Article from California Apparel News | Published on Thursday, April 19, 2018 by Dorothy Crouch
Long known as an outdoor brand whose apparel shields its customers from the elements as its corporate mission protects the environment from threats, Alameda, Calif.–based The North Face encourages customers to lead active lifestyles and take action to protect nature. The company’s most recent venture, called the “Bottle Source” initiative, is no different. In observance of Earth Day on April 22, The North Face partnered with the National Park Foundation and released a new clothing line composed of yarn made from recycled plastic sourced from water bottles found at the Grand Teton, Great Smoky Mountains and Yosemite national parks.
“Reducing the amount of waste in parks, increasing the amount of recycling in parks, and creating more awareness about the parks and how to be a responsible visitor to the parks,” said James Rogers, director of sustainability for The North Face, when asked about the company’s goals for the project.
Released on April 17, the collection’s T-shirts and tote bag feature messages such as “Never Stop Exploring” and “John Muir Is My Homeboy,” which are intended to inspire outdoor adventures. Other designs simply feature the brand’s logo, along with flowers, including one design that brings California’s state flower—the poppy—center stage.
“We wanted to have fun with useful graphics that tie back to the parks,” Rogers said.
The North Face is putting its money where its activism is by donating $1 from the sale of each piece to the National Park Foundation. Despite its existing pledge to contribute a minimum of $100,000 to the cause, The North Face hopes to generate a much larger amount.
Through these contributions, the National Park Foundation will be able to continue its efforts promoting sustainability, such as the installation of water-bottle refill stations and bear-proof recycling bins. While the monetary contributions will support sustainability efforts in the parks, transforming plastic bottles into a new, long-lasting product reduces the amount of refuse that would otherwise contribute to polluting the environment.
“From an environmental perspective, we are extending the life of these materials,” explained Rogers. “Single-use plastic bottles, when they get to the end consumer, last a matter of minutes. The T-shirt comes with a lifetime warranty, so it will definitely be used longer.”
By participating in this project, The North Face has already collected 160,000 pounds of plastic waste from park MRFs (materials recycling facilities) for reuse in the program. Once the bottles were collected, The North Face used the services of North Carolina–based textile supplier Unifi Manufacturing Inc. As a vertically integrated producer of multifilament polyester, the company was able to clean the bottles before fully breaking down the pieces, extruding the material and creating the yarn. Once the materials were ready, the line was manufactured in Central America.
With the launch of the first season underway, The North Face will continue its support of the National Park Foundation through other projects and is going to release a Fall 2018 collection for the Bottle Source initiative.
“We’ve been partners with the National Park Foundation. Our relationship predates this specific program,” explained Rogers. “I think everyone was pretty excited about this idea to highlight our relationship with the park and spark investment in these sustainability projects.”
The current collection includes short-sleeved T-shirts that retail at $35 and tote bags priced at $40; next season the company will add long-sleeved T-shirts and hooded sweatshirts using new designs and graphics. The company intends to keep its short-sleeved T-shirts for Fall, but the tote bags were planned only for the current collection.
In addition to availability at www.thenorthface.com and at its retail locations in the United States, the line will also be sold through some of the concessions areas within the partner parks.