8,000 barrels of oil spill in the Peruvian Amazon

December 14, 2018 by  
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Approximately 8,000 barrels of crude oil have spilled into the Amazon, and the Peru State oil company Petroperu says its because local indigenous people severed the pipeline. According to a company statement , members of the Mayuriaga community in the Loreto region first damaged the pipeline and then interfered with the technicians trying to repair it. “The townspeople prevented us from securing the pipe to stop petroleum from spilling from the pipe,” said Beatriz Alva Hart, a Petroperu spokeswoman. The spill is one of the worst the region has seen in years, and it comes after the Mayuriaga community threatened to attack the pipeline in protest of recent district election results. Related: Crude oil spill off Newfoundland coast deemed impossible to clean up The pipeline transports the crude from the Peruvian Amazon oil fields to Petroperu’s refinery on the Pacific coast. And, during the past two years, local vandals have attacked it fifteen different times over issues that have nothing to do with the company. Data from OEFA, an environmental regulator, shows that the repeated attacks have caused over 20,000 barrels to spill from the critical pipeline , and over 5,000 barrels have sprung leaks thanks to corrosion or operative failures. The leader of Peru’s Wampis Nation — whose members make up the Mayuriaga community — has denied Petroperu’s accusations. Just days before the spill, the company received a handwritten letter from three individuals threatening to damage the Norperuano pipeline if the company didn’t declare recent election results invalid. They also claimed fraud and corruption in the local mayoral election. The letter’s authors identify as indigenous peoples of Morona, the district that contains the Wampis community of Mayuriaga, which sits about 500 yards from the spill site. Petroperu is not in charge of the local elections, but 20 of their employees were held hostage before the threatening letter arrived, a practice that the Mayuriaga community has been accused of in the past. Company officials have still not been able to assess the damage from the spill or do any cleanup work because the community will not allow them to enter the area safely. Via Reuters , Earther Image via Shutterstock

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8,000 barrels of oil spill in the Peruvian Amazon

5 Children’s Books That Expertly Teach About the Environment

December 14, 2018 by  
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We all know that reading to our children every night … The post 5 Children’s Books That Expertly Teach About the Environment appeared first on Earth911.com.

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5 Children’s Books That Expertly Teach About the Environment

Major utility company Xcel Energy commits to go carbon-free by 2050

December 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Green

A major utility company is making history. Xcel Energy, Colorado’s largest utility company, has pledged to go completely carbon-free by 2050. The company serves eight states, and its ambitious new carbon reduction goal far exceeds its current target of a 60 percent reduction in Colorado by 2026. “Our biggest energy source in a few short years is going to be renewable energy . We’re going to absolutely integrate as much of that as we can into the grid,” said Xcel CEO Ben Fowke. The company said that it will be 80 percent carbon-free by 2030 before reaching the goal of 100 percent carbon reduction in 2050. These changes should mean more solar and wind energy  along with a reduction of coal. Fowke said that there will also be other technologies needed to meet the 100 percent carbon goal, including battery storage technology and maybe even carbon sequestration. Related: Blue dye could be the next key to harnessing renewable energy Xcel serves 3.6 million people in Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan, New Mexico, Texas, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota. For years, those customers have been demanding that the company make some changes. The utility company said that it really does listen to its customers, and with citizens of cities all over Colorado deciding that they want 100 percent renewable energy, Xcel decided it would be in its best interest to give the customers what they have asked for. Xcel’s commitment is the latest in announcements by large utility companies regarding huge new carbon reduction goals. Indiana’s NIPSCO sped up the retirement of multiple coal plants in favor of renewable energy, and Midwestern Utility MidAmerican announced that it would reach its 100 percent renewable energy goal by 2020. With companies turning away from fossil fuels in favor of renewables like wind and solar, the U.S. Energy Information Administration expects America’s coal consumption to soon be at its lowest level in four decades. Via CPR Image via Laura Lee Dooley

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Major utility company Xcel Energy commits to go carbon-free by 2050

