The North Face and National Geographic Are Making Clothes From Plastic Water Bottles

© The North Face. The North Face

The limited edition pieces are designed to give plastic waste a second life.

If you're in the market for a new t-shirt or sweatshirt, here's one cool eco-friendly option to check out. Outdoor gear retailer The North Face has been making a special line of clothing called Bottle Source for the past year. The tees and tote bags are made from plastic water bottles collected from three national parks in the United States – Yosemite, Grand Teton, and Great Smoky Mountains.

Today it launches a limited edition collaboration with National Geographic, still within the Bottle Source collection, but this time featuring the phrase 'Waste Is Over' on all of the clothing items. This phrase is meant to "speak to our commitment to recycling and reusing plastics in new alternative ways." A press release provides some background information on the extent of the plastic pollution problem:

"Over 8 billion metric tons of plastic have been produced since 1950, and that number is projected to increase to 34 billion metric tons by 2050. As of 2015, only around 9 percent of plastic was estimated to have been recycled. The world is struggling with a single-use plastic crisis and it is time for action."

It's clear that we need to figure out something to do with all this waste. Halting plastic production altogether would, of course, be an ideal solution, but extending its lifespan in the form of recycled clothing, while simultaneously reducing demand for virgin petroleum-based fabrics, is a second-best option.

I am a fan of using natural fabrics whenever possible, but I also realize how unrealistic this can be, especially when we're talking about athletic gear. I wrote in a post last fall,

"If we can transform a waste product into something that people are already buying in large quantities, while reducing demand for its virgin equivalent, it will, at the very least, buy us time – time to come up with better options for safe laundering, end-of-life disposal, recycling/upcycling, and innovation in sustainable fabrics that can perform in similar ways to synthetics."

So I am always happy to see clothing manufacturers embracing recycled materials, as it indicates a willingness to work with what we've already got in large quantities on this planet – garbage – and refrain from driving further extraction.

The North Face says it will donate $1 from the sale of every Bottle Source item to the National Park Foundation, which will be used to support sustainability projects and programs.

You can learn more here.