Arc’teryx, the popular high-end Canadian outdoors apparel producer recently announced a bold vision for the future sustainability of the company. While several leading outdoors clothing companies are exploring programs to recycle and resell “lightly used gear” (unfortunately, none of my gear falls into this category), Arc’teryx is pushing the game a bit further by incorporating ‘upcycling’ operations in a bid to hold the ethical edge in the dynamic apparel industry.
Upcycling is the practice of taking old, worn, or more than lightly used equipment (ahh, finally some hope for me) and reprocessing the salvageable material into something else useful. Gore Tex (ePTFE expanded polytetrafluoroethylene, copyright) is the magical, non-toxic, waterproof, breathable, lightweight, bomber material behind most of the amazing Arc’teryx gear and it’s not cheap. With our ‘fresh obsessed’ culture, every time a piece of gear gets a small tear or stain, it’s out the door. Meaning that tons of expensive and perfectly usable material takes a ‘linear route’ from producer, to manufacturer, to consumer, to landfill.
The Rebird Initiative seeks to emphasize the practical steps that apparel manufacturers can take now to stem the linear flow of material to the landfill by offering re-manufacturing options for damaged, worn, and unwanted gear. Arc’teryx currently offers several jackets and bags produced from such practices. Hopefully the trend catches and we can look forward to more steezy Frankenstein patchwork jackets on the slopes in the future.