Repreve Recycled Fabrics

We’re big fans of recycling – cutting old jeans into new styles, repurposing household objects, and recycling our polybags into dog poop bags (yeah, we’re committed). And clothing made out of recycled materials tops that list. One of our longtime supply chain partners, REPREVE®, is one of the main reasons we love recycling.

Established in 2008, REPREVE is an American company committed to turning upcycling “trashed” materials into fibers (Quick textile lesson: Fabrics are made out of fibers – some fabrics can be all of the same fibers, like 100% cotton, or a blend of fibers like 50% cotton/25% polyester/25% Tencel®. Different fibers have different performance benefits that cause fabrics to perform in different ways. Lesson over).

REPREVE makes fibers like nylon and polyester out of recycled materials, then we blend those fibers into many different fabrics across many different styles. And using recycled fibers is all part of our commitment to sustainability.

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So how is REPREVE recycled polyester made?

It all starts with some uncomfortable truths about plastic bottles. About 80% of used plastic bottles end up in landfills every year – that’s 35 billion plastic bottles that get thrown away every year.

So REPREVE starts by accumulating lots of recycled PET plastic bottle at its recycling facility in North Carolina. (Another quick lesson: PET stands for polyethylene terephthalate — a form of polyester that’s derived from oil that’s molded into all sorts of consumer products). The used bottles are sorted, washed and shredded into flakes that look like fish food. The clean flakes are blended, melted, and turned into chips that are loaded in big silos. Just like a grain silo, each REPREVE silo holds the equivalent of 27 million plastic bottles.The chips enter the extrusion and texturing process, which transforms the chips into fibers with distinct performance benefits like wicking, thermal reg, odor control, and conditioning.

Okay, so how many bottles has REPREVE recycled?

Since 2008, they’ve recycled more than 20 billion (yes BILLION with a “B”) plastic bottles! Just for context: What does a billion bottles look like? If you place 8-inch plastic bottles end to end, they would circle the Earth five times. So multiply that by 20. WHOA.

When you go to the REPREVE website there’s an updated ticker counting the number of bottles that have been recycled. It’s a constant reminder that recycling your plastic bottles may seem like a small step, but that small act has become a global force. Just by recycling we can reduce plastic pollution and help to preserve natural resources by requiring less petroleum, energy and water to produce.

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Speaking of other resources, what else makes REPREVE sustainable?

This process isn’t just about finding new life for recycled materials – it’s also about reducing the amount of resources used to produce new fibers. Compared to making new fibers (or virgin fibers),  making REPREVE fibers offsets using new petroleum, emitting fewer greenhouse gases, and conserving water and energy throughout the production process (so if you’re wondering, “is recycled polyester safe?”, yep, it is). To give you an idea of the amount of resources using 20 billon recycled plastic bottles saves…

  • Enough energy to power 189,249 homes for 1 year
  • Enough drinking water to sustain 2.3 million people daily for 1 year
  • 517 million kilograms of C02 emissions

That makes a big difference for our future.

This sounds great, but is REPREVE certified recycled?

You betcha! It’s always good to confirm that recycled materials come from reputable sources that don’t rely on child or forced labor to collect recycled materials. REPREVE is certified by the U-Trust Verification system to certify recycled content claims.

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So what’s the difference between recycled fabrics made with REPREVE vs. virgin fabrics?

Well, nothing. Recycled fibers still have the same stretch, recovery, and performance as virgin fabrics – just with a sustainability factor. We guarantee that you, our customer, won’t be able to tell the difference in the hand feel and the care instructions. It’s exactly the same. The recycled nature doesn’t inhibit the fabric or performance in any way.

Great – where can I buy recycled clothing made with REPREVE?

Lots of places! Many major retailers and companies have incorporated recycled REPREVE fibers into their product lines – Toad&Co included! Shop our men’s styles and women’s styles made with recycled fibers – we swear it feels twice as nice.

How to Save Water in Apparel Production

Our long term commitment to sustainability wouldn’t be what it is without our vow to save water. We’ve been reminded to turn off the sink while brushing our teeth from a young age, and we can all agree that protecting this valuable resource is more important now than ever.

We’re on a mission to cut our water usage by 100,000 liters per year by 2025. Here’s what we’re already doing, and will continue to do, to up our H2O-saving game.

Recycled Fibers

When it comes to sustainable fibers, recycled fibers are the gold standard. Virgin materials require a ton of land, energy, chemicals, and—you guessed it—water, to produce. Recycled fibers, on the other hand, rely on materials that have already gone through those resource-intensive production processes once. If you want to get in the eco-weeds, here’s how fabric is made from recycled plastic bottles.

From 2018 to 2019, we have almost doubled our use of recycled fibers. And each year, we’ll continue to raise the bar.

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Organic Cotton

A conventional cotton T-shirt takes 713 gallons of water to grow (enough to sustain one person for almost three years!). But organic agriculture uses water more responsibly. For something to be GOTS certified, it must use a certain amount of “green water” (a more sustainable kind of water, which uses rain water instead of irrigation) versus “blue water” (pumped in from lakes, streams, glaciers, and snow). Overall, organic cotton uses 88% less water than conventional cotton to grow.

100% of our cotton is certified organic or recycled, always and forever.

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Water-Wise Fibers

Fabrics that take less water to produce, such as hemp and TENCEL™, are a big win for Mother Earth. Hemp is more than the latest buzzword—it’s an epic wonder weed that relies primarily on rainwater to grow. And TENCEL™ is a plant-based fiber made from certified sustainable trees (often eucalyptus, which require far less acreage and water to grow than cotton). It’s made in a closed loop process, recycling process water and reusing the solvent at a recovery rate of more than 99%. Lenzing Modal® is another fave eco-friendly fiber of ours. The bulk of it comes from renewable beech trees which grow quickly, don’t rely on artificial irrigation, and propagate on their own.

From 2018 to 2019, we’ve more than doubled our use of hemp fibers, increased our use of TENCEL™ by over 30%, and increased our use of Lenzing Modal® by almost 40%. And our commitment to these low maintenance plants isn’t going anywhere.

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Closed-Loop Production 

In a closed loop system, products are designed and manufactured to circulate within society for as long as possible, with maximum usability, minimum waste generation, and the most efficient use of resources (ie: using our natural resources to their full potential before discarding them, and even then, discarding in a way that won’t harm the environment). In closed-loop factories, wastewater doesn’t leave the plants. Instead, it’s filtered and sent back to its own system to be reused. Fibers like TENCEL™ and Modal are processed in closed-loop systems which recover and reuse solvents.

Let’s do this, sustainability. ‘Til death do us part.

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Sustainability Cheat Sheet

 

During the busiest shopping season of the year, we want you to shop responsibly. Did you know that close to 12.7 million tons of textiles end up in the landfills annually? And that the textile industry is one of highest polluting industries on the planet? Luckily, there are lots of brands devoted to making clothing that minimizes our impact on the planet. If we could, we’d go naked everywhere, all the time. But eventually we’d get cold and crabby and probably make some rash decisions. Everybody wears clothes, everybody shops and that’s okay. Just shop with knowledge and give gifts that are sustainably built and from environmentally conscious brands. So cut this cheat sheet out, commit it to memory, screen shot it, send it to your friends and family, tattoo it to your arm… whatever you have to do. Just remember, what’s good for the planet is good for you, too. Happy Holidays!

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Feeling inspired? Shop our Organic Cotton Styles for Men and Women

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 Non-Mulesed Merino Wool Sweaters 

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