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Feel Like Dressing Up in Plastic Bottles?

Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to walk around garbed in plastic bottles? Of course you haven’t, because that’s just a silly idea – right? Never mind the fact that, depending on just how transparent those bottles are, you might be exposing yourself to a citation for indecency. Well, fortunately, we’re not really suggesting that you wear plastic bottles. Instead, we’re talking about the type of real-world clothes that can be made from recycled plastic bottles!


Here’s how that works:

  • Recycled plastic bottles are processed and crushed into tiny plastic flakes. Those flakes are then made into resin pellets that can be spun into the type of yarn used to make new clothes.

  • That yarn goes through the garment manufacturing process, being cut, sewn, and decorated just as any other clothing item would be.

  • It takes roughly ten bottles to produce enough of this yarn to create on t-shirt. Six times that number can be sufficient for a sweater. And a little more than 110 plastic bottles are all that is needed to create something as large as a sleeping bag.

Of course, you might be wondering just how comfortable these products could actually be. After all, plastic is not usually considered to be an especially soft surface material when it comes to your sense of touch. Because this resin is spun into polyester, however, it has that same soft feel that all polyester products are capable of achieving when they are made with care.


And if you’re trying to figure out why you should care about all of this, the answer is simple: we throw out millions of tons of plastic bottles each year. In fact, the United States currently recycles only about thirty percent of its plastic containers. The remainder ends up in landfills, our oceans and other waterways, or worse. This reclamation method is an opportunity for manufacturers and consumers to work together to help reduce that waste and preserve the planet.


And while some critics have pointed out that current legal regimes prevent these “plastic” garments from being converted back into plastic bottles at the end of their life cycles (health regulations forbid recycled plastic from being used with food or drink items), there are companies already moving to deal with that apparent crack in what would otherwise be a closed loop recycling solution. Their plan is to collect discarded recycled plastic garments and turn them into new shirts – ensuring that their recycled lives don’t end after one short cycle of service.


While this might not seem like the perfect solution to dealing with the world’s supply of used plastic bottles, it is a novel one that is gaining traction with each passing day. At the Earth Company, we applaud the ingenuity and commitment to sustainable living that these types of companies exhibit. We’re also sure that new technological innovations will continue to aid all of us as we continue to look for new and creative ways to make recycling even more beneficial for everyone on the planet.


Adventures in Recycling - How Your Donated Clothing Lives Out its Life

Okay, so you’ve been pretty diligent about taking all of your discarded articles of clothing and carefully bagging them up for donation to a recycler. You should feel really good about that, because you’re helping to lower the millions of pounds of textile waste that typically ends up in landfills each and every year. At the same time, you may be more than a little curious about exactly what happens to all of that clothing once it leaves your sight. Well, if you’ve ever wondered about what kind of an adventure those clothes ultimately end up having as they go through the recycling process, this article should help to clear up those questions.


The first thing that happens to all those clothes is that they are inspected to determine just how usable each article might be. Often times, clothes are discarded by their owners because they no longer fit, or styles have changed. Those clothes found to be in good condition are often resold by charities, either in discount stores or in low-income markets overseas. Yes, there’s a very good chance that your retired t-shirt is clothing an impoverished person somewhere around the world! That fact alone should make you even more aware of just how important it is to keep discarded clothing separate from food and other things that might contaminate the fibers or make the shirt unusable.

But what do they do with items that can no longer be used in their present form? Those items are recycled – or more accurately, down-cycled – by dismantling them and turning them into other textile products. By one estimate, nearly a third of these clothing items end up being made into rags for cleaning. The fibers of another sizeable percentage of those clothes will end up as carpeting, seat stuffing, or even insulation.


And then there is the portion that can be used for making recycled clothing items. The fibers of these clothes are often reused to make clothes using pretty much the same textile processes the original fibers went through. After all, there is still a need for cutting and sewing and all of the other garment-making steps every piece of clothing has to go through before it can end up on your body.


Finally, all of these new products end up back on the market, where they are purchased by consumers just like you. That completes what is, for all practical purposes, a closed loop recycling system. And while that loop is not completely effective in eliminating any waste of materials, the actual amount of waste ends up being extremely small. How small, you ask? 95% of this recycled clothing ends up staying out of the landfill – a remarkable success by any measure!


At the Earth Company, we understand how important all of this to helping all of us maintain the sustainable lives our planet needs if it and we are to be as healthy and secure as we can be. Together, we can all make the kind of difference that truly changes the world for the better.


A Look at the Numbers: Why Recycling Matters

It’s easy to be pessimistic when you look at statistics. After all, many statistical presentations are wielded like weapons, designed to batter debate opponents into helpless submission by the sheer volume of data that is thrown out for consumption. At other times, though, a look at these numbers can help to inform us on important matters, even if only to show us just where we stand in relation to our goals. One example of that would be in the area of recycling, where the statistics reveal not only tremendous progress, but areas where more can definitely be done.


Take recycling as a whole, for example. According to recent numbers, the United States recovers more than a third of all of the waste it generates each year. That, of course, also means that about two-thirds of our garbage ends up in landfills – an amount that totals some 160 million or more tons of trash. That’s the weight equivalent of about 90 million cars marring our landscape. Still, there is no denying that incredible progress has already been made.


Our progress in that area has come through a combination of private sector and public sector efforts. There are more than 9,000 curbside programs for recycling in the country, enabling the collection and recovery of more than 80 million tons of materials that would otherwise dot the landscape of the nation’s landfills.


Recycling enterprises employ more than a million workers in the country. Companies involved in this effort have amassed revenues in excess of hundreds of billions of dollars. Despite the worry in some quarters about the future of these recycling efforts, the economic metrics continue to present a positive outlook for future growth.


And why shouldn’t those projections be positive? While the country has yet to hit the fifty-percent recycling goal that many industry enthusiasts have targeted for some time, it is impossible to ignore the positive benefits that everyone enjoys from the success that has already been achieved. 25 percent of all glass gets recycled, 25% of all electronics are recovered for recycling, and more than 60% of all paper. Two-thirds of all steel containers are recycled as well.


The raw material from these recycled goods is used to manufacture new products that consumers buy, creating a closed loop for the entire process. That means less waste in landfills and waterways, less energy used to transform raw steel, oil, and fabric fibers into useful form, and less pollution released into our environment.


And here’s another number for you to consider: 100%. At the Earth Company, we are 100% committed to continuing this great trend in sustainable living, by producing the highest quality recycled garments available anywhere in the market today. That’s because we’re 100% certain that what we are doing in concert with other dedicated people just like you is something that benefits 100% of the people in the world.


With all of us working toward our goal of sustainable living, there is 0% chance of failure!