Zero-waste kit ensures reusable essentials are always nearby

December 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

The zero-waste movement has consistently gained momentum over the past ten years with many millennials focusing on minimalist lifestyles and conservation of natural resources. More than any generation in nearly a century, attitudes towards lower consumption, conscientious purchasing and limited waste are a big part of societal discussion and awareness. One advocate who has practiced a zero-waste lifestyle for several years has taken the next step in helping others do the same. Marina Qutab, a San Diego-based entrepreneur, decided to kick start the waste-free idea in her area and across the country with the creation of the Zero Waste Kit. Speaking of kick starting, the  Kickstarter campaign  reached it’s $10,000 goal in the first 24 hours and has continued to gain support (Kickstarter campaign closes Dec. 15, 2018). Related: 10 ideas for zero-waste gift wrapping The Zero Waste kit makes using and transporting commonly-used daily essentials easy and convenient. Neatly packed into a portable multi-purpose glass jar, the kit includes reusable items such as a bamboo utensil that is half spoon and half fork and two reusable produce bags to have at the ready when you swing by the farmer’s market. There is also a stainless steel straw, which is convenient with so many areas jumping onto the #nostraw wagon. The included napkin is sourced from fabric recovered from the manufacturing scrap floor and includes a pouch that holds all the contents of the kit when you need the jar for something else. Not only is each item aimed at eliminating waste, but the products are manufactured with sustainability in mind. Locally-sourced materials and labor exemplify Marina’s overarching goal “to make healthier, more compassionate lifestyle choices that are in alignment with our mother earth.” Equally important, at the end of the life cycle, each of the primary ingredients in the kit can either be recycled or composted so that no part in the process produces more waste. When asked about her inspiration for her zero-waste lifestyle and subsequent efforts to encourage others, Marina replied, “My life changed at the age of 10 when I traveled to my father’s homeland of Pakistan, and was exposed to pollution like I had never seen before. It was one night when I blew my nose and found black soot in my tissue that I made the simple realization that our actions impact our environment. I traveled home to America with a newfound sense of purpose and motivation for being the change I wished to see in the world.” Related: Cities around the world lay the groundwork for a zero-waste future She went on to explain that converting to the zero-waste lifestyle offered many challenges, the main one being that her best intentions were not always in alignment with her end goal. She often found herself wanting to pull out her reusable shopping bag, only to realize it was at home. At the smoothie shop, she wanted to decline the single-use cup, but didn’t have an alternative. Finding that people in her community also struggled to make the zero-waste lifestyle more convenient was the motivation she internalized to create an essentials kit she and others could always have nearby. + {Zero} Waste Kit Photography by Alex Mortenson via {Zero} Waste Kit

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Zero-waste kit ensures reusable essentials are always nearby

Low-budget, bioclimatic home boasts a minimal energy footprint in Costa Rica

December 12, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

When clients Luis and Marce approached design collective YUSO proyectos for their new home in Costa Rica, they already had a very clear idea of what they wanted. First and foremost, the clients wanted the concept of “honesty” to define not only the design and construction process, but also the final appearance and function of the bioclimatic home. As a result, the site-specific project — dubbed the Esparza House — is primarily built from natural materials with minimal and natural finishes. Located on a rural plot in San Rafael, Costa Rica , the Esparza House was completed for a cost of roughly $84,300 USD and spans a footprint of 1,345 square feet. To keep costs within budget, the architects decided against a concrete slab foundation in favor of elevated footings. The architects also worked with the commercial sizing of the building materials to minimize construction waste and costs. Excess materials were used for decorative purposes. “The project is characterized by the word ‘HONESTY’, a concept that was present in all stages of design and construction,” said the architects, who cite honesty with the environment, honesty with materials, and honesty with clients. “The construction project was designed to adapt to the environment through the setting of the building within the surrounding landscape; bioclimatic housing design to ensure the residents’ comfort in an environment characterized by humid tropical forests with high temperatures and humidity; use of materials with low carbon footprint such as wood; implementation of a rainwater harvesting system for domestic use; as well as a wastewater treatment system to separate organic and inorganic waste.” Related: This sustainable bioclimatic home is made of volcanic ash and prickly pear fibers Filled with natural light and oriented to follow passive design principles, the three-bedroom home maintains a low-energy footprint and stays naturally cool. A digital three-dimensional model was used through the design process as a helpful aid in communicating with the clients and mocking up all proposed modifications. The model was ultimately a “faithful copy of the finished house.” + YUSO proyectos Via ArchDaily Photography by Roberto D´Ambrosio via YUSO proyectos

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Low-budget, bioclimatic home boasts a minimal energy footprint in Costa Rica

