Thursday, November 4, 2010

EcoFleece: Pants from Soda Bottles

Recently I talked to a local group about the ecology of clothing.  We don't see the process of creating/growing fibers, manufacturing them into textiles, or the factories which make them into garments.  We just see an endless supply of clothing marketed to us at all sides.  Globalization has brought the cost of clothing so low that we have accumulated overflowing closets full of it, much of which ultimately is given away.
So what do we do about microfleece, a nice warm, cozy fabric made mysteriously from polyester?  People are surprised to learn that's just a different word for fossil fuel.  But no fabric is without eco-footprint.  Cotton requires a great deal of water and pesticides and other fabrics have their downsides, too.
One obvious behavior is to purchase fewer clothes and wear them longer.  Purchasing or swapping used clothes, of which there is a huge surplus, is an additional low-cost and fun strategy.  But sometimes you do need something specific, like new black fleece pants to replace the ones I've been wearing for five years.  And fleece, being warm, helps you to keep your thermostat down.  But after that talk I couldn't bring myself to just go order more microfleece/plastic/fossil fuel pants!
A little research uncovered eco-fleece. This is a polartec product made from 85% recycled material, formerly pop bottles.  On sale at Campmor at the moment.  I don't especially like to hawk specific stores or products as a rule, but I i ordered these and they are very nicely made, warm, and they even come in a shorter length. Score for short people!  
Here is the description of the fabric:
Recycled Polartec® Classic 200®
Polartec® Classic 200® mid-weight velour fleece is made of 100% polyester (85% recycled) with a durable water repellent (DWR) finish to provide protection against rain and snow. Polartec® Classic 200® fleece provides warmth without the weight and bulk of traditional insulating fabrics, is highly breathable to provide comfort in all activities, dries quickly to minimize heat loss, and is durable and machine washable.

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