The sustainable wardrobe: its more accessible than you think

January 29, 2019 by  
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When it comes to making sure our homes are eco-friendly, it is easy to neglect the closet. Your clothes, however, might just be the biggest culprit. All those synthetic fabrics will take over 200 years to fully decompose, and the microfibers often end up in the ocean and in the bellies of sea creatures. The fashion industry produces 20 percent of all wastewater, and the amount of pollutants it emits is the second largest in the world (the first is oil). This is all while generating 10 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined total from all international flights and maritime shipping. So what can you do to build a more sustainable wardrobe? First and foremost, educate yourself. Before you do anything, learn why you’re doing it. Start out by doing some research to figure out what your biggest priority is. Vegan and cruelty-free? Non-toxic materials? Organic materials? Do you care more about what the clothes are made out of, or who made the clothes? Arming yourself with information makes it easier to make better decisions for yourself and the environment. Support ethical businesses The rise of fast fashion has brought about high demand for cheap, trendy clothing items. The cost of manufacturing these inexpensive clothes has led many factories to turn toward cheap labor and sweatshops in developing countries — often with dangerous work conditions on unlivable wages. When you do purchase clothes, read the label and see where it was made. If you’re not sure about the country, opt for the U.S. and the U.K. where the labor laws are more strict and regulated. Invest in higher quality, eco-friendly fabrics Growing materials for certain fabrics take a heavier toll on the planet, so buying clothes made from natural materials like organic cotton, linen or hemp can help offset the environmental impacts. Not only do certain fabric materials take huge amounts of water to grow, but the chemicals used to rid these crops of pests also seep down into the soil and natural water supply. The upside is that not all crops are grown this way. Organic cotton is grown without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Hemp is versatile, strong and requires much fewer pesticides or fertilizers to grow. Linen, made from flax, demands less water and energy sources, and it is naturally biodegradable. Related: Faux fur or real fur, which one is better for the planet? Don’t throw clothes away This seems simple enough, but it’s surprising just how many pieces of clothing end up in the trash every year. In 2015, there were 10.5 million tons of textiles in landfills, and many of those were synthetic fibers that don’t decompose. When a favorite piece of clothing gets torn, mend it up rather than tossing it in the trash — you’ll save more money, too! Not a master sewer? Take it to a tailor. If you really want to get rid of something, take it to a donation center or thrift store. Or, try a clothing swap with a friend — you’ll both get new pieces for your wardrobes without anything ending up in the trash can. Related: Eco-friendly options for decluttering waste Shop vintage and thrift When it comes to fashion, choose timeless over trendy. Buy clothes that will work year-round rather than just for a season. Think multi-purposefully. Most importantly, don’t think that being on a budget means limiting yourself to cheap clothes or fast fashion trends. Shop mindfully Stop to ask yourself: do I need this, or do I just want it? There’s a big difference there. If you really need something new for a wedding or special event, buy with purpose. Don’t just go into a store to shop for nothing in particular, or you’ll most definitely end up with something you don’t need. Also, if you buy items that are more versatile, it will actually help you in the long run. You’ll have more outfit choices and less clutter to worry about in your closet. Take good care of the clothes you have Using a lower temperature in your washing is not only less damaging to fabrics, but it’s a win for the environment, too. Heating accounts for 90 percent of the energy used from doing a load of laundry. If you can swing it, skip the dryer altogether and hang-dry your clothes (of course, this works better in a dry, warm climate). You can also try washing your clothes in larger batches, because this will waste less water and electricity. Consider switching to an eco-friendly brand of detergent as well. Keep an eye out for ones that are biodegradable , phosphate-free and made from plant-derived ingredients. The better shape your clothes are in, the longer they will last. Related: How to decode confusing labels on common household cleaners DIY Here’s the good news: there are more ways to express your personal style than buying clothes. Learn to make your own accessories or bags; it might turn into a fun new hobby or a skill you never knew you had! Rather than throwing old clothes away, repurpose them into something new. Old T-shirts make great dusting rags, and soft materials like cotton can be made into pillowcases or quilts. Check out these great ideas for recycling old clothes from DIY for Life. Images via Charles Etoroma , MNZ , Prudence Earl , Raw Pixel , Peggy and Marco Lachmann-Anke , Egle and Shutterstock

