How Does Fabric Recycling Work?

How Does Fabric Recycling Work?

by Griffin Vanze, Founder of AEON ROW

Recycled fabric is rapidly gaining attention in ecofashion, and it’s no surprise why: it has a small environmental footprint, it keeps clothing waste out of landfills, and most importantly, it performs well.

Yet for all of the excitement, the fabric recycling process is still relatively unknown, which is why I’d like to share with you step-by-step how the 100% recycled poly-cotton fabric we use in our looks comes to be, and why it matters for ecofashion.


How It’s Done

Recycled cotton comes from two sources: fabric scrap from clothing production (called pre-consumer recycled cotton) and old clothing that has been donated (called post-consumer recycled cotton). These items are collected and delivered to fabric recyclers.

Why It Matters

Because both sources come from existing materials, there’s no need to produce virgin materials. The benefit is that they require no water, agro-chemicals, or land use (and even reduce land use by preventing them from going to landfills). By contrast, to produce one virgin cotton t-shirt requires 700 gallons of water and 1/3 pound of pesticides and herbicides.


How It’s Done

To ensure consistent coloring, the cotton fabrics are sorted by color and fed into machines that break them down into a material similar to raw cotton. Since the cotton scraps and clothing have already been dyed by the original fabric manufacturer, there’s no need to dye them again.

Why it Matters

This process saves water and prevents the use of chemical dyes and treatments for fabric dying, which contribute an estimated 17-20% of all industrial water pollution. That means less chemicals getting into our waterways.



How It’s Done

From here the broken-down cotton is blended with recycled polyester (sourced from items like soda bottles) and spun into yarn. The recycled cotton content can range from 50% of the yarn all the way up to 90% of the yarn – the thicker the yarn, the higher the percentage of recycled cotton it contains. Once spun, the yarn is then rolled onto big spools.

Why It Matters

With global plastic production continuing to rise and plastic recycling lagging behind this increase, the world needs new ways to keep plastic from becoming pollution. Fabric is a smart way to achieve this outcome in style.


How It’s Done

Finally, the spools are strapped into looms and knit into rolls of fabric 80 yards long. The fabric is then used for clothing production, successfully completing the fabric recycling process to become new clothing.

Why It Matters

There’s nothing different in this process from other knit fabrics, but knitting is super cool. Just take a look at this knitting loom at work.

There you have it – fabric recycling from start to finish.

At AEON ROW, we’re so convinced of its superiority that we use revived fabrics exclusively in our looks.

Next time you’re about to throw away your worn-out t-shirt, remember that it doesn’t have to become waste! Recycle it. Better yet, recycle it with AEON ROW and we’ll even reward you for it.

About: Griffin Vanze is the Founder and CEO of AEON ROW, a sustainable fashion brand for women that offers effortless, cool looks, made from recycled fabrics, at affordable prices. A former nonprofit professional working to prevent ocean trash, he is continually debunking the myth that there is an island of garbage twice the size of Texas in the Pacific Ocean (it’s more like a soup of trash). Follow AEON ROW’s feed on Instagram: @aeonrow


I hope you enjoyed this informative post by my VIP Guest Blogger, Griffin Vanze, who's been so generous to offer an exclusive discount on AEON ROW's clothes. If you find something you like, be sure to use “KONSCIOUS15” for an extra 15% off of your purchase : )

All fabric recycling photos published with permission from Recovertex