The bottles, however, come from beautiful national parks, where there shouldn't be any bottles in the first place.
Every outdoor gear company seems to be jumping on the recycled polyester bandwagon these days. It's reached the point where, if a product doesn't contain recycled plastic water bottles, it's the anomaly.
The North Face is the latest big name to join the eco-fashion trend. Its new 'Bottle Source' line of t-shirts and tote bags is made from plastic water bottles collected from three national parks -- Yosemite, Grand Teton, and Great Smoky Mountains. So far it has collected 160,000 lbs of plastic bottles. One dollar from the sale of each item will go to the National Park Foundation to support sustainability projects, such as bear-proof recycling bins and reusable water bottle filling stations.
As explained in a most rudimentary way in the following video clip, the bottles are ground, melted, and spun into thread that's blended with cotton for a soft, comfy fit.
In a press release, James Rogers, director of sustainability at the North Face, calls Bottle Source "the next step in our materials innovation." I'm happy to hear him say that, since fabric has the potential to be so much more innovative than the way it's currently produced, and I hope to see companies like The North Face forging that path.
For example, these shirts, as nice as they are, contain only 40 percent recycled polyester and 60 percent cotton. We know that cotton has a huge impact on the environment, using 20,000 litres of water per kilogram of cotton and 24 percent of the total pesticides used in agriculture. The North Face could push its environmental standards even further by incorporating organic, fair-trade cotton into these shirts, or using recycled cotton, or even making them entirely from recycled polyester -- more bottles diverted (at least temporarily) from landfill!
About those bottles, though... I can't help but have a little TreeHugger moment here. Why are single-use plastic bottles even allowed in national parks? How sad is it that The North Face has been able to source 160,000 lbs of plastic bottles from those three famously stunning parks? I bet it wasn't even that hard. I'm all for making the best of an unpleasant situation, which is precisely what Bottle Source is doing, but let's not stop there.