From Sailing the Seas, to Saving Them

You never know when or where inspiration is going to strike. You could be mowing your lawn, watching the Huskies (hopefully winning), or driving home from a day at the office. For Lindsay Lawrence, founder of Metamorphic Gear, it was 1995, thousands of miles away in southern Brazil, where he was working with local churches to put on after-school enrichment programs for kids with no safe place to call their own. One of the ways they raised support to put on the programs was through crafting. The kids and community members would make the items, then sell them at local markets. Lindsay saw first-hand how much was reused in their society, like the grain sacks the kids used for school bags, and the experience left him with a number of convicting questions—how much do we as a society, even one as “green” as Seattle, throw away? And how much of that could be re-purposed, re-crafted even, into something entirely different?

The answer was Metamorphic Gear; locally-made, urban-styled bags made of 75% “upcycled” materials. An avid sailor, Lindsay knew the strength and durability of sail material, and how much of it was headed to the landfill after its life in the industry was over. The result, Lindsay would say, is that “a material which once moved boats over the oceans now helps you look good and feel good as you move through your day.” By upcycling already made sail material, they are not only keeping that material out of the landfill, but they are sourcing local products from right here in the Seattle area, minimizing their environmental impact and creating local jobs. It’s a triple-threat idea, and one that has taken off since the first product launched almost one year ago.

What struck me personally, however, was not only their commitment to environmentally sustainable production, but the value and emphasis placed on giving back. Fitting for their market, Metamorphic Gear donates 5% of the retail price of their bags to cleaning up the oceans. In particular, Lindsay describes, the beautiful yet highly polluted Midway Islands. In partnership with Chris Jordan, a local Seattle photographer and artist who has been documenting the Midway Islands’ condition, Lindsay hopes Metamorphic Gear will turn the spot-light on the worsening plight of the indigenous wildlife. “It’s one of the most remote places on the planet,” Lindsay describes, “yet it’s also one of the most heavily impacted by plastic pollution.”

I myself started sailing when I was 13 years old, and I have had a passion for the water ever since. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never sailed the oceans, let alone traveled to the Midway Islands. Yet how amazing is it to think that the fabric that pulls me across the water, transformed into something new and purposeful, can help keep that very same water clean and healthy? It’s a beautiful example of creativity changing the world, and an inspiration to the artist in everyone.

So what’s next for Metamorphic Gear? While Lindsay specifically asked that I keep the details under wraps, he hinted at a second product launch within the next two months. In an effort to keep my word, I’ll keep the specifics to myself, but I’ll tell you this: I’ve seen the prototype, and it’s awesome!

Thanks to Lindsay for being willing and transparent, and keep up the inspirational work. If you’re interested in finding out more about Metamorphic Gear, I recommend checking them out online.


Metamorphic Gear Slate bag

Less waste in the ground, more style on the street… pretty savvy if I do say so myself. Plus a place for my handy-dandy pencil? Even better!

Metamorphic Gear Slate bag

Metamorphic Gear’s Slate bag is made up of 75% upcycled material, including sailcloth and truck tarpaulin.

Metamorphic Gear Slate bag

…and it’s named after the fine-grained metamorphic rock formed over centuries, composed of clay or volcanic ash… as if it wasn’t cool enough already!

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1 comment

  1. Wendy October 16, 2012 at 2:49 pm Reply

    What a great article-so creative-and what a great endeavor. Love the products.

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