Recycled fabric

I just received an interesting call from an agent here in Australia for a company selling recycled fabric.  The company produces fabric constructed from reclaimed PET bottles.  Unfortunately the company currently doesn't produce tough fabric suited for the purpose that we here at BOgear require.  The company only seems to be interested in producing lightweight fabrics for apparel, justifiably so as apparel is a huge market on its own.

The 'interesting-ness' that I mentioned comes from the impressive frankness of the agent.  He admitted that it was 20-30% more expensive to purchase a recycled fabric in comparison to a fabric constructed from virgin materials.  He was also a tad misguided in his assertiveness that such environmentally friendly fabrics were only a 'feel good' factor for the company involved.  The basis for his statement comes from his belief that it takes more energy to construct a fabric from old bottles than from a virgin fibre.  When you think about it, it would indeed take more energy for the company involved in creating recycled fabric.  They have to not only collect and clean the bottles, but then chop them up, before melting them into a yarn (a very simplified process overview).  From there they then weave it into a fabric.  Very energy intensive.  Now compare that to fabric constructed from virgin material.  Oil is turned to plastic, and then extruded into a yarn (also a very simplified explanation); from here it is woven into a fabric.

The thing that the agent neglects to notice is that virgin materials don't take into consideration the cost to the earth.  How much would you pay to ensure that the earth remains healthy for your children?  What about your children's children?  20-30% more?  Companies for too long have been taking things that aren't rightfully theirs and turning it into things that they can individually profit from.  Of course virgin fibres are cheaper; thats because a price hasn't been paid for them that takes into consideration the environment (or the community for that matter).  A recycled fabric on the other hand has taken into consideration the environment.  It no longer takes something free (the oil used in the virgin fibres) but rather earns the right to use it by collecting already used bottles, chopping it up, and then melting it into fibres.  It has been environmentally friendly by not impacting the earth through closing the loop (making old products new) as well as not using new products (oil) in the first place.

It isn't just a feel good factor, but rather the ability to do the right thing and no longer profit from things that aren't theirs in the first place.

The agent seemed so jaded that he mentioned that companies have taken to purchasing fabrics constructed from 50% recycled yarns and 50% virgin yarns in trying to keep costs lower.  In this case it seems like it is indeed a case of "feeling good", or what we here at BOgear call "green washing".  Using a 50/50 blend doesn't really solve the issue of using virgin products in the first place.  A company using a 50/50 blend would probably have a green washing statement reading "50% of our bag is made from recycled materials"  versus the more correct statement of "our fabric is 50% recycled".  Which leads you to the question of why are companies like this?  It simply comes down to their want for profits at the expense of all else.  Don't get me wrong; I applaud companies for even using partially recycled material in the first place.  It is a small step in the right direction.  The thing I have so much difficulty stomaching is their green washing statements that are actually misinformation.  That is why we here at BOgear aim to be transparent.  We will let you know what our products are made from, how they were made, where they were made, and so forth.  Be educated, make an informed decision.

Probably the most eye-opening statement from the agent was to hear him talk about companies in China buying virgin PET bottles directly from a factory (before they are even filled with Coke and used by a consumer) to then use in fabrics.  The agent claims this is due to a lack of old PET bottles.  Plausible but still unbelievable!  To those companies, their fabric is technically "recycled" as it was indeed created from non-virgin fibres.  But isn't this a case of cutting off your nose to spite your face?  I will not even bother commenting on this one...

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