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Second Time Around: Eco-Conscious Clothing

by Celia Shatzman

The average American throws away 80 pounds of clothing annually, and 85 percent of donations end up in landfills. Here’s how that can change.

Regenerative Style

Lolë straddles the worlds of the great outdoors, activewear and fashion, so it makes sense that it would be designed to look good, feel good and do good. “Consumers are getting more and more conscious about their consumption and what their products are made of,” says Danielle Hinan, marketing director. “Offering regenerated and eco-conscious products, as many brands are now doing, will definitely have a positive impact on our environment and convert retail to a more sustainable and conscious industry.”

Take its swimwear, for example, which is all made from 100 percent regenerated nylon fabric. “By using these regenerated materials, we reduce contamination and ocean pollution and give waste a second life,” Hinan says. “In addition to being made of recycled materials, this fabric is soft, UPF50 and resistant to sunscreens, oils and chlorine. These eco-conscious aspects combined with product quality are the reasons we choose to work with recycled fibers.”

Then there’s its Vegan Down Jacket, which is made to the same standard as natural down, but with a synthetic fiber that mimics the real deal. It’s just as warm and soft—and the feel-good element will also keep you cozy in winter. lolewomen.com

Alternative Denim

A typical pair of jeans uses a whopping 1,500 gallons of water, but both DL1961 and Warp + Weft require less than 10 gallons, plus they recycle and treat 98 percent of the water they use. And, as an alternative to chemical bleach, they use dry ozone technology, which removes harsh chemicals from their mill and product. The family-owned company has been in the denim business for three decades and their eco-friendly mill is one of the world’s largest textile manufacturers, which enables them to create quality denim that’s good for the environment and your body.

“At Warp + Weft we make sure to give back to the planet as well as minimizing our impact on it too,” says Sarah Ahmed, creative director of DL1961, founder & CEO of Warp + Weft. “We’ve donated to nonprofits that focus on providing clean water to those without access to it in developing nations. And across all brands we try to minimize our impact by using state-of-the-art water recycling systems and solar powered generators. But, what’s most unique about our denim is that by using fibers like Tencel, Refibra and other innovative eco-friendly blends we are able to use significantly less water, dyes and energy. So, by the end of the process, we ultimately have less to recycle! It’s actually quite cool to be in a position where we can innovate at every step of the supply chain.”

By being transparent with their manufacturing and sustainability practices, Ahmed hopes that their consumer can become informed about their choices in the marketplace. “The fashion industry is a huge culprit in creating excess waste that not only harms the planet, but those who are producing the garments as well,” she says. “As more consumers shift toward eco-friendly brands, larger brands will need to adapt to the changes in consumer trends.” dl1961.com, warpweftworld.com

Pineapple "Leather"

Pineapples are known for being delicious in your fruit salad or your cocktail. But soon they might be famous as a material as well. Maniwala is a vegan bag and accessories line made exclusively in California from a pineapple leather alternative that’s plant-based, plastic-free material. “We chose to work with Pinatex because we are interested in testing out new vegan materials that improve upon traditional, more environmentally taxing materials,” says Tara Gannon, designer and founder. “Plant-based materials have a far smaller environmental footprint than either animal-based textiles such as leather or virgin petroleum-based fabrics such as polyester. By utilizing plant-based materials we are able to create bags and accessories that are as environmentally harmless as possible.”

The unisex line is designed for innovation and functionality while featuring a clean aesthetic that can withstand the tidal flow of trends. That means they are made to last, which also cuts down on resources. Gannon says, “As the world transitions to more sustainable fashion practices, we’re hopeful that we can be one of the companies showing the potential of environmentally responsible manufacturing.” maniwala.com

Organic Bamboo

You want your clothes to move with you and that’s exactly what Boody does. The line is made from super soft organic Bamboo Viscose, which helps it fit like a glove. “We use sustainable raw materials and seamless production technologies to reduce waste and natural resources,” says CEO David Stern.

