Departing from ongoing efforts to remove plastic from Cayman’s beaches, officials with the Flowers Sea Swim plan to introduce more plastic waste to the beach once swimmers cross the finish line of the well-known, open-water event.
It will be in the form of T-shirts.
This year’s participation jersey is, for the first time, being made of material developed from re-purposed plastic.
Anup Itwar, a former sales and marketing representative for the Flowers Group, is volunteering as the Flowers Sea Swim event coordinator. He said UK-based Scimitar Sports proposed making this year’s shirts from the kinds of bottles often plucked from the sand during beach clean-ups.
“It’s a new line for them,” Itwar said, adding that Scimitar has been supplying the sea swim’s shirts for more than 10 years. “We wanted to be one of the first customers.”
The sea swim has become an internationally known event. Now in its 27th year, it draws up to 1,000 participants who churn up the mile-long stretch of ocean between The Ritz-Carlton hotel and the Royal Palms Beach Club.
Changing to recycled material for the T-shirt each finisher receives will not save the Flowers company any money, Itwar said.
“It does cost about 10% more,” he said, but it fits with the company’s goals. “We’re moving in that direction to be more green. For the swim itself, this is the first step. Our other companies are farther ahead in that.”
The firm’s paving division uses recycled glass in its amalgam and it reuses remnants from its foam products manufacturing, Itwar said.
Flowers is also looking at using the recycled fabric to outfit its workforce of 120 people, but will wait to see the event shirts and gauge how they hold up.
“We’ve seen sample fabrics and they seem fine, like a regular polyester blend,” he said. “We’re going to encourage people to email us or let us know on social media [how well they last].”
This year’s beneficiary of the charity event is the Special Olympics. Itwar said the T-shirt will feature the colours of the organisation on a white background.
The sea swim did not reach its 1,000-swimmer capacity last year, and registration for this year’s event is also lower than usual.
“It’s not exactly where we’d like it to be,” Itwar said, “but it’s moving in the right direction.”
The swim is scheduled for June 15. Information is available at www.flowersseaswim.com.