At the age of 26, Hoang Quy Binh aspires to create a community based on the idea of green consumption, starting with recycled socks.
Binh established the brand Re.socks in Ho Chi Minh City seven months ago.
So far, some 27,000 plastic bottles have been given a new life in the form of more than 9,000 pairs of socks, instead of being discharged into the environment.
“Garbage, once sorted, can become an invaluable resource," Binh recalled his motivation.
"I want to show how easy it is to recycle waste by making socks from plastic bottles."
The procedure starts with collecting and cleaning plastic bottles before chopping them up into small pieces and melting them to receive plastic beads.
These beads will be pulled into polyester threads and woven into socks.
Binh’s products have gone beyond Vietnam to reach the UK and Australia markets.
It took him and his partners several months to be certified by New Zealand-based Global Recycled Standard, proving that their recycling process does not exert any adverse impact on the environment and meets the markets’ requirements for textiles.
“Many people think it is unsafe to use recycled products," said Binh.
"Therefore, we acquired the certification to have them rest assured.
"Meeting high, world-recognized standards helps open the door to international markets for our products."
After the success of making socks from recycled plastic bottles, he offers new products developed from coffee ground fiber.
Compared to the first products targeted at white-collar workers and students, these coffee-based socks are much more suitable for active customers due to their antibacterial and breathable characteristics.
Binh said he spent about three months experimenting with a new product before introducing it to the market.
Each of his team members takes on a different role, developing, manufacturing and marketing among all – helping the company to run smoothly despite its small size.
Under the impacts of COVID-19, Re.socks could only host two social events to promote their products in which participants could exchange six plastic bottles for a pair of socks.
Many of them were surprised by the story behind those soft socks.
“Some may argue that recycled socks might not absorb sweat as good as normal ones yet I think the decision of buying these products partly comes from its positive environmental effects,” said Tran Le Huynh Trang, a student of Van Lang University in Ho Chi Minh City.
Dream of green consumption
Graduating from Hanoi’s prestigious University of Science and Technology with a degree in mechanical engineering, Binh switched to social projects.
He has stood behind the initiatives Bright Future Club, D Free Book Library, Healing Garden, D Free Learning, Green Life, Leafy House, and Re.socks since 2014.
After establishing and running a project for six months to three years, Binh transfers it to a new management board and steps aside as a consultant.
All these projects are still active, mostly in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
In the eyes of his partners, Binh has a head full of ideas.
In an event organized by Re.socks, female organizers’ clothes were dresses resembling ao dai called ao tac – an ancient Vietnamese costume.
“Not so many people know about ao tac," said Binh.
"Therefore, besides introducing our products, we also want to bring young people closer to our culture and see the diversity of our traditional attire.”
Re.socks is only part of Binh’s dream about a green consumption community.
He is nurturing other products – clothes and bags – made from cornmeal, pandan leaves, mushroom embryos, and coffee grounds which carry Vietnam’s vibes.