“Besides being the softest fabric you are likely to come across, it includes many benefits such as providing a stretch to ensure a great fit; it is sweat-wicking and breathable; it is uniquely odor-resistant and provides comfortable thermo-regulation,” he says.

The safe, sustainable bamboo fabric is organically grown using no pesticides, fertilizers or chemicals. This process is certified by Eco Cert and the plantations Boody uses are FSC Certified. “At Boody Eco Wear it is our mission to implement comprehensive sustainability and social practices that include but are not limited to the production of our garments,” Stern says. “We continue to develop and strive to constantly improve on our environmental and social practices.” That includes production, research and development, supply chain, retail, education, warehousing and freight, and supporting nonprofits.

“Our entire philosophy at Boody Eco Wear is to focus on sustainable everyday essentials with comfort and durability as core features,” Stern says. “We pride ourselves on being anti fast-fashion and therefore we encourage consumers to purchase with the intent of limiting excess.” boodywear.com

Recycled Plastic

It made headlines when a garbage patch twice the size of Texas was found floating in the Pacific Ocean. Swimsuit lines Eco Swim and Eco Peace were determined to ensure that less plastic would end up in the oceans, which is detrimental to marine life and our planet. That’s why their fabrics are made with recycled polyester or nylon yarns, which are combined with chlorine-resistant spandex.

“The younger consumer is both more aware of environmental issues and the solutions that are now more available,” says Ruth Gordon, vice president of fabric development and innovation. “They are also informed shoppers and very connected on social media so if there is a new item available that one of their friends is excited about, they will quickly research it and possibly purchase it as well. My children’s generation and those after them were brought up with recycling as a norm. They have been recycling paper and plastic their whole life so it is natural for them to have an affinity for apparel made with recycled yarn.”

Eco Swim and Eco Peace feature recycled polyester yarn made from recycled bottles and recycled nylon produced from post-industrial waste. In addition to fabrics knit with recycled yarns, all of the fabrics used are Prop 65 and EU REACH compliant. Gordon says, “By spreading awareness about our eco swim brands and other eco brands out there, we hope to show people that there are sustainable and conscious fashion options out there that can really make a difference.” ecoswim.com, ecopeaceswim.com

Upcycled Tees

T-shirts are one of those items that are often worn down to the threads—but what happens to them after that? The average American throws away 80 pounds of clothing annually, and 85 percent of donations end up in landfills. For Days is changing the model. Members join and select one of three plans: $12 per month for three 100 percent organic shirts, $24 per month for six shirts, and $36 per month for 10 shirts. Once they’re worn out, they are exchanged for fresh tees and the old ones can be returned in the same bag. For Days then upcycles all the used ones, turning them into yarn and eventually new shirts.

“The current model of produce, purchase, pollute just doesn’t make sense,” says Kristy Caylor, founder and CEO. “We wanted to create a product that’s good for our members, good for the planet, and good for our ecosystem, and this concept of a closed-loop system allows us to repurpose materials in a meaningful way. Starting out with GOTS-certified cotton and dyes ensures that the product is safe for your skin and safe for the producers, and as we begin to upcycle the returned cotton, we know we have ‘feedstock’ with integrity that will guarantee a better upcycling result.”

For Days members are helping to reduce landfill waste, CO2 emissions, raw materials and up to 500 gallons of water per shirt. Members earn impact points over time and can track their water, energy and landfill waste savings. These impact points can be exchanged for credit. “We see this as a platform for circular consumption,” Caylor says. “I work with the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Consumption and part of our mission is to look at consumption patterns 10 to 15 years out. Something we’re unanimously aligned on is this idea of the access economy being the future and this movement away from ownership. It provides a huge opportunity for us to recapture value from what we discard. We will expand as far as we can innovate on materials, manufacturing and upcycling and welcome partnerships and collaboration as we grow. We really wanted to set the stage with this idea, where we can inspire a new relationship to product, challenge the status quo and lead the industry in creating a better future.” fordays.com

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