14 Brands That Make Clothes Made From Recycled Materials

Every year, humans generate 2.12 billion tons of garbage. [1] Fortunately, as people become more aware of the environmental consequences of garbage, recycling is increasing. Clothes made from recycled materials is a way to decrease waste in landfills and give materials like discarded plastic bottles a new purpose. 

Clothing such as hoodies and workout gear can be made from recycled materials like plastic bottles and even fishing nets.

What are clothes made from recycled materials?

Companies are creating garments from recycled materials by turning trash such as plastic bottles and discarded fabrics into raw material that can be used to produce new clothing.

What recycled materials can be used for clothing?

Recycled plastic bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the most frequently used to make fabrics like polyester, called rPET. Other recycled materials used for clothing include cashmere, cotton, leather, vegetable and fruit byproduct like pineapple leaves, nylon, rubber, wool, and wood fibers.

Patagonia Clothes Made from Recycled Materials
Patagonia Classic Retro-X® Jacket made from 85% recycled polyester

Can cashmere be recycled?

Cashmere can be recycled by sorting, shredding, and spinning post-consumer yarn from old clothes that have been thrown away. Recycled cashmere is equally as warm as traditional cashmere, yet it has an 80% lower environmental impact. [2] Brands like Patagonia, Stella McCartney and Eileen Fisher use recycled cashmere in their clothing.

Can cotton be recycled?

Cotton may be recycled from old discarded clothing or textile materials. The quality of recycled cotton may not be as good as fresh cotton, thus recycled cotton is usually combined with new cotton. Recycled cotton production is still low compared to new cotton.

Can leather be recycled?

Leather can be recycled from old leather pieces that come from leather tanneries and discarded leather goods. However, many fashion brands avoid recycling leather due to the difficulties of reusing old leather. There are companies which specialize in recycling high-quality leather to make new products.

Can pineapple leaves be recycled to make clothing?

Pineapple fiber can be recycled from discarded pineapple leaves and woven into textile-grade fibers, including Piñatex® used to make vegan leather. Piñatex® is biodegradable, reduces trash, and helps Filipino pineapple producers make additional revenue. The art of pineapple fiber recycling dates back to the 19th century. [3]

Companies like H&M and Levis use recycled pineapple leaves for apparel like outerwear and footwear.

Infantium Victoria Black Pinatex Jacket Front 1500x1500 14 Brands That Make Clothes Made From Recycled Materials
Piñatex® vegan leather bomber jacket

Can nylon be recycled?

Nylon can be recycled into a regenerated fabric called Econyl, created by the Italian company Aquafil. The majority of recycled nylon comes from fabric waste discarded by weaving mills and industrial fishing nets discarded in the oceans. Recycled nylon is used to make a wide variety of products, including clothing, hosiery, lingerie and swimwear.

Can rubber be recycled?

Rubber can be recycled and is usually derived from old tires at landfills. Recycled rubber can be used in a variety of applications, from yoga mats to sneaker soles.

Can spandex be recycled?

Spandex is recycled by collecting waste discarded during manufacturing processes. 4,200 tons of recycled spandex are generated each year and diverted from landfills. [4]

Can wood be recycled to make clothing?

Wood cellulose, usually from eucalyptus trees, can be converted into a cellulose fiber used to make Lyocell, also known as Tencel. Lyocell is a form of rayon and often used to make activewear and swimwear.

Can wool be recycled?

Wool can be recycled from both pre-consumer and post-consumer sources, such as factory scraps and discarded clothing. It is a natural, biodegradable textile with a broad range of applications, including clothing, blankets, and the flame retardant layer in mattresses.

Patagonia, an outdoor apparel brand, states that using recycled wool has decreased their CO2e emissions by 95% when compared to virgin wool. [5]

How is clothing made from recycled plastic?

First, water bottles are collected and processed in recycling facilities in places like Taiwan, which has a sophisticated, well-regulated recycling program. Any part of the bottle that cannot be processed, such as the cap or ring, is removed, and the bottles are sent to a machine that breaks them down.

The plastic bottles are crushed into fine flakes. Those flakes are melted into small pellets about 3mm wide. Those pellets are melted, purified, and spun into a variety of materials, including polyester yarn called rPET. The polyester yarn is used to make a variety of clothing, including t-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, and swimsuits.

What brands use recycled materials in fashion?

1 – Target is one of the largest consumer brands in the world and makes a wide variety of products from recycled polyester, including activewear and swimwear.

2 – Madewell specializes in denim for men and women, and uses recycled cotton, recycled wood pulp, and recycled plastic to make clothing, jackets and jeans.

3 – Girlfriend Collective is an activewear brand that uses recycled polyester and nylon from recycled fishing nets to create non-toxic, Standard 100 certified leggings and yoga pants.

4 – Outerknown is an athletic apparel company founded by World Surf League champion Kelly Slater and designer John Moore. The company uses recycled polyester, Econyl nylon and organic cotton to create hoodies, joggers, sweatshirts and swimwear.

5 – Patagonia is one of the largest outdoor apparel brands and uses a large number of recycled materials, including recycled cashmere, recycled nylon from fishing nets, recycled polyester, and recycled wool in hoodies, sweatshirts, and puffer jackets.

6 – Tentree uses wood-based TENCEL™ Lyocell and recycled polyester to make hoodies, joggers, sweatshirts, and t-shirts.

7 – Groceries Apparel is an activewear brand that uses recycled polyester, coffee grounds and even vegetables to make sweatshirts, leggings and yoga pants.

8 – Richer-Poorer is an activewear and lifestyle brand that makes vegan clothing from recycled polyester, including tops, tees, hoodies, sweats, bottoms, dresses and intimates for men and women.

9 – Coalatree uses recycled polyester and coffee grounds to make vegan activewear hoodies and sweatshirts.

10 – Sweaty Betty creates sustainable workout clothes for women and uses recycled polyester to make dresses, sports bras, leggings, tops, sweatshirts and yoga pants.

11 – Pure Waste uses recycled cotton and recycled polyester to create hoodies.

12 – Recover Brands uses recycled polyester to create hoodies and sweatshirts.

13 – Cotopaxi creates outdoor clothing and gear using recycled polyester to create activewear, outerwear and backpacks.

14 – Summersalt uses recycled polyester to make designer activewear, pajamas and swimwear. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.theworldcounts.com/challenges/planet-earth/state-of-the-planet/world-waste-facts/story
  2. https://cfda.com/resources/materials/detail/cashmere
  3. https://www.textiletoday.com.bd/clothing-made-pineapple-fiber/ 
  4. https://www.spanflex.com.tw/english/fabrics/detail.php?dpid=17 
  5. https://www.patagonia.com/our-footprint/recycled-wool.html

Kristina M.

Kristina M.

Providing shopping recommendations for organic, sustainable, and eco-friendly products.

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