The beginning of the year is the perfect time to start afresh. A season of self-improvement, challenges and resolutions. How seriously you take them is up to you, but we could all do something simple for the planet: recycle more!
Recycling feels good. Though a simple act, it’s satisfying to think that the material you’re disposing of will be transformed into something else. It also helps reduce personal impact.
We love using recycled materials in our clothing so we’ve been looking to integrate more of them. Right on cue: you’ll find a variety of different recycled fibres in TWOTHIRDS’ new collection, woven into everything from sherpa jackets to comfy sweatpants. One name in particular stands out. Recover™. A low impact recycled cotton fiber made from textile waste.
In factories all over the world, machines are running. They’re making thousands of miles of new fabric. Much of this is resource intensive cotton and polyester, which shouldn’t be wasted. Yet textiles so often are. 48 million tonnes of clothing is thrown away every year and plenty of waste is created in the production process too. Take cut-offs, the scraps from rolls of fabric that are left over when the parts of each garment is cut out. What happens to these bits and pieces scattered on the factory floor?
Some of them end up in Recover™. The company sources industrial cotton waste and processes it into new fiber in their factory near Alicante. They also blend in material from used clothing - helping to give fashion a second chance. A neighbouring mill, Hilaturas Ferre, then turns this fiber into a yarn. Both companies are innovators, and have been since 1947, when they began to recycle waste into a valuable resource decades ahead of the curve.
To understand how, you’ll need to know more about textile recycling. It can go one of two ways: either waste materials are shredded and regenerated by machines, or they’re dissolved in chemicals, extracted and respun. The mechanical route normally uses less energy and avoids pollution, but can render the material useless for fashion. Not so with Recover™. They have fine-tuned their machines to optimize fiber length, boosting quality while staying chemical-free. But it’s still advisable to compliment the fibers with a so-called “carrier fiber” for extra durability.
Though we sometimes choose organic cotton to be this “carrier”, most of our Recover™ styles are blended with recycled polyester. In a way, this kills two birds with one stone. Conventional cotton and virgin polyester have a reputation as the bad boys of fast fashion. Cotton is a thirsty plant and scorches ecosystems through pesticide use, while polyester loves to burn fossil fuels. The global production of synthetic textiles like polyester needs more oil in a single year than the entirety of Spain… we’ll let that sink in.
No surprises that recycled fiber makes a big difference. From the cotton side alone, using data from the University of Valencia, the company has calculated that 1kg of Recover™ saves up to 14,740 litres of water, and 23kg of CO2! Add to that the waste plastic that goes into recycled polyester as well as the energy and fossil fuel savings and we’re onto a winner.
It’s important to be clear: every garment still has an impact on the environment and recycling is not a silver bullet. But it is one solution from the circular fashion toolbox that can deal with the waste that industry creates, turning it into something worth wearing. Many of us love fashion because it helps us tell the world who we are. Recycled fashion says that we’re ready to reinvent.