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Muskegon student turns trash into T-shirts to help Great Lakes

By Laura Hartman/WZZM-TV • Jul 20, 2019 at 6:00 PM

MUSKEGON — Each year, 22 million pounds of plastic waste enter the Great Lakes. While reducing plastic use is critical, Muskegon native Jackson Reigler has decided to reuse it.

Jackson created a company called Oshki while he was in high school at Muskegon Catholic Central. Meaning “fresh” in Ojibwa, Reigler aims to freshen up the Great Lakes by turning plastic waste into clothing.

"I pledged from Day 1 (that) 5 percent of everything I make to nonprofits working to preserve the Great Lakes," he said.

Oshki pays homage to the Native American Ojibwa tribe, honoring their sustainable lifestyle.

This summer, Reigler hosted a beach clean-up. He takes the plastic waste and ships it to his partner company in North Carolina, where the plastic is ground into pellets and spun into polyester yarn.

Other parts of the world have produced recycled polyester for years, but the practice is picking up steam in the United States.

"We're actually the first apparel company that uses only United States plastic waste in all clothing," said Reigler.

Reigler is currently a student at the University of Michigan. He was granted $10,000 from the university this summer to help Oshki grow. New products will be coming soon.

"I'm looking to launch women's leggings in late August," said Reigler. Long sleeve polyester shirts and board shorts are also coming soon.

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