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Most used clothes end up in the trash. That doesn’t mean we should give up on fashion or walk around naked. Instead, a few companies are proving that clothes and shoes can be made for a circular economy.
Organic cotton – The Tee Mill begins with organic cotton. Traditional cotton requires a lot of pesticides and water. The Tee Mill uses cotton grown in Northern India where monsoons provide almost all the water necessary.
The waste becomes food and profit – The cotton seeds are squished and pressed to become vegetable oil and cow feed. Nothing is wasted.
Clean wastewater – The pollution from fabric dyes has been a source of pollution and embarrassment for the fashion industry for decades. TeeMill wastewater, on the other hand, recirculates and recovers about 95% of the fabric dye water according to the company.
“At the end, the water coming out of the filters and going back round to be reused again is crystal clear, literally clean enough to drink. Once it has been cleaned it is then used at the input for the next batch. It is a closed loop system.”TeeMill.com
Renewable energy is used to power their factories. The factory is GOTS and SA8000 certified to prove workers are treated fairly. Even the shipping envelopes use paper and waste materials instead of plastic.
Closing the loop – After you are finished wearing your TeeMill shirts and sweaters, send them back to be remanufactured. The company will use the clothes you send back to make something new for someone else. That’s why it’s considered a circular product. The company closes the loop even after the product has left the factory.
Reformation claims to be the most sustainable clothing company. I don’t know if that’s true, but even if it’s not you have to love their slogan.
Being naked is the #1 most sustainable option. We’re #2″The Reformation
Materials include recycled and organic cotton as well as upcycled textiles from Recovertex. Recoveretex turns textile waste into new yarns that can be used over and over again. Other materials include regenerated nylon and recycled cashmere.
Several materials are made of various types of Tencel by Lenzing. Tencel is made of cellulose from fast-growing Eucalyptus trees. Although Tencel is made of trees, they grow on low-quality land in contrast to cotton which needs higher quality farmland. The manufacturing process is closed-loop and if the fabric eventually ends up in the landfill it will biodegrade according to Lenzing.
To close the loop Reformation asks you to send your used and unwanted Reformations to ThredUP to be re-sold and re-purposed.
ThredUP lets you pick a charity to donate your clothes to, or send them to thredUP for cash or store credit and they will re-sell what they can. Unwearable items go to their textile recycling partners where they are upcycled. The income from their recycling partners helps pay for some of the shipping and labor that comes with accepting clothes that can not be sold according to thredUP.
Timberland Tires to Timberland Boot Soles
In 2007 Timberland launched the original Earthkeepers Boot*, which is made with recycled PET linings and laces and rubber soles. Now, they have partnered with tire manufacturer Omni United to make tires that can be recycled into Timberland shoe soles.
Raw for the Planet is a jeans company co-owned by musician Pharrell Williams. Their goal is to reach circularity within denim design. Although they only reached 30% sustainable materials overall in 2016, their goal is to use 100% sustainable cotton by 2020.
For fashion to thrive in the future, we must join forces and design a circular economy for clothes.”The Ellen MacArthur Foundation