Over recent decades, “fast fashion” has both developed and been exposed as one of the “dirtiest” industries in the world. Second only to the oil industry in terms of negative environmental and social impacts, for apparel companies targeting cheap prices, quick consumption and fast-tracked disposal, there are hidden costs every step of the way. Conventional textile manufacturing, and particularly that of fast fashion has environmental and social costs associated with pesticide use, harsh chemicals used in dyes, toxic waste in rivers, tolls on workers’ health, and large amounts of clothing in landfills.
Inevitably, things change. At Recover, we are proud of where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going in creating change for a sustainable tomorrow through initiatives today. While (finally), the crucial importance of making choices that support and work for the enjoyment of future generations, a healthy environment, and healthy communities is more and more recognized within the apparel industry and beyond, it continues to have a long way to go. For some companies, there is a general lack of walking the environmentally friendly and socially responsible talk, and so to let everyone know how Recover makes its products and the impacts of our company choices thus far, here is the latest look inside Recover. If change is inevitable, we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that change is for the better.
Since 2010, Recover has worked to innovate and refine a process that addresses our world’s overwhelming issue of plastic pollution through the creation of comfortable, durable and stylish environmentally friendly and socially responsible produced apparel and accessories. Americans throw away approximately 25 million plastic bottles every hour, and these plastic bottles end up in landfills and incinerators, as well as our streets, our rivers, and our oceans. Recover set out to reduce waste in our backyards and use recycled plastic bottles and upcycled cotton scraps to create our products. So, how do we make 100% recycled apparel?
First, we collect and sort post-consumer plastic bottles, stripping them of all labels and caps. Next, we salvage cotton from discarded industry scraps, which are also sorted by color and blended with polyester. The reclaimed fiber is then spun into yarn and knit into fabric, which is ultimately cut and sewn into stylish tees, hoodies, beanies, or socks and ready for any adventure. Our manufacturing process results in a 35% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, 66% reduction in energy consumption, and 55% reduction in water consumption compared to that of a conventionally dyed shirt.
At the end of the day, we believe environmental and social issues are a global responsibility. We strive to make products in areas that can have the most positive impact, and have established partnerships in the U.S., Haiti, and Guatemala accordingly. Reducing carbon emissions and supporting local jobs, communities, and education, every decision we make considers working towards our company mission to create the best, most environmentally friendly and socially responsible products possible, and to educate and inspire those around us to live and work for a sustainable tomorrow.
In terms of supply chain, our 100% local Made in the Carolinas line sources everything including plastic bottles, upcycled cotton, and cut and sew processing from within a 150-mile radius of our headquarters in Charlotte. We also work with facilities and communities in Haiti and Guatemala. In Haiti, Recover partners with a work co-op that creates sustainable jobs and living wages for hundreds of workers, and in Guatemala, Recover’s partner is a state-of-the-art biomass-powered facility that provides work to support many local community members and families.
Making certain choices with the intention to create positive change has yielded measurable impacts. Since 2010, we have diverted 5.4 million plastic bottles from the landfill. With every Recover tee purchased, that number goes up by 8.
Small changes make a big difference, and our goal is to lead innovation and sustainability within the apparel industry by example- as with anything, actions speak loudest.
While we work to create impact in numbers at Recover, we also work to create impact in what you can't necessarily quantify. Partnering with local, national and global nonprofits that are environmentally and socially focused, we directly raise funds for these organizations, spread the word about them, and get out there in the field to work with them whenever we can. Locally, we volunteer with Mountain True river clean-ups in Western North Carolina, picking up littered trash from our waterways that we then upcycle into Recover products. Nationally, we partner with organizations such as Earth Day Network, which we were able to directly donate $16,000 to through the sales of a co-branded tee last April. With Recover’s Protect Our Parks tee and ongoing campaign, we donate $5 from each shirt sale to the National Park Foundation. Globally, we collaborate with work co-ops and facilities in Haiti and Guatemala that create sustainable jobs and positive impact in communities abroad.
Recover also works to educate and inspire through Recover programs and partnerships. Our Recover Artist Development (RAD) program was created to highlight and support up-and-coming artists. We developed the Recover Carbon Offset program to take action to address climate change, and extend action on this pressing global issue beyond Recover's internal choices through work, donation and education with conscious and driven partners. Recover is also proud to collaborate with such organizations as the BFB Foundation, which offers girls and women educational support, personal mentorship, and professional mentorship in the communities surrounding Recover's partner facility in Guatemala.
Further, 1% for the Planet member, Recover is committed to donating at least 1% of total sales to nonprofits, but it has always made sense to us to go above and beyond whatever norms are out there.
Forever learning, evolving, and inspired by lessons of adventures, community, and sustainability, Recover works every day to create a transparent process and impact that we are proud to share.