(photo by Kevin Herrera)

DOWNTOWN — Some people strive to reduce the number of plastic bottles in landfills by arming themselves with a filter and a Nalgene. Others go clothes shopping.

As unlikely as it sounds, both are worthy strategies.

A new brand called A Lot To Say got its first brick-and-mortar store recently in the Fred Segal building at Fifth Street and Broadway, and although its T-shirts, pet accessories and even yoga mat covers do come with messages written on them, it’s probably the fabric itself that tells the bigger tale.

Each item in the store, which mixes the elegance of the Apple Inc. white and silver look with a 1960s wall paper pattern, is made entirely of plastic, snagged before it ever hit a landfill.

“It’s truly ecological, and very, very revolutionary,” said Alison Stanich Power, who started the business with her sister Jennifer Stanich Banmiller in 2008.

First, the bottles are chopped up into small pieces, and then cleaned. The plastic is then melted into liquid, and shaped into a long, thin fiber which is then spun into yarn.

By using the bottles instead of new petroleum, over 75 percent of the energy is saved without additional harm to the environment, the sisters claim.

A new dye method called AirDye uses no water to put the carefully crafted messages on the shirts.

It’s green, but it’s also relatively affordable. No item in the A Lot To Say store costs more than $100.

Power and Banmiller started A Lot To Say out of a simple desire to create awareness by spreading kind messages, ecological facts and inspirational text.

Each shirt or product has one large, bold word, and then a small explanatory paragraph that gives context to the eye-catching centerpiece.

Neither sister has a background in fashion. For the last 22 years, Power wielded her talents in the advertising and marketing industry in New York, while Banmiller worked at Wingtip Communications, Inc. seeking out clients for class action lawsuits or drug recalls.

Both were looking for more, and landed on clothing, specifically T-shirts, as a vehicle for their message.

“At the end of the day, I felt that I could do more. You can be as truthful as you want in advertising, but how do you help change things?” Power said.

For the first six months of its existence, A Lot To Say printed on organic cotton fabric. The sisters thought that was the height of green, until further research revealed the dirty truth about cotton.

Each shirt took 15 to 25 gallons of water to color using traditional methods, a method which also employed toxic dyes. The fabric itself required so much processing that it negated the value of the “organic” label it came with.

“We said we can’t be greenwashers,” Banmiller said. “We don’t want to be Barney’s green, we want to be green on every level.”

They were introduced to the plastic bottle method by a producer that used it for textiles and other industrial-type fabrics. When they tried it out, the sisters discovered that they could make soft, silky T-shirts that outperformed the cotton product on every level.

“Because of the properties in it, it wicks moisture, breathes well, uses less electricity and takes nothing to dry,” Banmiller said. “It even lasts five to eight times longer than organic cotton, because wash and wear is so much easier on it.”

The past two and a half years have been a long road for the sisters, who went from manufacturing virgins to esteemed divas of the ecological, buy local and karmic communities.

Power and Banmiller own their own processing plant, and all of the fabrics and clothes are made in plants in the United States.

“It’s been a real challenge to keep things here in the USA,” Banmiller said.

A Lot To Say seeks to make yet another statement. The company donates 15 to 25 percent of the cost of each item sold to charities, including Stand Up to Cancer, International Green Energy Council, Animal Rescue Foundation and Haiti Relief.

Up until they opened the store at Fred Segal, the products have only been available online at www.alottosay.com. The duo decided to make the jump and open up in Santa Monica because it fit the company profile.

“Santa Monica is a great market,” Power said. “It does a lot with organizations that we’re already working with.”


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