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That’s right, we’re making great quality fleeces entirely out
of recycled plastic bottles!
A fleece is super soft.
But can the manufacturing process be softer for the environment?
This is what we have been trying to do since 2010 at Quechua, by designing fleeces from recycled plastic bottles.
Find out more about what you are wearing on your back...
Freeing hikers from itchy wool: that's what fleece has achieved. We owe it a thank-you just for that. Since 1979, the year it was invented, this textile technology has replaced wool in hikers' wardrobes. Wave bye-bye to the cold. No more jumpers that don't dry.
With fleece, mountain enthusiasts have adopted a fabric that ticks all the boxes. Except one: the fibre is made from plastic.
Here, in the battle opposing it to fleece, wool wins as it is the most environmentally friendly. What if fleece was used to recycle plastic waste instead of producing more? That would make it more virtuous, no? That was what we were thinking over ten years ago at Quechua. It has made its way...
First, let's go back to the start: why did fleece overtake wool?
Well, for its insulating qualities, and the thermal comfort it provides. Fleece keeps us warm, and that is mainly what we ask of it. You could answer that quality wool also keeps you warm. What is brilliant, with fleece, it that it keeps you warm while remaining light, allowing the body to breathe and dries quickly. Thanks to this fibre, perspiration no longer means irritation, and you can head off on an adventure without itching your wrists or pulling on your collar in the first miles. We wouldn't go as far as saying that where there is wool there is no pleasure, but the key criteria of comfort has made fleece so popular with hikers.
Now, let's talk about plastic.
Fleece is a component made from polyester. More exactly, polyethylene terephthalate, more often known by the acronym "PET".
We all know that the planet and PET - the component that is for good reason associated with plastic pollution - are not the best of friends.
In the Quechua Worldwide design Centre, we decided to change things and imagined a new kind of fleece.
"We thought that instead of banning polyester, a component indistinguishable from "fleece technology", we could do without new polyester. In 2010, we rose to the challenge and designed fleeces made from 100% recycled plastic bottles" explains Emmanuelle François, product manager of the first Quechua fleece made from recycled fibres.
Just as we hoped, the choice of recycled polyester significantly reduced the environmental impact of our fleeces.Our eco-designed models enabled us to reduce CO2 emissions by 15% on this product and energy consumption by 20%. Pollution-wise, our recycled polyester fleeces enable us to give millions of plastic bottles a second life every years.
These numbers increased our motivation to do more to reduce our impact. Fleeces in recycled plastic marked the start of a major adventure for Quechua: that of: eco-design, which is now central to all our thinking and the way most of our products are manufactured.
Moreover, contrary to popular belief, eco-design and aesthetics can go hand in hand! Yes, recycling plastic waste not only transforms single-use products into sustainable products, it can also lead to the creation of hiking clothing that has style.
Style is an important criteria, when we know how fleece has become a wardrobe essential these past few years. Often only worn for hiking, it is now an everyday piece, that you put on at home, when you need that comfort. Some have even called it "trendy". Who would have thought it at first, when it was only worn by peak backpackers? So at Quechua, we pay attention to design and colour, so that our eco-designed fleeces are popular with all styles and enable you to have fun with fashion. In the mountains and in your living room.
Ah, and speaking of colour, we also think of eco-design when dyeing textiles.
At Quechua we use an environmentally-responsible technique known as dope-dyeing. Each yarn thread is pigmented when it is manufactured. Why is it better for the planet? Because this dyeing process uses less water than the dye usually used in industry. It also emits less waste water.
Recycling plastics, reducing waste, combating over-use of resources... Small steps, but all hikers know how small steps can take you far! With the recycled polyester fleece, we are delighted to have led our brand on a passionate journey that began in 2010: where eco-design and sustainability come together.