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Patagonia Now Lets Customers Buy And Trade In Gently Used Gear

By Tessa Love

As a company that promotes engagement with the beautiful outdoors, Patagonia knows how to practice what it preaches. The outdoor gear and clothing supplier has long supported environmental initiatives, from sourcing wool from farmers with the highest animal welfare and eco-conscious standards, to using 100 percent USA-grown organic cotton, to eradicating synthetic microfiber pollution. Now its latest initiative is working to close another vast waste stream: the disposal of used clothing.

Each year, Americans throw away 13 million tons of textiles — about 85 percent of their clothes — accounting for 9 percent of total non-recycled waste. That breaks down to about 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per person per year, a figure that is rapidly growing. This, of course, is the detritus of fast fashion, the production of which is the second dirtiest industry in the world after big oil, not counting the wasted clothing that following in the footsteps of the production. 

One way to combat this, of course, is to produce clothing in more environmentally friendly ways, which Patagonia is already doing. Another solution is to recycle the clothing that would otherwise enter the waste stream. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that, in terms of carbon emissions, the amount of clothing already recycled each year is equivalent to taking one million cars off the road.