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The sustainable wardrobe: its more accessible than you think

Crayola Colorcycle initiative offers free recycling for markers used in K-12 classrooms

January 29, 2019 by  
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In the blur of school activity, students read, write, calculate and doodle. With that vision in mind, no company has created a bigger connection with the educational world than Crayola, monarch of colored pencils, crayons and markers. With that title comes a wave of concern regarding toxins and waste . After all, Crayola manufactures 465 million plastic markers alone each year, which begs the question of corporate responsibility. Fortunately, Crayola’s ahead of the curve on this one with the introduction of a voluntary marker recycling initiative for K-12 classrooms. ColorCycle, the cleverly-named program, came into being a few years ago when Crayola decided to take steps to divert billions of markers “marked” for the landfill . Since the ideology of the company focuses squarely on education, they feel it makes sense to take part in educating students about social and environmental responsibility. “The ColorCycle program has repurposed more than 70 tons of expended markers in the United States and Canada since 2013, and uses the most advanced plastic conversion technologies available today to make wax compounds for asphalt and roofing shingles as well as to generate electricity that can be used to heat homes, cook food, and power vehicles.” In conjunction with teachers, the front line in education, Crayola is backing the environmental movement with the ColorCycle plan that also includes educational-support tools. These lesson plans list supplies and activities that facilitate classroom learning about topics such as coral reefs, inventions, and how pollution travels across the planet. Related: 13 eco-friendly back-to-school supplies for a sustainable school year To participate in ColorCycle, school administrators or PTO members are informed about the program and an ambassador is chosen at the school. Collection boxes are then placed in classrooms or central locations around the school. When it’s time to ship the markers back, they are counted and packed into a plain cardboard box. A quick visit to the Crayola website will provide a shipping label and then FedEx ships the box on Crayola’s dime. To encourage involvement, Crayola also provides a letter that ambassadors can send out to parents and the community, informing them about the program along with signs that can be printed and posted around the school. There are no costs to the school or teachers so the time to set up, monitor, count and package the markers seems like a worthy investment both towards teaching children about eco-friendly practices and in promoting behaviors that help the environment. The Crayola ColorCycle program is currently available to K-12 classrooms across the United States and parts of Canada. Although not currently available outside the public schools, the company encourages daycares and other community members to take advantage of the drop boxes. Crayola will accept all brands of plastic markers, including dry erase markers and highlighters. See the Crayola website for more information about the program and how to sign up. + Crayola Image via ParentRap

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Crayola Colorcycle initiative offers free recycling for markers used in K-12 classrooms

These stylish, work-appropriate loafers are made with recycled tires

December 18, 2018 by  
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When you think of tires, images of a car maneuvering through standing water or gripping gravel might come to mind. And for good reason — that’s what tires are for. From an environmental vantage point, though, rubber tires are a hazard. Because many of them are mixed with steel reinforcement, they are not recyclable by traditional means. Sending them to the landfill is expensive, therefore many of them end up dumped on the side of the road. They can, however, be repurposed, and that is just what one innovative company has done with its stylish new loafers. Hugs & Co., a London-based company, has recently unveiled a loafer that uses waste tire rubber for the shoe’s sole. As a luxury offering, the Tyre Sole Driving Loafers promote the material as a step up from other loafers, even the shoe’s own previous versions, with a traction and durability that is trademark of tire materials. Founder Hugo Davis said, “All too often the decision to select environmentally conscious components leads to a compromise in quality, here it actually enhances the product.” Related: Outdoor giant Merrell presents its most sustainable shoe to date The company states that the production of the material requires a fraction of the energy usage traditionally required in the manufacturing of shoe soles. Continuing with the sustainability zeitgeist, Hugs & Co. aims to make a product that is versatile and long-lasting. It believes that making products last longer is good for the planet. Although labeled a driving loafer, the Tyre Sole, or TS1 is a comfortable and adaptable option for casual day at the office, an afternoon at the beach or a night out with friends. Reminiscent of a moccasin, the Tyre Sole Driving Loafers come in a few styles and colors in men’s sizes. The materials for the TS1 are all sourced within Europe, including hand-selected Italian suede along with a natural leather interior. The first run of this loafer sourced end-of-life reclaimed tires from Michelin in Spain. Each loafer is hand-stitched for a personal and thorough approach to quality. The upcycled tire material makes for a long-lasting sole. Related: nat-2 creates a completely vegan sneaker made from coffee Hugs & Co. was established in 2012 by brothers Benjie and Hugo Davis, and the company produces a full line of shoes for men and women as well as cell phone accessories. + Hugs & Co. Images via Hugs & Co.

