Eco-friendly products aren’t just about the environment: they can also save you money
Environmental practice is growing within the outdoor industry. But there is another side of sustainability less spoken about: the durability - the lifespan - of a product.
We’ve compiled a list containing seven of the current ways brands and manufacturers are not only working to reduce their environmental impact but are also creating more durable, longer-lasting, eco-friendly alternatives that can help reduce your impact and also, in the long run, save you money. Some simply use recycled or upcycled materials, but whether it’s permanent water-resistance, natural odour-prevention, or natural alternatives to synthetic performance materials, these innovations show that being eco-friendly is about much more than just being green.
You can also find the full list of eco products in our shop by clicking here.
• Nikwax: PFC-Free Treatments
• Schoeller Textiles: Bio-Engineered Fabrics
• Polygiene Permanent Odour Control
• Polartec: Upcycled Fabrics
• PrimaLoft Eco
• IceBreaker Merino Wool
• DriRelease: The "Eco-Friendly Solution"
PFCs (perflourocarbons) is the name given to the branch of chemicals that give durable water-repellent treatments their ability to bead off water, preventing waterproof garments from “wetting out”. This treatment is considered an essential element of hardshell jackets, but it has been the subject of much contention both inside and outside the outdoor industry because of the potential damage it can cause to ecosystems and human health.
Realising the threat and risk that PFCs pose, Nikwax use a water-repellent elastomer based on EVA (the material found in the sole of flexible shoes) that is completely environmentally safe, and it actually has distinct advantages over PFC-based treatments: Nikwax increases the tear-resistance of the material to which it is bonded, it bends and flexes to resist wear through folding and crumpling (like when stuffing it into backpacks), and it can survive multiple trips through the washing machine without the need to be reapplied. One such product is Nikwax Hydrophobic Down, which has the high breathability, compressibility, and warmth-to-weight ratio of bird down with the water-resistance of synthetic. (Nikwax posted a video of “the floating sleeping bag experiment”, where you can see the effect of their treatment in action.)
2. Schoeller® Textiles
Due to their effectiveness and ease of application, DWR treatments are now regularly applied to non-waterproof garments, like down jackets and softshells, to add an extra shield of protection against wet weather. However, these coatings can be delicate and brittle and will fade after exposure to dirt and dust, which means that they must be repeatedly reapplied in order to maintain their performance characteristics.
Schoeller® Textiles are specialists in producing bioengineered, eco-friendly fabrics. Products like their NanoSphere technology, a fabric which mimics the finely-structured surfaces of certain plants that have the innate ability to repel water, dirt, and oil, are permanently water-repellent. Their characteristics are embedded in the fabric’s fibres and not part of an external coating, which means they will not fade over time. That means less chemicals required and a lower maintenance cost over its lifespan.
3. Polygiene® Permanent Odour Control
Polygiene® uses silver salt, a natural mineral found in water and soil, to inhibit the growth of odour-causing bacteria and fungi on the surface of clothing. Not only does this help to prevent body odour, it keeps clothes feeling and smelling fresher for longer, so they can be worn and sweated in for multiple days whilst still feeling comfortable. Polygiene® say their environmental aim is to save the consumer time, money, and energy by reducing the amount of harsh wash cycles required to keep clothes clean. (Harsh wash cycles also damage the natural fibres of clothing, which is especially detriment for technical clothing.)
Polartec have been the market leaders in synthetic fleece fabrics since Patagonia’s Synchilla fleece in 1981, which Time Magazine called “one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century.” Now they are an industry leader in post-consumer recycling, recently announcing that they have succeeded in upcycling one billion plastic bottles (enough to fit around the Earth’s circumference five times over) with most of their fabrics containing at least 50% of this upcycled material or other recycled fabrics. (Polartec are only fabric suppliers and do not make any end products, so remember to read the label to find out the true content.)
5. PrimaLoft® Eco
PrimaLoft began its life with the U.S. Army’s R&D team, who needed an alternative to down that warm, breathable, and packable, yet didn’t lose its loft when exposed to moisture. Because of its ability to retain loft, PrimaLoft fibres have the potential to maintain 96% of warmth, even when soaking wet. Undoubtedly, this kind of technology is invaluable during expeditions, or even just for the regular guy, in an emergency situation.
PrimaLoft now offer each of their three levels of insulation in “Eco” options: Black contains 70% post-consumer recycled materials, Silver Eco contains 60%, and Gold Eco contains 55%. The Gold version still maintains the same impressive “96% of warmth when wet” accolade as the non-recycled Gold version.
Merino wool is the most breathable natural fibre available, as well as the best at moisture management. Taken from the merino sheep that have evolved to endure extremes of scorching summers and freezing winters in New Zealand's Southern Alps, Merino fibres and fabrics are soft and silky, inhibit smell-causing bacteria, and can absorb up to 30% of their dry weight before feeling wet. Most synthetics feel wet after they absorb less than 7%. Merino is also completely biodegradable, unlike plastic synthetic.
7. DriRelease® Performance Fabrics
Branding itself as an eco-friendly solution to performance apparel, DriRelease uses no chemical treatments in their moisture-wicking, fast-drying fabrics, and instead rely on smart engineering. The result is permanent properties that don't fade like other fabrics that only have these characteristics through chemical treatments. DriRelease say their products are of premium quality to resist pilling, wrinkling, static clinging, and losing their shape, with drying times that are up to four times faster than cotton. They also use a patented Freshguard® treatment that mitigates the growth of odour-causing bacteria.