I didn’t know until recently that you can make fantastic clothing fabric from recycled plastic bottles. One night a couple of months ago I was helping the Director of the environmental non-profit I volunteer for, as she gave a recycling presentation to a group of individuals studying English as a second language. My role was to translate into Spanish as needed when she said something they couldn’t understand (I’m bilingual).
About half way through the workshop the Director pulled out a t-shirt and passed it around to the students, telling them that the shirt was made out of recycled plastic bottles. They could hardly believe it, and neither could I. It was soft and seemed no different than an ordinary t shirt you might find in any store. It was great for the students (and for me) to connect what we’re asked to do (recycle plastic bottles) with a cool end-product, because we all eventually ask ourselves what exactly all these recycled bottles are used for.
Curious as to how hard plastic bottles become soft fabric? Take a look at this article about Foss Manufacturing, a plant in New Hampshire that converts over 350 million bottles a year into high quality fabric. The plastic goes through an intricate process starting with bottles being broken down into flakes that are then melted, cooled and stretched out into fiber filaments, and then woven together to create fabric. It takes about ten bottles to make one pound of fabric (so about 17 bottles for a sweatshirt).
The use of recycled bottles is quickly going mainstream not just in clothing but also in other fabrics used by companies like Joann Fabrics, Michael’s, and Walmart. The fabric is also increasingly being used to create chic clothing and accessories. The stylish chocolate-colored hobo bag from Fleurville to the left, for example, uses six plastic bottles in its fabric and is ideal for someone like a harried mom keeping baby bottles, sippy cuts and the like as she goes about her daily life.
With over 51 billion plastic bottles ending up unwanted or in landfills every year, they could become a huge resource for companies manufacturing all manner of stylish, functional clothing as well other items of daily life from carpet to car seats. Please support your local efforts to reuse this valuable material by recycling every plastic bottle you use!
Want to see other cool stuff can be made from recycled products? Check out Five Gorgeous Recycled Glass Kitchen Countertops.)