Creating the best garment for our apparel is tricky business. There are so many pros and cons to all different types of fabrics, and we try to fully consider the impact of our products from their creation to their end-life.
We recently decided to switch all of our tees to a more sustainable garment. Moving forward, all of our tees are going to be made with 40% RPET, 30% recycled cotton & 30% cotton. We’re going to break down each part of our new fabric to explain why it’s our preferred T-shirt choice (for now).
RPET (recycled PET) is being commonly used in the fashion world lately since it’s a more sustainable alternative to the polyester textile that’s frequently used. PET plastic is derived from fossil fuels (petroleum, etc.) and is the most common plastic created in the world. Although it sounds nasty, there is a silver lining: it’s actually one of the few types of plastic that can easily be recycled - that’s where RPET comes in. RPET is recycled PET plastic, and ours specifically comes from post-consumer water bottles. The process to create RPET is outlined in the graphic below:
Plastic pollution is proving to be a major issue for our planet, with a major cost. Each of our new tees are made from 3-4 water bottles, which means these bottles are NOT going to landfills.
Since the PET plastic has already been created, recycled PET uses a lot less resources to make compared to new textiles. According to a study in 2017 by the Swiss Federal Office for Environment, RPET uses 59% less energy compared to virgin (new) polyester. WRAP, the Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production, also estimates that RPET emits ~30% less CO2 into our atmosphere than the fossil-fuel dependent PET. It is evident that RPET reduces the fashion industry’s dependence on fossil-fuels for brand new garments, which is a huge win for our planet.
You might be saying, “well, it is still ending up as plastic” or “you still depend on those fossil-fuels to make RPET” - and you aren’t wrong. These were all things we thought about when making this decision, and there are definitely downsides to choosing RPET. At this point in our business, we wanted to specifically use recycled fibers, since we believe that creating new fibers from scratch is not always the best option either. We have so much material waste floating around on our planet. We wanted to contribute to using that waste to create something of value again, and something that can add value for many lives for years to come! We aren’t directly contributing to the creation of PET, and we don’t believe you should either. We are trying to make something of value out of the waste that is currently poisoning our planet, instead of having it poison our oceans and landfills.
As far as micro-plastics go...they are a problem. And polyester clothing is a contributor to this problem. Micro-plastics are very small, almost invisible pieces of plastic that have been broken down or broken off of larger pieces of plastic. They never disappear from our planet, and end up in our oceans, in our drinking water & in the stomachs of sea-life. Although we know this is a shocking truth about our new garments, we also know there are ways to prevent polyester fibers from reaching our waterways. There are products out there where you can place your synthetic fibers in a plastic fiber-catching bag that will prevent any microplastics from draining through your laundry pipes. There are even washing machine attachments you can find that will help you filter out these fibers, so you can place them right in your plastic recycling bin. While the plastic pollution still persists on our planet, we will keep towards reducing, reusing, and upcycling the trash of others to help reduce pollution’s impacts on our beautiful planet. Luckily, there are solutions to preventing man-made textiles trash our waterways.
The second main ingredient in our new tees is 30% recycled cotton. Both recycled PET & recycled cotton go through a mechanical recycling process, which means that no chemicals have to be involved in the break-down process. The benefits of recycled cotton are very similar to the benefits of PET: textile waste is diverted and upcycled, the resources needed to create recycled cotton fibers is significantly reduced, and it’s a great start to a more circular economy. We prefer recycled cotton over RPET, since it is a natural fiber and its end life is more gentle on the planet.
The last ingredient is 30% cotton, which is another natural fiber that is most commonly used in textiles today. Although it’s not organic, it is still a naturally-derived fiber. We are always working towards making a better impact, so you can expect to see fully recycled, plant-based garments in the future.
Regardless, this new t-shirt composition significantly reduces the amount of resources used compared to any traditional, non-recycled, and non-natural garment. The portions of this tee that are recycled undoubtedly slash our use of land & water resources, even when compared to any new, 100% organic cotton fibers. For now, it is a great solution for combatting both plastic & textile waste, and promotes a more circular economy. Don’t worry, in the future we plan on introducing fully plant-based, recycled & compostable garments but for now, we’re taking a step in the right direction and appreciate you joining us along the way!
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