Look around any popular hiking trail these days and you guaranteed to see at least 1 of these 3 problems:
1. Improperly disposed of dog waste
2. Discarded plastic water bottles
3. You won't see this author there because I'm stuck in the office writing this.
Well, as potentially hilarious as misplaced poop can be, this is a story about how scientists helped to revolutionize the outdoor clothing world by recycling trash into fashion.
Not long after the popularization of the plastic water bottle, hikers and climbers started finding empty, discarded bottles on their beloved trails. This led to seemingly every responsible hiker's collective childhood flashback of mom standing over a broken vase in the dining room shouting "THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS!"
"This is why we can't have nice things."
(Sidebar: if you are still using plastic water bottles, you should really consider making the switch to a quality bottle. Perhaps from this collection HERE) Something needed to be done to curb the plastic litter. But we'll get back to that in a second...
In 1985 (ish), scientists figured out how to create this fleece fabric that we all enjoy so much by adding a few steps to a polyester fabric. Polyester, of course, had been established years prior and many crimes of fashion had been committed by that point. (See below)
Exhibit A: Polyester Crimes of Fashion
The difference was taking this tightly-knit polyester fabric and brushing it to artfully rip and agitate the material. This puffs up the fabric 5 times thicker than normal, creating air pockets for insulation, but adding no weight. This makes it perfect for layering on cold days.
The real revelation came from a development of recycling these plastic water bottles. The discarded plastic bottles could then be recycled into the fleece fabric. This reduced the amount of water, oil, and time required to create the material. It also solved 2 problems at once: finding another purpose for the litter and making a superior jacket to wear on the hike.
Your standard recycled plastic visual aid.
And, if you don't have any sort of fleece item by now, you should know that it is water, rash, and fire resistant.
The North Face Veranda Full Zip Fleece Jacket
The North Face Osito 2 Full Zip Fleece Jacket
Fun Fact: "Osito" is Spanish for "Teddy Bear"
Luckily, no wild teddy bears were harmed in the making of this fleece.