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Patagonia’s Recycled Materials: Sustainability Meets Durability

Feb 24, 2020

Patagonia’s status as the conscientious outdoor brand is well-deserved and unchallenged. Doing business sustainably and ethically is what Patagonia has always been about – truly prioritising the planet and its people over profit margins. Walking the walk purely because that’s the right thing to do, never because it’s a nice marketing box to tick.

If you’ve visited our site or been on our blog before, you may already know how fond we are of Patagonia. It aligns with our ethos as a retailer and, if you’re reading this, probably your values too.

What we’re going to talk about in this post is Patagonia’s use of recycled materials and how that affects the finished products, with some SS20 examples to illustrate.

But first...

Why does Patagonia use recycled materials?

As we all know, the world’s landfills and oceans are polluted with enough plastics as it is. This means that we already have plenty of existing materials ripe for repurposing, so creating yet more new plastics from scratch is not only needless, but needlessly harmful.

That’s why Patagonia uses recycled polyester – made from used plastic bottles and manufacturing waste – to create polyester fibres, which are then used to produce many of the brand’s most popular products. According to Patagonia’s June 2019 blog post, ‘What we’re doing about our plastic problem’, 69% of all the brand’s materials are now derived from recycled materials.

And of course, Patagonia launched its Worn Wear initiative, which encourages customers to head in-store and trade in any unwanted or worn-out Patagonia items. Then, instead of throwing this stuff into landfill or incinerating it, Patagonia recycles the recyclable materials ASAP, and just stockpiles the unrecyclable, in the hope that it becomes recyclable in the future.

If you want to read about this in more depth, check out this article on Patagonia’s own blog.

How do these recycled materials affect product quality?

In Patagonia’s case, at least, the use of recycled polyester does not lessen the quality of the clothing. If anything, it enhances the end products, because everything is done properly – from the development of the fibres themselves, right through to the manufacture of each individual garment.

“The transition to polyester happened because we could offer an economical alternative to wool with similar performance and comfort characteristics,” explains Ryan Thompson, one of Patagonia’s R&D heads. “It’s a great material to layer. We can manage polyester’s affinity to water, it’s durable even at light weights and it’s easier to maintain because it’s machine washable and dryable.”

In the same blog post, Patagonia says, 

Again, if you want to geek out on all of this stuff like we do, read this.

Now, let’s take a look at some SS20 gear that’s made wholly (or mostly) from recycled materials.

The Torrentshell 3L Jacket

Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Jackets at Urban Industry

The ECONYL nylon ripstop face that covers the outer shell of this jacket is 100% recycled, and the polycarbonate PU membrane contains 13% bio-based content, making this one of the most eco-friendly rain jackets on the market right now.

Plus, sustainability aside, the Torrentshell 3L is a serious upgrade on previous Torrentshell models, in terms of performance. The shell – constructed from 3-layer H2No Performance Standard fabric – is not only the most weatherproof yet, yielding to neither water nor wind, but it’s also tough and durable, thanks to the 3.3oz nylon ripstop face (yep, the one that’s 100% recycled!).

If you’d like a closer look, here are the four Torrentshell 3L colours that we have in stock.

The Houdini Snap-T Pullover

Sticking with the theme of 100% recycled nylon ripstop, let’s quickly talk about the Houdini Snap-T Pullover Jacket. As you might have guessed, it follows the iconic design of the Snap-T fleece, but replaces the microfleece material with the Houdini Jacket’s lightweight ripstop, coated with a DWR finish for good measure.

It functions as an ideal midlayer on wet and windy days, or as a top layer in fairer or drier conditions. The advantage that this has over the classic Snap-T fleece is that it packs down into a tiny bundle – one that quite literally fits in your pocket.

Patagonia Houdini Snap-T Pullover Jacket at Urban Industry

Well worth a look – we have it in ‘Classic Tan’ (with green shoulders and sleeves) and ‘Forge Grey’ (with black shoulders and sleeves).

The Ultralight Black Hole Mini Hip Pack

It’s not just the big and flashy items that get the recycled treatment. This immensely popular and slimline bum-bag is also made completely from recycled nylon, half of which comes from postconsumer waste!

Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Mini Bag at Urban Industry

Ideal for stowing your everyday carry when running, hiking, exploring on holiday, wandering round festivals – basically anything.

Available in ‘Roamer Red’, ‘Ink Black’ (which is mostly khaki and blue, actually) and classic Black if you want to just keep it simple.

The Black Hole Waist Pack

If you need a bit more space in your on-the-go bum-bag, the 5L Black Hole Waist Pack is what you want to go for. Again, all components are made from recycled polyester, and it has a TPU-film laminate coating to make it weather-resistant. Ideal for brisk hikes or rainy days in the city or anything in between.

Patagonia Black Hole Waist Pack at Urban Industry

Browse our entire SS20 Patagonia collection

Pretty much everything Patagonia makes is eco-friendly. Even the products that aren’t constructed from recycled materials are made as responsibly as possible – with all cotton being organic and ethically-sourced. And you’ll also find that most items are Fair Trade sewn, bluesign-approved and so on. Not to mention durable.

Go on, treat yourself with something from the SS20 Patagonia collection

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