Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
DENVER, Colo. (April 14, 2021) – Smartwool, makers of Merino wool apparel for active living, today announced a strategic goal of making all products circular by 2030. The Smartwool Second Cut Project is designed to give products a “second cut” at life and will help create a more circular supply chain that extends the life of raw materials, presents a new sourcing stream, and reduces environmental impact. The project represents a significant pillar of the brand’s newly defined 10-year social impact goals and will be launching with an Earth Day timed sock take back event.
Although awareness around the importance of apparel circularity is growing with consumers, socks are one of the most thrown-away pieces of apparel—This may in part be due to a lack of understanding—a recent Smartwool survey1 uncovered that while over 80% of respondents recycle their used clothing, they don’t engage the same way when it comes to socks as 46% are unaware of how to recycle them, resulting in 91% throwing away more than 1 pair of socks per year. This contributes to the larger circularity problem with textiles as a whole, which contributes about 11.3 tons of waste to landfills each year2. Given there is a gap in recycling textile articles like socks, and more than 97% of consumers1 are interested in recycling them, Smartwool developed a way to move the needle towards a more circular economy, starting with socks.
“Through our research, we realized that consumers want to be more sustainable and recycle their socks, but don’t currently have the resources to be a part of the solution,” said Alicia Chin, senior manager sustainability and social impact at Smartwool. “We are deeply invested in providing consumers with simple recycling solutions that make a difference towards a happier, healthier planet. While our goal is to reach total circularity across our product portfolio, there is obviously an urgent need for a recycling solution in the sock category, which is where we’re focusing our initial efforts.”
Smartwool is partnering with Material Return, a platform for custom circularity, on the Second Cut Project sock take back event. Starting on April 21st, Smartwool will collect used socks from any brand at specialty retailers nationwide and online. These initial donations will be re-purposed into a filling for dog beds, which will be available for purchase at Smartwool.com during the 2021 holiday season.
“We’re excited to work with a brand like Smartwool that exemplifies the same environmental values as we do,” said Molly Hemstreet, Co-Executive Director at Material Return. “We also want to thank all our manufacturing partners who helped make it possible—especially the Carolina Textile District and Diamond Brand Gear. Through the Smartwool Second Cut Project sock take back event, we’re giving consumers an opportunity to support both environmental sustainability and innovative labor practices.”
Consumers can get involved in the Smartwool Second Cut Project sock take back event in two ways:
- Consumers can drop off their unwanted (but clean) socks in marked bins at participating retailers from April 21st through May 2nd. For a list of participating retailers, visit www.smartwool.com/what-matters.html#/smartwool/the-second-cut-project
- From April 21st and beyond, when making any purchase at Smartwool.com customers can opt in at checkout to receive a pre-paid postage bag to send in any socks they wish to recycle.
To learn more about Smartwool’s 10-year roadmap towards becoming climate positive through regenerative materials and circularity and cultivating a true feeling of belonging in the outdoors, visit Smartwool’s What Matters Hub at https://www.smartwool.com/what-matters.html#/
2United States Environmental Protection Agency (2018)
Based in Denver, Colorado, Smartwool® is a sock and apparel brand whose products are designed to get the most out of the inherent benefits of Merino wool and to bring comfort, confidence, and community to a life lived outside. For information on the full range of Smartwool® products or to find a dealer near you, please visit www.Smartwool.com. Smartwool, a division of VF Outdoor, LLC, is a brand of VF Corporation.