Recycling Meets OuterwearPosted by Whole Earth | 10.09.2019
Whole Earth Provision Co. is on the lookout for clothing made with quality materials, that’s comfortable, stylish and durable, and made for life outdoors. When you look at a jacket or shirt in one of our stores, you may not have a sense of how many people, places and resources have contributed to its creation. We’re proud to offer you clothing from makers who are devoted to reducing their impact on the planet by finding new ways to grow and recycle fibers, minimizing the effects of dyes and fiber processing on water resources and people, and using fair trade practices when items are made beyond our shores, all in pursuit of producing a high quality, long-lasting piece of clothing that will serve you well, hopefully for years.
In many ways, Patagonia is the granddaddy of sustainable clothing. They consciously make quality clothes that can last for years and actively encourage customers to repair rather than replace. They point out that keeping clothing in use just nine extra months can reduce the related carbon, water and waste footprints by 20 to 30%. Through their Worn Wear program, they accept Patagonia clothing for repairs and if the item is beyond repair, it’s recycled.
Patagonia began using recycled polyester made from plastic soda bottles back in 1993, proudly becoming the first outdoor clothing company to transform trash into fleece. Now they recycle soda bottles, unusable manufacturing waste and worn out garments into polyester fibers to produce clothing, including Capilene baselayers, board shorts and fleece. And now all Patagonia shells include recycled nylon. They also recycle woolen and cotton fibers. If you’re wondering about the fibers in a Patagonia piece, take look at their fabric contents label.
Another material found in Patagonia outerwear is recycled goose and duck down that’s reclaimed from cushions, bedding and other items that can’t be resold. Both the collector and the processor of the recycled down are family owned businesses and are committed to Patagonia’s high standards. After processing, the recycled down is hypoallergenic and offers the identical performance to virgin down.
Marmot is a maker of high quality technical clothing for mountaineers and outdoor enthusiasts and is also committed to minimizing their environmental impact. They have created the EnviroFree initiative to reduce chemical applications in their manufacturing processes while maintaining and even improving the quality and performance of the raw materials and the finished garment. They are increasing the number of items created with recycled polyester, organic cotton and other environmentally friendly materials using this standard: “If we can achieve the same level or a better level of product performance using sustainable fabrics, we will use them.”
Like Patagonia and The North Face, Marmot is a bluesign system partner which looks at the textile supply chain as a whole and works to reduce its impact on people and the environment. The system includes the use of sustainable raw materials, low-impact chemicals and processes that use minimal water and energy and protect the health of workers and those who will wear the finished clothing. Marmot practices fair trade policies and requires the same of its vendors and partners and monitors their compliance.
All Marmot products that contain recycled polyester have UpCycle tags signifying the transformation of a comparatively low-quality raw material, like plastic bottles, into a high performance piece of clothing. You may also see the Global Organic Textile Standard or GOTS logo on their products. This label signifies that the item was produced using ecologically and socially sustainable methods.
This is the 20th anniversary of Marmot’s PreCip rain jacket, and to celebrate they have created a new, even more environmentally conscious and high performance version of the classic: the PreCip Eco rain jacket. It’s both waterproof and breathable. The PFC-free fabric is made from recycled nylon with a microporous fabric coating that makes it sturdier and more durable than ever.
The North Face is also committed to making products that safeguard the environment and is working to find alternatives to chemicals that give their clothing high performance characteristics like water, stain and oil repellency. They’re working to replace PFCs and other Durable Water Repellency (DWR) chemicals with environmentally preferable options. TNF maintains a restricted substance list that identifies chemicals that are restricted from their products for regulatory, safety and environmental reasons. They also help their suppliers identify environmentally preferable chemicals.
The North Face has focused their efforts on using recycled materials and fibers on high volume products. The ThermoBall line of insulated jackets is an excellent example. Both the body of the jacket and its insulation are made with 100% post-consumer recycled polyester. Designed in association with Primaloft, the recycled polyester fiber insulation mimics down clusters by trapping heat within small air pockets to retain warmth. And unlike down, wet weather does not impair performance.
The Clothes the Loop program works to keep clothing out of the landfill. While it is only available at The North Face retail stores, customers can drop off unwanted clothing and footwear in any condition from any maker for recycling through their partner Soles4Souls.
We hope this brief survey of sustainability efforts by Patagonia, Marmot and The North Face in their outerwear offerings may be helpful when choosing your next jacket.