Sustainability

Pile of old fleeceWhat is the ReFleece material?

ReFleece is a new kind of felt.  The felted, charcoal grey layer comes from recycled PET fiber (e.g. old plastic bottles, and sometimes carpet fibers).  The inner colored layer comes directly from a recovered garment or scrap, collected by one of our Partner Brands.   We clean the jackets and scraps, then cut them up into squares roughly the size of a case.  The two layers are then put on top of each other and pressed together into the molds we have designed, using an innovative, low-energy manufacturing process.

 

Is that my old jacket in there?Foursquare tray from Retro X Jacket

It could be!  Much of our material comes from recovered garments, collected through Patagonia's Common Threads Program.  Other textiles come to us from the cutting room floor (Woolrich, Polartec), or from bits and ends of fabric that could not be used for one reason or another (Ibex).  The common denominator is that these beautiful textiles would otherwise have to be downcycled -- meaning shredded or melted, or even thrown away.  With ReFleece up cycling, your fleece is neither re-shredded nor re-melted nor shipped across the ocean to be reprocessed.  We just clean, cut and press it into the case.  
 

Is ReFleece made in the U.S?

Yes!  Each piece is manufactured, sewn and packaged in the U.S.  We encourage you to take it overseas with you on your next trip so it can see the world.

 

What is the environmental footprint of a ReFleece case?

Great question!  Calculating the exact carbon, water, and overall environmental footprint is a complicated art, and we don't pretend to have the answer, but we are committed to making choices that reduce that footprint as much as possible.  Here's what we do to reduce our footprint:
First, a ReFleece product is almost all recycled/upcycled content--depending on the case in question, only thread for sewing, some colors of elastic, and/or the snap are from virgin material.  And we're working on those.
Second, we do not re-dye our material.  We use the original colors of the textiles we are upcycling.  This means that no new dyes are added to our waterways to make our products.
Third, our manufacturing process is relatively low energy.  Typical recycling practices for polyester, for example, require completely melting the plastic twice (first to make it back in to small pellets used in manufacturing, and second to remelt those pellets to spin fiber or mold a plastic part).  This requires heating the plastic to 540F, twice.  We only need to heat our material to 300F, and we only do it once.  
Finally, we try to reduce the distances our materials travel during manufacturing.  Our materials are sourced domestically when possible (currently all but snaps and labels are made in the U.S.).  We cut, press, and sew our cases in the same location, here in the U.S.   All shipping for the production of ReFleece is domestic, because nothing has to be melted down or re-processed overseas. 
 

Can I recycle my ReFleece?

You can recycle the "Classic" and "Wild Side" pieces in your home bins, as long as your municipality can handle PET plastics (most can).  However, not all municipalities know what to do with the material, so another safe bet is to re-use the material (post your ideas to www.facebook.com/ReFleece), return them to Common Threads boxes in Patagonia stores, or send them right back to us.  Woolen cases are a blend of natural and synthetic fiber (the gray felt is recycled PET) so these are not easily recyclable as yet.   They are designed to last, but if the product's useful life is over, we hope you'll find a new use and let others know at facebook.com/refleece.

 

Do you donate to Environmental Causes?

Yes.  ReFleece is a proud member of 1% for the Planet, which guarantees that members give at least 1% of sales revenue (as opposed to profits -- a worthwhile difference!) to nonprofits with a sustainability mission.  In 2012, we supported the Plastics Pollution Coalition, 350.org, and The Nature Conservancy.