Blog: Leonie BarriePatagonia wants your underwear

Leonie Barrie | 30 January 2007

Patagonia is noted internationally for its environmental initiatives – it has been using organic cotton since 1996 and recycled soda bottles in many of its polyester fleeces since 1993, and even has executives dedicated to the green cause – so its latest project is no exception. The Ventura, California-based company is expanding its Common Threads Recycling Program to include not only its own-brand used Polartec-branded garments, fleeces and cotton T-shirts, but also those of its competitors. Customers can drop off their worn-out apparel by post or at any of the 20 Patagonia retail stores in the US. 

Patagonia says that since it launched the Common Threads Recycling Program in September 2005, over 1000 pounds of used Capilene base-layers have been recycled into new garments. And it adds that making new polyester fibre from used garments results in an energy saving of 76% and a reduction in CO2 emissions [greenhouse gasses] of 71% versus creating that fibre from new raw material.

The company’s actions mean it’s taking total responsibility for its products, not only making them but handling their disposal too, as well as diverting garments from landfills and incinerators and decreasing the reliance on resources such as petroleum. And in an ultimate twist of irony Patagonia will now be recycling competitors’ garments into its own-brand clothing.

After all the fanfare last week when Marks & Spencer and Tesco announced their “revolutionary” plans to go green, their promises now seem like the tip of the iceberg. I only hope some of their top executives sit up and take note of smaller suppliers such as Patagonia to see just how much more they could be doing to save the planet.

Patagonia to recycle rivals' garments


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