Virgin vs recycled polyester made with Repreve®
Why buy recycled?
To be honest, it's the best solution for a bad situation. Wearing synthetics will always be bad for the environment. They are made of plastic, require a huge amount of oil and non-renewable resources, and are the biggest contributor to microfibers in our oceans.
Synthetics currently make up 60% of the textiles produced. Because of the quick drying, recovery and wrinkle free properties they are an ideal fabric for swimwear and activewear. These benefits make it difficult to switch entirely away from synthetics. In addition, while natural fibers don't use non renewable resources, switching to 100% natural fibers would put a huge strain our our land and water use. It's a tricky balance.
So when you need to wear synthetics, a good compromise is to use fabrics made with recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET). While it's still made of plastic and microfibers will still shed with each wash, it does allow us to avoid creating virgin plastics and helps keep existing plastic bottles from ending up in our oceans.
Converting PET into recycled polyester uses less water and energy than it would to produce virgin polyester. Most studies show that between 33-53% less energy is used to create recycled polyester vs virgin. In addition, less CO2 emissions are produced and we do not need to use non-renewable resources (petroleum).
Source: Unifi, LLC
Source: Unifi, LLC
"Polyester is the most used fiber in the apparel industry. And as Textile Exchange has worked to move the market to preferred fibers, such as organic cotton, it is time that we do the same for polyester. We must move from oil as a feedstock to plastic bottles and eventually postconsumer textiles in a big way. LCA data, the Higg MSI and MADE-BY Environmental Benchmark makes rPET the clear choice."
Karla Magruder Fabrikology, rPET WG Lead for Textile Exchange
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