Are Patagonia fleeces sustainable?
Think about the following.
- An important feature of sustainability is 'closing the loop' - that is, using the waste of one product in the making of another. Although Patagonia does not produce fully recyclable garments, it does make clothes from recyclables that will last, rather than going out of fashion and being thrown away because they wear out.
- Along with other companies, Patagonia collects and recycles scrap fleece. The waste material is shredded and used as a stuffing for toys, for sound insulation in cars, and as a filler in pillows. Scraps are also melted into polyester pellets and used as raw material for other products.
- Patagonia has redesigned some of its patterns to keep off-cuts to a minimum. Some clothes for infants can be made entirely from the odd-shaped 'holes' in patterns cut for adult clothes.
- Every 150 fleeces made of plastic bottles saves a barrel of oil (42 gallons) and avoids about half a ton of toxic air emissions.
- Patagonia buys its PCR fleece from Wellman Inc, which has been at the forefront of recycling PET and has won numerous awards for its environmental policies, safety and contributions to the community.
- Clearly it is better to recycle plastic bottles than to dump them in landfill sites. But how far should we question our initial dependence on plastics?