Finnish design students Salla Valkonen and Hanna Lehtovaara, both in their mid-20s have filled a trendy and environmentally friendly niche with their bikinis made of fishing nets and other plastic waste recovered from the oceans, national broadcaster Yle reported.
Their initial idea has resulted in a global project named Halla Halla, as the bikinis are made on Bali, Indonesia out of recycled material from Italy.
The company was founded back in 2016 amid dismal warnings from experts that at the current rate of accumulation of scrap plastic, there will be more plastic in the water than fish in a matter of decades. According to Valkonen, the company's main idea is to offer a solution to the looming environmental catastrophe.
Valkonen and Lehtovaara met at the former Kymenlaakso University of Applied Science, now part of the South Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences and devised their business idea during a backpacking and surfing trip to Asia, on which they embarked after graduation.
During their time in Asia, the duo became accustomed to wearing bikinis on a daily basis, but could not quite find anything that fully suited their taste. Then, they took matters into their own hands and started designing and sewing bikinis for personal use. The idea took off when the two were struck by the amount of plastic garbage floating in the sea.
"It's a sad situation, really, really sad. When you're surfing or paddling in the waves, every other stroke you may end up with a noodle package or nappy on your hand," Valkonen recollected.
The bikinis are made of "completely insane" Italian fabric made of recycled maritime debris, such as fishing nets and plastic bottles. Although the recycled-plastic cloth is three to four times more expensive compared with your garden variety nylon, Valkonen conceded, sustainability remains Halla Halla's selling point, fueling the popularity of their products. By the duo's own admission, Halla Halla, which is marketed as "Nordic swimwear inspired by sun, sweat and salt water," remains committed to supporting recycling.