As a Michigan native, I have always had a deep passion for the Great Lakes. I spent much of my childhood exploring the sandy shores of Lake Michigan and observing the surrounding wildlife. However, as I grew older, I began to realize just how badly Great Lakes ecosystem was under threat (thanks to an internship at the GVSU Annis Water Research Center, which focuses on research in the Lake Michigan watershed.) The potential for invasive species to enter the lakes, aging pipelines that posed a risk of oil spills, and budget cuts to Great Lakes funding were just a few of the issues that inspired me to take action.
In July 2017, as a senior in high school, I founded Oshki, a brand committed to making a positive impact on the environment. The name "Oshki" comes from the Ojibwe language, meaning "fresh." From the very beginning, I pledged to donate 5% of all sales to non-profit organizations dedicated to preserving the Great Lakes.
However, as our brand grew, I began to feel like we could do more. I wanted to find a way to innovate and make a real difference in reducing plastic waste. Research shows that 22 million pounds of plastic enter the Great Lakes each year, and that number is only set to increase. As a country, we aren't doing enough to reduce plastic waste and protect our waterways. China's 2018 decision to stop purchasing most of the United States' plastic waste meant that it was piling up domestically and often ending up in landfills instead of being recycled.
With this in mind, I set out to redesign Oshki's supply chain during my first six months at the University of Michigan. I joined the optiMize student organization, which funded my vision for Oshki. Today, we use 100% United States' plastic waste to create all of our garments, making us the first apparel brand to do so. By doing this, we are helping to reduce plastic waste and make a positive impact on the environment.
At Oshki, we're not just selling clothing. We're selling a commitment to the environment and the Great Lakes. We're looking for customers who share our passion and want to help create a better tomorrow. Thank you for your support.
Jackson Riegler, Founder - Oshki