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Can We Move From Waste to Wardrobe?


There’s an undeniable allure to the adage that one man’s trash can indeed become another man’s treasure. This rings remarkably true when we bring Repreve© into the conversation.

Picture this: post-industrial waste, litter discarded without a second thought, metamorphosing into a breathable and flexible yarn. The result? An array of products ranges from athletic footwear to the most comfortable of couches, and yes, a smorgasbord of apparel.

But where does printing on Repreve© fit into this equation? What influence does it wield on the end product? Could this be your new favorite in the lineup of sustainable fabric choices?

What is Repreve©?

Simply put, Repreve© is a game-changer. It’s a fabric made from recycled plastic bottles typically destined for the landfill. The journey begins with the collection of such waste and its transportation to a recycling facility. Our protagonists, the sourced bottles, are chopped, cleaned, and melted at the Repreve© Bottle Processing Center in Reidsville, NC, where they undergo transformation into flakes and then chips. In the final stage of this process, the chip is heated, released, and spun into the Repreve© fiber – the star of our story. 

This high-quality, recycled polyester fiber, the brainchild of the brilliant minds at Unifi, offers a sustainable alternative to virgin polyester in the apparel industry. The process comes with a U Trust© verification that certifies it as recycled content and ensures proper use of Repreve© throughout the process. Picture a million pounds of waste given a shot at reincarnation in the form of fabric, time and again. It’s nothing short of a miracle.

Why Use Repreve’s© Recycled Fiber Polyester?

Repreve© is an exemplar of how recycled materials can seamlessly replace virgin polyester without sacrificing an iota of quality or functionality in the textile. The resultant fabric boasts thermal comfort and moisture-wicking properties, making it an excellent candidate for athletic apparel. The Repreve© fiber serves the same function as virgin polyester. Still, it’s the significant reduction in environmental footprint during its production that truly cements its place as a sustainability champion in the textile industry. Did you know that for each kilogram of Repreve© material produced, up to 62% less energy and 99% less water are utilized compared to virgin polyester fabric? Moreover, Repreve© polyester reduces waste by up to 35% and curbs carbon dioxide emissions by up to 20%.

The story of Repreve©’s environmental benefits extends beyond repurposing plastic bottles. Its production process is less demanding in terms of energy and water compared to virgin polyester, making it an eco-friendly powerhouse. By reducing the volume of plastic waste that lands up in landfills and our oceans, Repreve© contributes significantly to our planet’s well-being.

Fun Fact: Garments that use Repreve© also don’t need to be tumble-dried, reducing the average household’s carbon footprint by a whopping 2,400 pounds a year.

Polyester, regardless of whether it’s virgin or recycled, invariably introduces the concern of microplastics seeping into our water supply and eventually making their way to our oceans. Companies like Guppies have engineered ways to wash polyester without allowing micro-plastic leakage back into the environment which may be an option, but not as sustainable as simply not producing polyester.

However, we must acknowledge that Repreve© is repurposing trash, water bottles, and other harmful plastics, originally destined for our oceans, into synthetic fabric. Utilizing Repreve© fiber grants these items a new lease on life, but this doesn’t mean they vanish completely. Recycled polyester, like its counterparts, still ends up in landfills and requires hundreds of years to decompose. This decomposition process releases harmful toxins and greenhouse gases into our environment.

Choosing to print with fabrics rocking Repreve fibers is your call and your call alone. Sustainability? It often feels like we’re trying to pull off a tricky high-wire act. On one side of the coin, we’re printers and innovators, making merchandise that adds that extra spark to life. On the flip, we are Earth’s protectors and have to protect this planet we call home.

We’re forever navigating this tightrope, gravitating towards eco-friendly materials that help us dial down our carbon footprints. This eco-awareness vibe isn’t just some passing trend – it’s a rallying cry that’s got our attention. We’re totally tuned into the need to conserve water, save energy, and integrate these values into our production and products.

How Do I Start?

A favorite in our shop is the Allmade Tri-Blend. This eco-conscious mix flaunts 50% recycled polyester (Repreve©), spun from recycled plastic bottles, 25% organic cotton, and a sweet 25% Tencel™ Modal. 

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