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Fashion Goes Green

Learn how these designers are making Earth-friendly clothes

Loading up your shopping cart with trendy clothes may seem tempting. But did you know that the clothing industry is the second-most-polluting industry on the planet? (The oil industry is the first.) It’s also the second-largest water polluter, after agriculture. But many people are now working to make the fashion industry more eco-friendly. Read on to find out how.

Loading up your shopping cart with trendy clothes may seem tempting. But did you know that the clothing industry is a big polluter? It's the second-most polluting industry on the planet (The oil industry is the first.) It's also the second-largest water polluter, after agriculture. But many people are now working to make the fashion industry more eco-friendly. Read on to find out how.

1. Clothes From Cow Poop

What do you do with millions of pounds of cow poop? Dutch scientist Jalila Essaïdi turns it into cloth. Called Mestic, her fabric reduces the amount of harmful greenhouse gases released by cow manure as it sits in pastures. Removing the manure also prevents soil and water pollution. The best part? Mestic is biodegradable. That means that if it ends up in a landfill, the fabric will break down naturally without harming the environment.

What do you do with millions of pounds of cow poop? Dutch scientist Jalila Essaïdi turns it into cloth. It's called Mestic. Her fabric reduces the amount of harmful greenhouse gases released by cow manure. This happens when manure sits in pastures. Removing the manure also prevents soil and water pollution. The best part? Mestic is biodegradable. That means that if it ends up in a landfill, the fabric will break down naturally without harming the environment.    

2. Sea Trash Sneakers

You throw a plastic bottle in the trash, but that’s not where its journey ends. More than 8 million tons of plastic trash end up in the ocean each year. This garbage can cause trouble for wildlife. Animals can get caught in it or choke on small pieces. Plastics also break down and release toxic chemicals into the water. Adidas partnered with a nonprofit called Parley for the Oceans to reduce plastic waste in the oceans—by turning it into sneakers! Shoes called UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley are made from 95 percent recycled plastic waste pulled from polluted ocean waters.

You throw a plastic bottle in the trash. But that's not where its journey ends. More than 8 million tons of plastic trash end up in the ocean each year. This garbage can cause trouble for wildlife. Animals can get caught in it. Or they choke on small pieces. Plastics also break down and release toxic chemicals into the water. Adidas partnered with a nonprofit called Parley for the Oceans to reduce plastic waste in the oceans. They turned the plastic into sneakers! Shoes called UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley are made from 95 percent recycled plastic waste. The material is pulled from polluted ocean waters.

3. Old New Clothes

Tired of that old shirt? Pants have a hole in the leg? If you bring in your old clothes to any H&M store, the company uses them to make new ones! “We don’t want old garments to end up in a landfill,” says Erik Bang of the H&M Foundation. The foundation is the company’s nonprofit organization behind the program. More than 95 percent of clothes in landfills could have been reworn or recycled. Since 2013, the company has collected more than 150 million T-shirts’ worth of fabric for recycling. “We no longer need to solely rely on raw materials to dress a growing world population,” says Bang.

Tired of that old shirt? Pants have a hole in the leg? Then bring in your old clothes to any H&M store. The company uses them to make new clothes! "We don't want old garments to end up in a landfill," says Erik Bang. He works at the H&M Foundation. The foundation is the company's nonprofit organization behind the program. More than 95 percent of clothes in landfills could have been reworn or recycled. Since 2013, the company has collected more than 150 million t-shirts' worth of fabric for recycling. "We no longer need to solely rely on raw materials to dress a growing world population," says Bang.

4. Do-Good Denim

Since 1976, Habitat for Humanity has built more than 9.8 million homes around the world. Now it has partnered with Blue Jeans Go Green to use insulation made from recycled denim. The insulation helps cut down on home energy use by keeping houses cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Stores like Madewell and Saks Fifth Avenue collect old jeans from customers and send them out for recycling. Blue Jeans Go Green has turned more than a million pairs of jeans into insulation in the past 10 years.

Since 1976, Habitat for Humanity has built more than 9.8 million homes around the world. Now it has partnered with Blue Jeans Go Green. Together, they use insulation made from recycled denim. The insulation helps cut down on home energy use. That's because it keeps houses cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Stores like Madewell and Saks Fifth Avenue collect old jeans from customers. Then they send them out for recycling. Blue Jeans Go Green has turned more than a million pairs of jeans into insulation in the past 10 years.

A shirt is made of a blend of 4/6 Mestic and 2/6 cotton.

Is more of the shirt cotton or Mestic? Justify your reasoning with a model.

A shirt is made of a blend of 4/6 Mestic and 2/6 cotton.

Is more of the shirt cotton or Mestic? Justify your reasoning with a model.

Before Adidas finalized the design for the UltraBOOST, it tried several different options. Design A was made with 4/8 recycled materials, and design B was made with 4/6 recycled materials.

Which design used more recycled material? Justify your reasoning with a model.

Before Adidas finalized the design for the UltraBOOST, it tried several different options. Design A was made with 4/8 recycled materials, and design B was made with 4/6 recycled materials.

Which design used more recycled material? Justify your reasoning with a model.

A designer measures 1/6 yard of recycled cotton for the sleeves of a shirt he is making. He uses  yard of recycled denim to make the collar of the shirt.

Which recycled material is used more in the shirt? Justify your reasoning with a model.

A designer measures 1/6 yard of recycled cotton for the sleeves of a shirt he is making. He uses  yard of recycled denim to make the collar of the shirt.

Which recycled material is used more in the shirt? Justify your reasoning with a model.

In Blue Jeans Go Green housing insulation, 3/4 of the insulation is made from recycled denim and 1/4 is made from fiberglass.

Is the insulation made more of denim or fiberglass? Justify your reasoning with a model.

In Blue Jeans Go Green housing insulation, 3/4 of the insulation is made from recycled denim and 1/4 is made from fiberglass.

Is the insulation made more of denim or fiberglass? Justify your reasoning with a model.

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