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This week, COS is launching their new Repurposed Cotton Project, reminding us of the importance of using what’s already here (can we say these words too often?). Here’s how they make loss into gain, taking one step closer to closing that loop.

Why, and we ask this feeling slightly frustrated, does not every single brand and clothing producer in the fashion industry (and beyond) ask themselves this question: “What if we could recycle our own excess fabric into a new design?”. Some brilliant person over at COS did (we expect they have a Sustainability Team dedicated to these matters, being part of the H&M Group and all), and the difference that would make is definitely significant.

Executing this idea through the Repurposed Cotton Project has meant that one and a half tons of 100% cotton off-cuttings produced at one of their Turkish suppliers could be saved over the course of a year. This cotton waste has then been shredded, compacted, combed, spun, weaved, dyed and constructed into a new clothing style made from 100% cotton. The clean-cut sweatshirt (shown above) is made in women’s, men’s and children’s sizes, and comes in a pale yellow/beige pallet. Need some new family teamwear Emma?

We’re happy that leading fashion brands are finally starting to realize this possibility, as it’s truly worrying that huge—gigantic, really—amounts of textile is lost at the end of production yearly. As this waste is “normally” not repurposed, we assume the general cause of action would be to burn it or send it off to landfills, which means resources lost forever. In better cases, it might be recycled into new textile fibers that are used for things like insulation, but we suspect that’s far from standard. 

One reason why textile waste isn’t being repurposed on the regular may be the difficulties in recycling mixed textile fibers on a large-scale basis, however pure cotton and polyester offer less of a challenge at this point. So we’re thinking that if one and a half tons of textile waste is generated in one year, solely from cotton fabrics produced for one brand by one producer, there is a lot of repurposing potential here, and a lot of textile fibers to be rescued. Thank you COS for showing us that it’s possible. 


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