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Wednesday, May 21, 2008 08:49 pm

Green outdoor clothing

Several companies provide eco-conscious outdoor threads

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ExOfficio’s Tofutech Tee wicks moisture, retains warmth, and resists wrinkles. It is made of a 100 percent soy-based, biodegradable fabric.
PHOTO COURTESY OF EXOFFICIO
Untitled Document Where can one find the best options for green-friendly outdoor clothing, as well as traditional items without the environmental guilt?
Outdoor gear and clothing manufacturers are slowly but surely beginning to work materials crafted from recycled, reused, or otherwise sustainable sources into their products. Synthetics such as polyester and nylon have been the “go to” materials for outdoor clothes because of their moisture-wicking, quick-drying, and warmth-retention properties, but they are fast being augmented, if not replaced outright, by new fabrics crafted from organic plant-based materials. For instance, soybeans are now finding their way into outdoor clothing. One example is ExOfficio’s Tofutech Tee, which wicks moisture, retains warmth, and resists wrinkles and is made of a 100 percent soy-based, biodegradable fabric. Another innovation is Cocona, from the Colorado-based company of the same name. It’s a fabric treatment derived from coconut husks discarded by the food industry that helps traditional fabrics wick moisture, control odor, and shield the wearer from UV rays. Some 40 clothing manufacturers, including GoLite, Marmot, Sierra Designs, and Royal Robbins, are incorporating Cocona into their 2008 product lines. Not to be outdone is Patagonia, a company many consider the granddaddy of eco-conscious outdoor gear. The California-based company now uses 100 percent organic cotton in all of its shirts, pants, outerwear, and underwear to avoid the pesticides used in the growing of conventional cotton. Patagonia also takes back its customers’ own discards, melting them down to use the raw materials in new jackets and sweaters. And last year the company launched a new line of footwear constructed with the use of organic cotton, recycled rubber soles, latex made from the milk of hevea trees, hemp, and laces made from vegetable waste. Another cutting-edge outdoor company is shoemaker Timberland. Its new Greenscapes line of sneakers is made with vegetable- (instead of chemical-) tanned leather and is hand-sewn instead of glued with the toxic adhesives normally found in footwear. The new line also sports recycled-polyester laces and outsoles made from recycled rubber. Timberland recently switched to packaging made from green-friendly and recycled materials, and it has launched a “Green Index” to reflect each product’s environmental footprint. The company is working with the Outdoor Industry Association to implement an industry-wide version of the index so consumers can compare the relative green-ness of competing products.
For more information: ExOfficio,
www.exofficio.com; Cocona Fabrics, www.coconafabrics.com; Patagonia, www.patagonia.com; Timberland, www.timberland.com.

Send questions to Earth Talk at P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881 or e-mail earthtalk@emagazine.com.
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