All of Patagonia's Waterproof Shells Are Now Recycled and Fair Trade

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©. Patagonia

Can we hear them saying, "I told you so!" to the rest of the outdoor gear industry?

Patagonia is at it again, proving that the clothing industry doesn't have to be nearly as wasteful as other companies would have us believe. For years, the industry has been saying it's too expensive and too difficult to make exterior jacket material from recycled plastic, and that the resulting material won't perform as well, but after years of trial and error, Patagonia would beg to differ.

The outdoor gear company has just announced that 100 percent of its waterproof shells, which includes 61 styles for men, women, and children, are all made with recycled materials and sewn in Fair Trade Certified factories. While some are entirely recycled, others are partially, which works out to 69 percent of this season's line being made with recycled materials. Considering that the industry norm is only 15 percent, this is an impressive accomplishment.

The clothing pieces travel around the globe before arriving in Patagonia's North American stores. They start as plastic chips in Italy and Slovenia, are woven and spun into yarn in Japan, then cut and stitched into garments in Vietnam. All this international movement might seem wasteful, but Patagonia defends it in a press release:

"You might think that shipping our products all over the world is the leading source of greenhouse gas pollution, but it’s not. In fact, most of our carbon emissions – 97 percent – come from our supply chain. And creating virgin synthetic fibers accounts for 86 percent of those emissions. The more recycled fabrics we make, the closer we’ll get to carbon neutrality across our entire business by 2025."

In a world suffocating under 8.3 billion pounds of plastic, where the amount being produced annually surpasses the entire weight of humanity, we desperately need solutions like this one offered by Patagonia. We need all companies to come up with innovative ways to transform waste materials into newly usable ones and to implement them across entire product lines. And we need to support those businesses that do prioritize recycling. I know without a doubt where my next raincoat will come from.

Learn more in Patagonia's August 2019 gear issue and its Footprint Chronicles blog.