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These stylish, work-appropriate loafers are made with recycled tires

REPREVE: sustainable multi-use fiber made from recycled water bottles

November 29, 2018 by  
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Single-use water bottles have become a target for environmentalists concerned about the amount of petroleum required for each bottle and the massive amounts of waste generated from their short lives. But in recent years, companies have begun to use tossed-aside plastic in new and exciting ways. REPREVE, a sustainable fiber created from 100 percent food-quality and BPA-free post-consumer plastic, has opened up the door to give companies new options when sourcing eco-friendly materials. While using  recycled fibers is not new in the manufacturing world, Unifi, a leading global textile solutions company and the producer of REPREVE, has refined a process that allows it to create multiple fibers from the same material including nylon, thread, polyester and other fibers. Related: Clothing made from recycled water bottles highlights the ongoing crisis in Flint Unifi completes the water bottle-to-fabric process in a few stages. Beginning with the water bottles returned by consumers, Unifi transfers them to a modern bottle processing center where they keep a quarter of a million water bottles out of the waste stream each hour. Once broken down into a fine material called flake, the flake is then sent to the REPREVE recycling center where it is blended, melted and turned into small chips that are stored onsite in large silos. Each silo holds the equivalent of 27 million water bottles. The manufacturing plant itself is dedicated to zero-waste production as well. Related: Ford to recycle 2 million plastic bottles into fabric for its Focus Electric Dozens of companies are on board with the idea of incorporating the REPREVE fibers into their products. Backpacks, socks, dog beds, cloth car seat covers, activewear, dress pants, jeans, swimwear, flags and heat wraps are just a few products donning the REPREVE symbol. Notable companies supporting the sustainable practices of REPREVE include PrAna, Patagonia, Roxy, Quicksilver, Lane Bryant, Fossil and Ford Motor Co. In fact, Unifi lists over 60 companies using its products on its website. This is no surprise, considering the versatility of the materials created through the process. “Unifi’s advanced performance technologies provide textile solutions like moisture wicking, stretch, water-repellency and enhanced softness. Our technologies can be combined with REPREVE to offer increased performance, comfort and style advantages, enabling customers to develop products that are good for the planet, plus truly perform, look and feel better,” said Kevin Hall, chairman and CEO of Unifi. “REPREVE® is an innovative brand of fibers, chip and flake that is made from 100 percent recycled materials, including plastic bottles,” Hall added. “REPREVE’s U Trust® Verification program is a comprehensive certification designed to provide customers with a higher level of transparency. Unifi’s proprietary FiberPrint® technology is used to analyze the fabric content and composition to determine if REPREVE is present and in the right amounts. REPREVE is also third party certified.” The company takes pride in a robust, full-cycle dedication to sustainability through obtaining the proper certifications. + Repreve Images via Unifi

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REPREVE: sustainable multi-use fiber made from recycled water bottles

Recycling Mystery: Clothing

August 8, 2018 by  
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We have a clothing problem in the United States and … The post Recycling Mystery: Clothing appeared first on Earth911.com.

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The Agraloop turns food waste into sustainable clothing fibers

