The best thing that could be done for the environment is to not use plastic and to have never used it on such a large scale, however that’s not the case and we are left with several leftover plastic products that ended up sitting in the landfill… unless we do something about it. We have a finite supply of resources and only one earth, so we have to do our part and ensure that we are taking care of the planet we share; one of the best ways of doing this is converting previously single use plastic items into items that can be used over and over again.
Some examples of recycled plastic items include: outdoor area rugs, recycled plastic picnic tables, building homes with recycled plastic bottles, and even converting plastic items back into the same plastic item once they are recycled. One type of recycled plastic item that has been setting trends and taking off that you may not have considered before: recycled plastic clothing.
From Plastic Bottle to Polyester and Even Fleece
The idea of sporting around actual plastic wrappers, water bottles and yogurt cups is probably not very consuming to the average person (unless you’re Lady Gaga), which is why several companies have been able to create polyester and synthetic fabrics from recycled plastic water bottles. Recycled plastic water bottles are largely seen as a waste and can leech carcinogens into the water, but since so many consumers use them it’s best to put them to use somehow. What these companies do is buy bottles and other plastic materials that have been turned into flakes or pellets of plastic resin. Then from there, the plastic resin pieces are converted into yarn, which is used to spin jeans, shirts, etc.
Interestingly, one company has even found a way to make ultra-soft fleece with the recycled plastic water bottles. Now you can have the look and feel of fleece without having to use natural resources in order to produce it, as well as making use of plastic bottles that would normally end up in a landfill sitting for hundreds of years.
Clothing made of plastic shouldn’t be the endpoint in our battle to stop or reverse climate change; rather, it should be a temporary solution to our lackluster use of plastic water bottles and other plastic packaging items. In an ideal world, we would only use plastic for multiple use items (i.e. kayaks, clothing, and containers) but, until then, this is an extremely viable and practical solution that prevents plastic bottles from landing in the dump.
Plastic fiber before it is spun into thread (Image: John Tierney)