Study finds microplastics in sea turtles around the world

December 12, 2018 by  
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The microplastics problem in the oceans has made its way to sea turtles in a big way. A new study from researchers at the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory along with Greenpeace Research Laboratories has found microplastics in the guts of every single turtle they tested — a total of 102 sea turtles. The researchers tested more than 100 sea turtles from all seven species and three different oceans , and they were looking for synthetic particles less than 5 mm in length. The most common thing the team found were fibers, which most likely came from clothing, tires, cigarette filters and fishing equipment. Related: Microplastics have made their way into human poop “The effect of these particles on turtles is unknown,” said lead author Emily Duncan from the University of Exeter’s Center for Ecology and Conservation. “Their small size means they can pass through the gut without causing a blockage, as is frequently reported with larger plastic fragments.” Duncan added that future work should focus on the effects of microplastics in aquatic organisms , and researchers should look for possible contaminants, bacteria or viruses as well as how the microplastics affect turtles on a cellular level. The researchers found more than 800 synthetic particles in the turtles , but since they only tested part of the gut, they believe the total number of particles could be 20 times higher. They don’t know how the turtles ingest the particles, but they think the sources are polluted seawater and the digestion of polluted prey or plants. Professor Brendan Godley, the senior author of the study, said that the ingestion of microplastics isn’t the biggest threat to sea turtles at the moment, but it is a clear sign that we need to do a better job governing global waste . Penelope Lindeque from Plymouth Marine Laboratory said that during their work over the years, researchers have found microplastics in all of the marine animals they have studied. This turtle study is just more evidence that we need to reduce the amount of plastic waste, so we can maintain clean and healthy oceans for future generations. + University of Exeter Image via Jeremy Bishop

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Study finds microplastics in sea turtles around the world

This calculator tracks the carbon emissions of your travels

December 11, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

The global community has become increasingly smaller in recent decades thanks to affordable travel . But just because distance is no longer a major barrier, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a negative side of traveling — the environmental impact. Now, thanks to Mission Emission by Oblik Studio, there is a new “ emission-free travel calculator ” that can calculate the emissions a vehicle will produce when commuting to specific destinations, and it also suggests sustainable, alternative ways to reach your destination. In addition to providing information on the emissions of a specific trip, the calculator will also tell you the carbon footprint of your trip and the damage your trip can cause to you and the environment. Users can find out the amount of time a tree will need to absorb the CO2 emissions from a specified trip. Related: How to use a carbon footprint calculator to maximize energy savings For example, when using the calculator, you will discover that the 120-mile drive from Los Angeles to San Diego in a small car that uses gasoline has a fuel consumption of 23.1 miles per gallon and CO2 emissions of 13.9 ounces per mile. Plus, it takes a tree 2.17 years to absorb the amount of CO2 emitted during the trip. The website comes from the Mission Emission project, which has a goal to raise awareness of the global pollution problem and the environmental impact of travel while helping users learn how to reduce their environmental waste. Recently, concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide have reached their highest level in 800,000 years. CO2 emissions rose a startling 60 percent between 1990 and 2014 before leveling off for three years. However, in 2017, they started to rise again. Since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015, heads of state and other world leaders have committed to fight climate change through policy. However, individuals still need to do their part in the fight, and the Mission Emission Project is hoping that the travel calculator will help people do just that. + Mission Emission Images via Mission Emission

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This calculator tracks the carbon emissions of your travels