June 18, 2018 by  
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Don’t throw it out — throw it on. The Agraloop Bio-Refinery , a new technology developed by materials science company Circular Systems S.P.C. , is capable of turning food waste such as banana peels, pineapple leaves and hemp stalks into natural fiber that can be woven into clothing . “We want to enable food crops to become our primary fibers,” Circular Systems CEO and co-founder Isaac Nichelson told Fast Company . The waste materials mentioned, plus sugar cane and flax stalk, could generate up to 250 million tons of fiber each year if processed through the Agraloop, meeting the global demand for fiber two and a half times over. Farmers are encouraged to acquire their own Agraloop systems, so that they may earn extra income from creating natural, sustainable fiber from materials they would otherwise compost . While the Agraloop is a novel technology, its values are aligned with the clothing industry’s past. In 1960, 97 percent of the fibers used to produce clothing came from natural sources. Today, only 35 percent is naturally sourced. The return to natural form for the fashion industry is desperately needed in a moment where many acknowledge the need for reform within the industry, from its labor practices to its environmental impact. Related: Biotech company Nanollose could offer plant-free alternatives for the textile industry “Right now, it’s so extractive and so destructive, and we’re looking at these resources becoming more and more finite as the population grows,” Nichelson said. “If there’s not collective and very swift action, it’s going to be catastrophic for the industry from an economic standpoint.” Enter the Agraloop. “[It’s a] regenerative system that uses plant-based chemistry and plant-based energy to upgrade the fibres whilst enriching the local communities and creating a new economic system,” Nichelson explained. Ultimately, a move towards sustainability will be beneficial for both the environment and those seeking to make a profit. Nichelson said, “All of our industries need to be retrofitted for real sustainability and become regenerative by nature, and it will be better for business.” + Circular Systems Via EcoWatch and Fast Company Image via  Depositphotos

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The Agraloop turns food waste into sustainable clothing fibers

Adidas unveils a Manchester United jersey created with ocean plastic

May 21, 2018 by  
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Ocean plastic just got a flashy new awareness effort—in Manchester United Football Club jerseys. Adidas  has teamed up with Parley for the Oceans to release a kit utilizing recycled ocean plastic and inspired by the team’s 1968 European Cup Final win. Manchester United director Richard Arnold said in a statement, “We are all acutely aware of the threat of plastic to the environment and we are delighted to be able to raise further awareness with this recycled kit, which I am sure the fans will love.” Manchester United’s third kit features a navy blue shirt adorned with gold detailing from Parley for the Oceans and Adidas . It’s a throwback to the team’s 1968 royal blue kit in order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its European Cup victory. But the blue also calls to mind the world’s oceans , which are plagued by plastic pollution . Adidas Category Product Director Oliver Nicklisch said, “We all need to change the way we think and act towards our oceans…By working with Manchester United to create new, stunning jerseys made with Parley Ocean Plastic, we hope that we can highlight the issue of plastic damaging our oceans, and ultimately encourage and inspire football fans to join us in creating a better environment for everyone.” Players will don the kit for the first time on the field during Manchester United’s summer tour in the United States. Related: These Adidas sneakers double as subway passes in Berlin This isn’t the first time Adidas and Parley for the Oceans have collaborated; they’ve also created running shoes and clothes with plastic plucked out of the oceans. The apparel is available for purchase on Adidas’ website. The plastic upcycled in their clothing is sourced from beaches, coastal communities, and shorelines. + Parley for the Oceans + Adidas + Adidas x Parley + Manchester United Football Club Images courtesy of Adidas and Parley for the Oceans

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Adidas unveils a Manchester United jersey created with ocean plastic

France could ban stores from tossing out unsold clothing

May 11, 2018 by  
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Earlier this year a viral Facebook photo of a clothing store in France destroying apparel sparked outrage — and Paris-based group Emmaus got involved. The organization working to end homelessness started tackling the clothing dilemma, and a recent Circular Economy Roadmap from the government proposes a solution: banning stores from chucking unsold clothes . (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v3.0’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Exposition de la poubelle de Celio, rue du Gros Horloge à Rouen. (Artiste inconnu).Celio jette ses vêtements … Posted by Nathalie Beauval on  Saturday, February 3, 2018 France’s Circular Economy Roadmap calls for applying the main principles of the food waste battle to the clothing industry by 2019; a 2016 law requires grocery stores to donate food instead of throwing it away. The government said in the roadmap they aim to ensure unsold textiles “are neither discarded nor eliminated.” So France could prohibit stores from trashing clothing that isn’t sold. Clothing stores might have to donate unsold wares instead. Related: This Swedish power plant is burning H&M clothes instead of fossil fuels Emmaus deputy director general Valérie Fayard told local research company Novethic while the details aren’t clear yet, as this is a roadmap presentation, it’s still good news. She said, “The deadline of 2019 will allow the government to launch an inventory of the situation, calculate the number of tonnages discarded, the processes put in place by brands, and difficulties.” Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said by 2019, roadmap measures could be translated into legislation, according to Fashion Network . Europe ditches four million tons of clothing every year, according to Fashion Network. Meanwhile, five million tons are placed on the market. France is one of Europe’s biggest fashion markets — but they throw away 700,000 tons of clothing per year and only recycle 160,000 tons. Green Matters said France was “the first country to pass a law” preventing supermarkets and grocery stores from tossing out food nearing expiration. + Circular Economy Roadmap Via Novethic , Green Matters , My Modern Met , and Fashion Network Images via Alp Allen Altiner on Unsplash and Cam Morin on Unsplash

