From plastic bottle to raincoat to plastic bottle again.
That's the life cycle one Nova Scotia fashion designer envisions for her line of children's outerwear made entirely from recycled plastic bottles.
Tabitha Osler's company, Faire Child, is set to manufacture waterproof raincoats, anoraks, rainpants, coveralls, backpacks and caps for children ages 3 to 10 made out of old polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles that are woven into a new polyester fabric.
When they get worn out, the idea is for customers to return the clothing to the company so that it can be recycled into a new product. Osler said she's offering people a 15 per cent discount on their next purchase as incentive to return the clothing.
"We have to actively recycle it," she told the CBC's Information Morning, "otherwise what's the point in having a recyclable coat out there if it's just going to … end up in a landfill?"
'Positive impact through fashion'
The city of Halifax does not currently offer curbside recycling for textiles. As a result, textiles make up 8.6 per cent of the waste sent to the Otter Lake landfill, at a cost of $475,000 each year.
Other cities in Canada are making some headway, including the Municipality of Colchester, N.S., which began curbside collection for clean and dry textiles in April 2016.
The idea behind Faire Child is to have a "positive impact" on the planet "through fashion," said Osler, who has spent the last 10 years studying and teaching fashion design with a focus on environmental and social responsibility.
Only available online
Osler is asking customers to pre-purchase the garments online. There is no bricks-and-mortar store, she said, because the cost of the recycled fabric is "at least twice the price" of what her competitors are using, and she wanted to keep her other costs low.
Once the orders are in, Osler said she plans to start producing the clothing at Climate Technical Gear in Burnside in January 2018, with the goal to ship in February.
Prices range from $168 for the coverall to $38 for the cap — taxes and shipping not included.
Polyester has changed since the '70s
The polyester material — which is manufactured at a factory in Hong Kong and distributed by a German company called Sympatex Technologies — is breathable, she said, despite its origins as a plastic bottle.
Think less 1970s leisure suit and more "luxury sportswear," Osler said.
There have been "great advancements" in polyester technology, she added. "Contrary to normal polyesters which make you sweat," she said, this material "actually wicks moisture away from your body."
Osler said her ultimate goal is to ensure that all of the energy used to manufacture the fabric and create the garments eventually comes from 100 per cent renewable resources.