A Harmless Project Featuring Girlfriend Collective

Welcome back to A Harmless Project everyone! This episode is about recycling in a big way. Plastic water bottles are a big problem, like a massive problem, but what can we do to help on a large scale? Well, I’ve got a great company for you to check out. Girlfriend Collective has saved 6,000,000 post-consumer plastic water bottles from landfills and that’s just the beginning.

The Girlfriend Collective fabric facility specializes in eco-friendly and high-quality textiles. Their fabric starts as recycled water bottles in Taiwan. Girlfriend Collective leggings are made from polyethylene terephthalate, or PET.

Turing bottles into leggings may seem like magic and it pretty much is exactly that. The bottles are sorted, cleaned, and chipped down, heated up and turned into thread, and then spun into yarn. That’s right, YARN.

Their water bottle processing facility has been certified by the government to resell plastic chips to manufacturers across Taiwan. That means that their facility is required to be accountable for exactly how much plastic comes in and goes out. Certification is important because in some places like China with loose certifications and accountability standards means companies can lie about where they get their plastic. It’s easier to buy new plastic water bottles and recycle them, than to collect and sort post-consumer bottles. Plus, recyclers can recycle brand new bottles as post consumer bottles for a higher price to brands that are trying to use recyclables in their products which is just plain wrong.

The bottles are steam washed to remove caps and labels. After the caps and labels are removed, the bottles are sorted by color. Girlfriend Collective uses only clear bottles, and colored bottles are sent to be used by other companies. Then, the bottles are shredded into tiny chips, washed again, and placed into transport bags to be move shipped to their manufacturing facility.

When their spinning mill receives the chips, they go straight into another wash and dry before being sent to a machine that heats up the plastic and processes it into long strands. From there, they are chipped into pellets, heated up again and turned into hair-like threads that get spun together into a soft yarn that is not dependent on virgin petroleum for processing.

Their leggings are super soft, and durable. I think I’ve worn mine at least once a week for like 6 months now and they feel just as good as the day I got them. They’re high waisted which I find very comfortable and they’ve got great stretch so I use them for my contortion classes all the time. Plus, the stitching details are really flattering. Basically, I love them.

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