A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for family

December 11, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

When it comes to family, we want to offer the best of the best. The smartest way to gift high-quality gifts to your loved ones is by shopping sustainably. Eco-friendly products (and experiences) are made with love and care for people and the planet. Here are some of our top picks for everyone in your family. For mom: Eco-friendly yoga mats Mom deserves some ‘me’ time. Whether she is an avid yogi or is just getting started, this plant-based yoga mat is made with cork . It’s also free of harsh chemicals, antibacterial and odor-free. The cork is sustainable and helps provide a stronger grip. Hobby classes Does your mom love to cook? Maybe she could spend hours making pottery , or perhaps she enjoys painting. No matter her preferences, buy a pass or certificate for classes that interest her. This is a thoughtful gift of experience, which will leave her with lovely memories for years to come. Sweaters Who doesn’t love a snuggly sweater? We love the various options from Patagonia — the company is a champion for the environment, plus their products are built to last whether Mom likes to sit on the couch in her sweater or explore the great outdoors. Sustainable jewelry Add a little extra bling to your mom’s envy-inducing jewelry box with eco-friendly, ethical accessories. There are many beautiful, unique options from 31Bits , which works with women artisans in Uganda, Indonesia and the U.S. to provide fair working conditions and wages as well as healthcare, mentorship, counseling and more. For dad: Organic skincare There is no better way to show your love for someone than by giving them the gift of healthy skin. Whether it is something to moisturize the rough patches under a beard, something to soothe cracked knuckles or a myriad of products, gift Dad with organic skincare that will allow him to pamper himself daily. We love this line , which is made from recycled coffee grounds and only uses plant-based packaging. Watches Adorn Dad’s wrist with a new watch that will keep him punctual and stylish. Be sure to choose a brand with the environment in mind, like WeWood . WeWood offers wood watches free of toxic, artificial materials. Plus, WeWood plants a tree for each watch sold, and these wooden watches are sure to stand out among a sea of their metallic counterparts. Related: Inhabitat test drives a gorgeous WeWood watch Wool shirts Wool is incredibly durable with the ability to withstand the coldest of temperatures and wick away moisture with ease. Add a sleek wool shirt to Dad’s closet with options like Ramblers Way , a family-owned business in the U.S. that is dedicated to respecting the sheep, the environment and the people. The company uses 100 percent wool and donates time and money to local causes ranging from environmental conservation to human need to arts and education. Vegan or recycled leather jackets The jokes might be lame, but Dad can at least look cool in an environmentally responsible leather jacket. There are many vegan options on the market, or you can embrace reuse with a jacked from Better World Fashion . These jackets are made from recycled leather and the buttons are made with recycled metal. The certified B corp also relies on responsible production methods, uses zero water or chemicals and creates zero waste. For siblings: Eco-friendly subscription boxes Subscription boxes are the gift that keeps on giving, but it is important to find ones that advocate for the environment. Surprise your siblings month after month with a subscription to companies like the Bloomin’ Bin , Feeling Fab , KloverBox , MightyFix  and more. Everlane clothing With a commitment to ethical, sustainable fashion, Everlane offers eco-friendly unisex clothing, shoes and accessories that are sure to please. Be sure to browse the ReNew collection , which offers puffer coats, pullover sweaters and parkas all made from recycled water bottles. Zero-waste kit Help your siblings lower their carbon footprints (truly the best gift of all) by gifting them a zero-waste kit. Specifically, we recommend the {Zero} Waste Kit , which includes a glass jar with a leak-proof, organic bamboo lid; a sustainable cork sleeve for mugs; a reusable, ethically-sourced bamboo dual utensil; a stainless steel straw with an eco-friendly cleaner; a napkin made from upcycled fabric scraps; a knife with a ceramic blade and a bamboo handle; and organic cotton produce bags. Whew! That’s a lot of bang for your buck, and everything your loved ones could need to really embrace the zero-waste lifestyle. Indoor garden With a snappy indoor garden , your siblings can grow their very own food for weeks, months and years to come. We love Click + Grow , which is energy-efficient, small space-friendly and easy to use. In our own tests, we had sprouts from seed in just two days! It’s a great gift for those who would love to grow their own food, but might not have a lot of time or space to do so. For grandparents: Natural candles Nothing beats visiting your grandparents and taking in the comforting scents that fill their home (especially if they love to bake!). Add to the aroma with natural candles. Standard, store-bought candles can be toxic, so be sure to find sustainable candles made from responsibly sourced soy, coconut or palm wax. Also, ensure the wick is lead-free and made with cotton. Check Etsy for a wide range of handmade, eco-friendly candles. Related: Making soy candles for the holidays Birdhouses We all get a bit of joy from hearing birds chirp and watching as they soar above us. Gift this joy to Grandma and Grandpa by giving them a beautiful, handcrafted birdhouse that will spruce up their yard and bring cheerful birds around each day. Reading subscriptions Another gift that continues long after the holidays are over, a subscription for books, magazines or newspapers are an excellent present for grandparents who love to read. If they are open to going digital, it’ll save paper — otherwise, encourage them to recycle or upcycle the products when they have finished them! Choose their favorite media and topics, or introduce them to some reading that focuses on sustainability. Family photos Most grandparents would love to receive pictures of their family to place around their homes. Have your images printed with eco-friendly ink on sustainable paper , and then frame it in reclaimed wood or recycled materials. If you really want to go all out, organize a photoshoot with the whole family, and then frame those photos for a sweet sentiment. Images via George Dolgikh , Urbivore , Cally Lawson , Rocknwool , Artem Bali , Grums Aarhus , Ramblers Way , Franklin Heijnen , Kloverbox , Everlane , Alex Mortensen / {Zero} Waste Kit , Click + Grow , Joanna Kosinska , Nora Vellinga , Jonas Jacobsson , Shutterstock and Inhabitat

