An environmental movement the Outdoor industry has long since embraced is reducing the amount of disposable plastic bottles in landfills. One effort, encouraged by the reusable water bottle manufacturers, is to eliminate disposable plastic bottles altogether. Another is to recycle what has already been manufactured. Along these lines, North Carolina-based Indera Mills, has created ColdPruf ECO, a range of base layers for colder climate adventures using waste PET bottles. These PET bottles are reproduced into performance polyester staple fibers and spun into thermal crews and leggings.
What many fail to realize is that about 60% of the global production of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) is actually used to make synthetic fibers for textiles in the first place, only 30% for bottles. So it’s a natural fit to reconvert waste PET bottles into apparel. Companies like Patagonia have doing just that in the Outdoor Industry for close to 20 years.
There are a number of benefits to recycling PET bottles, as well. First, of course, is the argument of reducing landfill given the hundreds of years it takes for plastics to biodegrade. Second is limiting the use of new resources, particularly given PET is derived from elements of both refined oil and either hydrocarbons or natural gas. And lastly, It takes less energy to reconvert a waste PET bottle back into the original polymer for use as polyester fibers than making virgin polyester. Savings estimates range from 1/3 to roughly 1/2 the energy.
Indera Mills has been knitting underwear garments for nearly 100 years, focusing solely on winter weight products more recently. The company is now one of the largest suppliers in the US of thermal underwear products, both under the Indera Mills and private label brands. The design, knitting, cutting and distribution of products such as ColdPruf ECO base layers are still done in the US, with sewing handled in Mexico.
Indera Mills uses a rating system called Thermachoice to help you select the right garment for various weather conditions and activities. These range from Cold to Extreme, and Low Activity to High. ColdPruf ECO base layers are geared for low activity, with different designs for either Colder weather or Extreme Cold.
The ColdPruf ECO Pro-Tek line is a 100% recycled performance polyester in a waffle weave and is treated with an antimicrobial odor-blocking technology. The Eco-Terra version blends recycled performance polyester with 30% merino wool fibers in a single layer Raschel Knit that traps air for added warmth. Shop around for the best prices. You should be able to find Eco-Terra items for under $30 and Eco Pro-Tek for less than $25.
– Don Jurries