You may not immediately recognize the brand Anvil (no they don't supply Wile E. Coyote), although if you check the tags on your t shirts chances are good that you own several, most likely emblazoned with designs by another party. That's because Anvil Knitwear is one of the biggest makers of t shirts. So there's big potential for scale when it comes to going greener.
The new AnvilSustainable tee is made from recycled PET plastic bottles and transitional cotton, which has been grown on farms that are in the process of becoming certified organic. "The AnvilSustainable tee was designed to support two important environmental initiatives: the recycling of plastic bottles and the conversion of acreage from conventional cotton farming to organic cotton farming," the company's CEO, Anthony Corsano, said in a statement. "Each AnvilSustainable tee uses approximately three 20-ounce recycled PET plastic bottles, and the cotton comes from [American] farms that are in the three-year process of transitioning to organic. Buying a shirt made with cotton in conversion is a great way to support farmers making the switch, and encourage more to do the same."
Anvil Knitwear is now the largest domestic purchaser of U.S.-grown certified organic cotton and was ranked by the Organic Exchange as the sixth-largest purchaser of organic cotton worldwide in 2008. (Much of Anvil's clothes are made in Honduras, but the company is headquartered in New York.)
So how do the shirts feel? The organic cotton is soft and high quality. The recycled plastic fiber shirt actually reminds me a bit of a hemp t-shirt I got from Tahoe Hemp Company a few years back. It is a bit coarser than cotton, but it still wears well. Since the recycled plastic is actually a polyester, it is less wrinkle prone than cotton, which is definitely a bonus. It does seems like it might be a bit more durable, though I've only worn it a couple of times so far. If my hemp tee is any indication, the recycled fabric will also become softer over time.
It takes about three plastic bottles to make one of the shirts. The material comes from U.S. recyclers. The company has also been working to green up other parts of it's business, including reducing the amount of fuel it uses by a million gallons and slashing water use by 50,000 gallons a day.
In all Anvil offers 15 environmentally friendly t-shirts, fleeces and bags, including the AnvilOrganic line made with 100% organic cotton, the AnvilRecycled tee made from 69% pre-consumer recycled cotton, and the certified (by Carbonfund.org) CarbonFree recycled cotton t-shirt. Buy here.
Hopefully these green offerings will sell, and help motivate the company to do even more.
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