Green Business Bureau Blog
Even the Clothing Industry is Going Green with Clothes made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
Today people are starting to shop in a new frame of mind. No longer is our economy about buying more and having more, it is about being more and enjoying more. What this means is that people are being more careful with their money, striving to purchase things that will make their lives better, while also suiting their bank account and being as friendly to the environment as possible. Thus, a major shopping initiative has been born as people try to spend their green on green things.
Photo from new-business.net
Certainly this trend has hit cleaning products as people seek products to clean their homes and offices which are environmentally friendly and safe for humans. The green trend has hit building and renovations as people look for renewable, sustainable and recyclable materials to build homes and other living spaces. And the green trend has even hit business and manufacturing, as companies employ sustainable business practices, focusing on production resources, energy conservation, and shipping impacts. But a relatively new area that has started to focus on being eco-friendly, a shopping niche that may surprise people, is eco-friendly clothing.
We are not just talking organic cotton which has been around for decades. What we mean here is recycled clothing that works to reuse post-consumer resources, that is, things that people have used once and then thrown into the trash bin. Specifically, designers are starting to make clothing for all occasions using material made from recycled plastic bottles. That’s right, the next time you are drinking a soda, look at that bottle and consider how well it might fit you in the future!
How is Clothing Made from Recycled Bottles? Recycled bottles can be recycled for a variety of uses. One of the uses for this post consumer resin (PCR) is to spin it into thin fibers that are then used to make a form of polyester. This polyester becomes the fabric to create any type of clothing including exercise outfits, casual shirts and jackets. One of these polyesters goes by the brand name Eco-Spun. This company creates a type of polyester fleece that is warm, comfortable, durable and weather resistant. Eco-Spun is working to keep 3 billion soda-pop bottles out of landfills and reduce emissions and acid rain caused by petroleum use.
Using recycled bottles for making clothing reduces our dependence on foreign oil (often used to create traditional polyester), reduces waste that ends up in landfills, reduces toxins that are released into the air when plastic bottles are sometimes burned in incinerators, creates a fabric that itself is now recyclable, and releases less pollution into the environment. One of the first companies to start making clothing out of recycled plastic bottles was Pantagonia. During their first 13 years manufacturing recycled clothing, Pantagonia rescued 86 million plastic bottles from landfills around the country.
What Type of Clothing is Made from Recycled Bottles? The thread spun from recycled bottles can be used to create a variety of fabrics which can then be used to make almost any type of clothing. Exercise shorts and shirts, commonly made from polyester blends, are great candidates for PCR fabrics. These bottles can also be made into very soft fleece which is great for jacket linings, hats and blankets.
Pantagonia was the first company to use recycled bottles to create outdoor wear. Today, they have a full line of clothing for men, women and children that uses primarily PCR fabrics. Of course, this plastic spun thread can also be combined with other materials to create even more variety of clothing suitable for almost any use. Another great feature of these fabrics is that once the clothing becomes worn or unwearable, it can be melted down and turned into thread all over again to live life anew!
Entering the New World of Fashion Recycling plastic bottles for clothing is a great way to meet a basic human need while also removing waste from our environment. It takes approximately 5 plastic bottles to make a single medium sized shirt. That means that a single school shopping trip to purchase 10 new shirts for school could keep 50 or more bottles out of landfills! This clothing is so comfortable and versatile that both the U.S. and Brazil soccer teams wore uniforms made of recycled soda bottles in the last World Cup!
Photo from zedomax.net