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Recycled fleeces

The design story

Patagonia is an American company that describes itself as an 'environmentally conscious maker of quality clothing'. It buys its electricity from renewable electricity plants, occupies buildings made from recycled materials, and gives 10% of its profits (or 1% of sales, whichever is the greater) to grassroots environmental groups. At the start of 2002, this amounted to more than $17 million in cash, plus several millions in products.

This approach flows through into its design philosophy. To Patagonia, the quality of a garment depends not only on how it looks and functions, but also on its impact on the environment and quality of life. In the words of the French philosopher and writer Antoine de St Exupery: 'In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.'

Patagonia was the first outdoor clothing manufacturer to use post-consumer recycled (PCR) fleece, back in 1993. Over the next six years, it diverted about 40 million two-litre plastic bottles from landfills. The bottles are used to make PCR Synchilla fleece, which Patagonia now uses in more than 40 products - jackets, pullovers, vests, hats, socks and even baby clothes.

The impact of recycling plastic bottles

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Practical Action - Technology challenging povertyEuropean Commission - Department for International Development

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