Humans need to drink roughly two liters of water per day to stay healthy, but it is hardly salutary for the planet when we drink that prescribed amount out of plastic bottles, then discard them all willy-nilly. Fortunately, the small Seattle-based clothier Rethink Fabrics has found a way to turn at least a few of the 2.5 million plastic bottles Americans discard per hour into comfortable, durables tees.
Using a process known as rPET (recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate), Rethink has already diverted 5 million plastic bottles from landfills and turned them into stunningly soft polyester. Each shirt has a "bottle count" on it that shows how many bottles went into creating your garment – generally 12 to 16 – and if you have some bottles that need recycling, you can join a program where your waste will be collected, weighed, and recycled into your next tee.
The rPET process isn't just about discarded bottles: The process reduces waste from traditional fabric manufacturing and requires only a third of the energy necessary to produce organic cotton. The shirts are certifiable through a tracer on the label and you can determine how green your purchase is via the "Rethink Index," which charts carbon offsets and sends out a personalized end-of-year environment impact statement.
All that environmental-friendliness and jargon would be for naught if the shirts themselves weren't remarkable. They are. Rethink's black T-shirt is now the most comfortable tee in our regular rotation and it's holding up well despite the near constant use. More than just comfy, the shirt is anti-microbial, meaning it helps eliminate both harmful bacterial and body odor.
And, when a Rethink tee has seen the end of its days, it, too, can be recycled. Just return it to Rethink, where it will get shredded, spun into woven fiber, and turned into another great shirt. [From $24; Rethinkfabrics.com]