Pharrell Williams Wants You to See the Cool in Sustainability

Pharrell Williams wants you to respect the planet.

Pharrell Williams wants you to respect the planet. The way we can do that, the award-winning musician, designer, icon, and "Get Lucky" collaborator explains, is to make it a tradition to teach our children to how to be good to the Earth just as we'd teach them to be good people. This is the point Williams emphasized today in Berlin, under a massive geodesic dome as he opened up Parley, a unique symposium focusing on the problem of plastic pollution in our oceans. Over the course of two days, while Williams hosts, Parley will feature artists, activists, scientists, and designers discussing ways that they can retrieve ocean waste and recycle it into new products.

For his part, Williams is going after plastic pollution by working on The Vortex Project, a joint effort between his company Bionic, which manufactures yarn and fabric from recycled plastic waste, and Greenpeace co-founder Captain Paul Watson's Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. The Vortex Project will create items like clothes, shoes, accessories, and auto parts out of detritus collected from in and around the ocean. By focusing on the sustainable fashion angle, Pharrell hopes to rebrand 'green'—which tends to be a bit granola.

"I didn't want to dedicate my life into wearing Birkenstocks. I'm not a tree hugger," said Williams. "We want to give sustainability another facet." The problem, as he sees it: "When someone tells you that something's sustainable, you think its going to feel like cardboard—the only way to dispel that is to express the cool." So in partnership with Tyson Toussant and Tim Coombs, Williams "forced" companies like the Gap, Moncler, and Top Shop to use their special Bionic yarn into their lines.

We are producing 280 million tons of plastics a year. Of this, 60 percent turns to waste in less than a year. The life span of a plastic bag is less than 50 minutes. That's why addressing the issue is vital. As Paul Watson summarized, "If the ocean dies, we die. We don't live on this planet with a dead ocean."

To learn how we can help, and to view the symposium live, tune in July 3 at between 7 and 11 a.m. EST, for a full day of speakers, including photographer David Lachapelle; ocean explorer and activist Fabien Cousteau; H&M's creative advisor Margareta van den Bosch; Oscar-winning producer of The Cove, Fisher Stevens; LifeEdited's Graham Stevens, and more. Click here to add this to your "To-Do" list.