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France could ban stores from tossing out unsold clothing

Report shows that contamination monitors failed at Hanford Nuclear Site

March 12, 2018 by  
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Last December, as crews were demolishing the Hanford Nuclear Reservation site in Washington, work was halted after monitors alerted individuals that they had inhaled radioactive particles – and we now know that it could have been prevented. According to a new report, mismanagement and carelessness caused the exposure of at least 11 workers to nuclear waste after monitors failed to detect contamination. The Hanover site clean-up has been plagued with problems. Storage tanks have triggered alarms after springing leaks . In May of last year, a tunnel collapsed onto train cars containing nuclear waste. Then in December at the Plutonium Finishing Plant, at least 11 workers were exposed to radioactive materials. On the bright side, the Hanford Site was declared a national park in 2015 , so you can stop by if you want to get a good look at what the technology of war does to the environment. Related: America’s most polluted nuclear site is now a national park Contractor CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Company recently completed their evaluation on what happened in December. According to their report, continuous air monitors used to detect radioactive contamination failed – and officials ignored alarms signaled by the monitors that workers wear on their clothing. Then, when contamination was discovered, the report states that the steps taken to contain the radiation didn’t work. For instance, a fixative used to help contain particles was diluted, which reduced its effectiveness. Negative air pressure exhausters put in place to help contain radiation were also rendered less effective as parts of the structures were torn down. Pieces of debris were sprayed with fixative on one side, but not the other, the report also revealed. Radioactive particles were also found in areas where it shouldn’t be – including in areas where the public is allowed to visit. The report is being reviewed by a Department of Energy panel, and CH2M provided 42 steps that it plans to take to prevent something like this from happening in the future. Via The Tri-City Herald Images via Deposit Photos , Wikimedia, The Department of Energy and Flickr

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Report shows that contamination monitors failed at Hanford Nuclear Site

This Swedish power plant is burning H&M clothes instead of fossil fuels

November 24, 2017 by  
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A Swedish power plant northwest of Stockholm hopes to go fossil fuel free by 2020 – and they’re turning to recycled wood and trash for alternatives, including discarded apparel from retail chain H&M . This year they’ve already burned around 15 tons of H&M clothes. A power plant owned and operated by Malarenergi AB in the town of Vasteras, Sweden is working to transition away from oil and coal, and are turning to a fuel source you might not expect: discarded garments. Head of fuel supplies Jens Neren told Bloomberg, “For us it’s a burnable material. Our goal is to use only renewable and recycled fuels.” Related: Garbage from Hurricane Irma will now help power Florida Sweden boasts a nearly emission-free power system, according to Bloomberg , due to wind, nuclear, and hydro plants. But some local municipalities do use oil and coal for heating on winter days. The country hopes to move away from fossil fuel units by converting old plants to burn trash and biofuels instead. Where do the H&M clothes come in? Malarenergi has a deal with nearby town Eskilstuna to burn their garbage, and some of that comes from a central warehouse of H&M’s. The clothing company’s head of communications Johanna Dahl told Bloomberg, “H&M does not burn any clothes that are safe to use. However it is our legal obligation to make sure that clothes that contain mold or do not comply with our strict restriction on chemicals are destroyed.” The Vasteras plant, which supplies power for around 150,000 households, has burned around 400,000 tons of garbage this year. Bloomberg reported earlier this week, the last coal ship docked in the area to drop off supplies to last until 2020 for the plant’s last two fossil fuel generators, which date back to the 1960s. In 2020, the plant will add a wood-fired boiler to help trash- and biofuel-burning units meet demand. Via Bloomberg Images via Depositphotos and Per Nyström, Scheiwiller Svensson Arkitektkontor AB/Malarenergi AB

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