This Popular Clothing Brand Is Switching Over To Recycled Plastics. Here's What It Means For Your Closet

Image by Everlane

Since its founding in 2010, Everlane has become a cult-favorite brand among eco-conscious consumers—praised for its commitment to transparency. And today, the company pledged to take its green philosophy one step further by rethinking its plastic use.

By 2021, Everlane will eliminate new or "virgin" plastic across its entire operation. In practice, this means that instead of creating new polyester clothes, they'll make fabrics out of recycled plastic bottles. They'll also repurpose the plastic bags that come into their factories from various suppliers in an attempt to work toward a more closed-loop operation.

The pledge makes sense, and we bet you'll notice other brands starting to make similar ones. That's because plastic is becoming public enemy No. 1 as we learn more about the prevalence of plastic debris and microplastics—the tiny particles that spread as plastic breaks down—in our environment (they've recently been found in the deepest depths of our oceans and high in the sky).

But while refusing to create new plastic-derived fabrics is certainly a step in the right direction, it's not the end goal.

"Everything is relative," Marci Zaroff, eco-fashion expert and author of ECOrenaissance: A Lifestyle Guide for Co-creating a Stylish, Sexy, and Sustainable World, explains. "Yes, [recycled polyester] is better than virgin polyester, as it uses plastic bottles from landfills. But the bigger issue today is the proliferation of microfibers in our waterways and oceans, due to the use of polyester and other synthetics—regardless of whether they are virgin or recycled."

"It's important to remember that recycling is not the best option when we are approaching sustainability—the best option is to reduce or eliminate our consumption of things altogether," adds Sara Weinreb, the sustainability blogger behind IMBY. "We are churning out clothes at a rate that is damaging to the environment and unsafe for the workers involved and also leads to a 'fast fashion' mentality where many consumers no longer see the value in investing in well-made, high-quality clothing, in favor of cheap options."

To adopt this fewer-but-better philosophy, only go shopping for items you actually need and will use, and consider opting for natural materials—cotton, hemp, and linen, for example—when you can. Bonus if they have been grown using regenerative practices that are less resource- and chemical-intensive. Everlane is one mainstream brand starting to champion such practices, as is Reformation, Amour Vert, H&M's Conscious Collection, and Levi's.

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