structurally, sails lose their integrity over time, and particularly in the competitive racing industry, those sails are replaced frequently (sometimes before each race) as they begin to lose their shape and strength after several hours on the water.
It's shocking to think that every synthetic sail produced since the 1950s still exists on our planet. The properties that make sailcloth perfect for resisting the elements at sea also contribute to slow degradation rates. The most common sailcloth materials (Dacron, Kevlar and Mylar) do not break down quickly; estimates suggest that the woven and laminated structures take over 1000 years to degrade in landfill.
Artists and craftspeople have recently realised the potential of sailcloth as a durable, strong and lightweight material that can be repurposed into a variety of different, beautiful and useful products. Recognising this as passionate sailors and environmentalists themselves, our lovely friends at Sailormade decided to do something about all the sail wastage, by upcycling and turning old sails into beautiful tote bags with character and style.
Sailormade was launched by Scott Sparks in 2014 and he was soon joined by his wife Sophie. Scott and Sophie live and work on the beautiful Northern Beaches of Australia where there's great sailing, awesome surf, a long history of traditional seafaring, plus a fantastic beach lifestyle. The ocean is in their DNA, which is why they are so passionate about looking after it.
At Sailormade used sails are upcycled into new and useful products such as tote bags, cushions and other items. Incorporating interesting sail details in all their products, be it part of a sail number, a sail maker’s logo or a sail seam, Sailormade products often have the tell-tale marks that come from a life on the ocean, proving they are a genuine upcycled product, 100% handmade in Australia.
Hand made from rugged dacron (polyester) and kevlar recycled sailcloth, their eye catching totes feature practical touches such as inside and outside pockets, as well as a handy loop inside for hanging sunglasses and keys so they can easily be located.
The straps are soft main-sheet ropes and are the perfect length for slinging over your shoulder. The giant size totes are big enough to throw all your beach stuff, kids stuff or just any kind of fun stuff in and have plenty of room for everything you need.
Due to the recycled nature of the sail materials, imperfections and marks are a feature of these beautiful born again bags.
We love these adorable nautical tote bags, not only because they are stylish and practical, but each is one of a kind. Not only are they useful, stylish and practical, they are literally saving our earth from sail landfill that takes thousands of years to break down. How great is that?!
Take a look at our gorgeous Reclaimed Sail Tote Bags here.
What do you think about recycling sails? How else could we help save the earth from unnecessary landfill? We'd love to hear your thoughts below!