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A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for family

A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for travelers

December 10, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

For those who will be traveling far and wide in the new year, make sure their journeys are eco-friendly with an array of green gifts that will take them to the beaches, the forests or the mountaintops. Here are some of our favorite picks for those who enjoy living a nomadic lifestyle. Transit tickets to a nearby destination It’s no secret that air travel has a massive carbon footprint . To scratch the travel bug itch, gift loved ones with tickets for more sustainable forms of transportation to local destinations. Check out bike-shares, trains, buses or other public transit options to an exciting or interesting place. Airbnb stays The sharing economy has been thrust into the spotlight thanks to services like Airbnb . With thousands of incredible homestays, this makes a great gift for the explorers in your life. Check out cabins, tiny homes and more . Hammocks Give your favorite explorer a hammock, so they can relax or nap wherever the road takes them! These Yellow Leaf Hammocks are handcrafted by artisan weavers, so your purchase supports these workers and their families. There are 100 percent cotton options available, and all of these hammocks are weather-proof and resistant to fading. Solar-powered charger Even if your gift recipient loves to go off the grid, cellphones can be important to have on hand in times of emergencies. A solar-powered charger is great for camping, hiking or traveling, and this option even has a built-in LED flashlight. Journals Whether they want to write about or sketch their adventures, your loved ones will adore this handmade journal to accompany and record their journeys. The journal is ethically crafted from Lokta paper (a tree-free, renewable resource) and protected with a durable felt cover and a leather belt or cloth tie. Explore Local Box Created by a kindred traveling spirit, the Explore Local Box is an excellent subscription service for the adventurers in your life. Each month, the company chooses a city (one that the team has explored previously) and fills a box with locally made goods from that area. You’ll find art, household items, food and more each month. It’s a gift that keeps on giving! Backpacks Hiking, camping and, of course, backpacking are nearly impossible to do without a sturdy, reliable backpack to carry one’s necessities. Osprey offers backpacks for every type of explorer, and each bag has plenty of storage space and functional features to make them comfortable and efficient. Plus, these backpacks are built to last (the company will gladly repair any of its products, no matter the purchase date) — a feature we love. Hydro Flask Staying hydrated is crucial to a successful journey, which is why a Hydro Flask is the perfect gift for globetrotters. The company offers a variety of drink receptacles, from water bottles that attach to backpacks to coffee mugs, wine carriers and more. Each container comes in a variety of colors, or customize one for an extra special present. Related: Get ready for an adventure with this ultimate checklist of backpacking essentials Boots A trusty pair of boots can take you through miles and miles of mountains, hills, deserts, forests and more. Whether your recipient is scaling a mountain or shuffling through the snow in the driveway, these boots by KEEN will take them far. Plus, KEEN loves to give back and is on a mission to hit zero-waste at its headquarters. Tree tents Take an explorer to new heights with a tent that lets them sleep among the treetops. We’ve mentioned our love for Tentsile’s tree tents time and time again , and we also appreciate that the company plants trees to promote healthy forests. You can also check out Tree Tents , a U.K.-based company that offers prefab glamping pods that are locally and responsibly sourced. This company also proudly partners with communities to plant trees. Visit.org experiences For a gift that takes travelers off the beaten path, check out Visit.org . This website offers a wide array of experiences around the world that range from yoga classes in NYC to artisan workshops in Peru to community tree planting events in South Africa. Each experience aids an important cause, and you can even search by location or type of cause. Images via Simon Migaj , Jack Anstey , Airbnb , Yellow Leaf Hammocks , Etsy , Explore Local Box , Adrian , KEEN , Tentsile , Lukas Budimaier  and Shutterstock

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A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for travelers

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

November 29, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

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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

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