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ReCo x Citizen Wolf: Start a plastic-free wardrobe & laundry in Sydney

ReCo x Citizen Wolf Sydney - Plastic Free Wardrobe and Laundry

We’re excited to announce ReCo is collaborating with Sydney’s most ethical and sustainable fashion brand, Citizen Wolf to help you create a plastic-free wardrobe and laundry - without a hassle.

Here at ReCo, we are on a mission to help Sydney achieve a circular economy by eliminating wastes and reusing resources.

We believe collaboration with local sustainable businesses is the key to achieve this new economic system, that’s why we approached Citizen Wolf for this exciting collaboration.

Citizen Wolf is proudly made in Australia, with their beautiful shop and factory residing in the creative hub Precinct 75 in St Peters, NSW. Citizen Wolf is named the most sustainable and transparent apparel companies by Vogue Australia. 

Being sustainable has been baked right into Citizen Wolf's operating model from the very start. Plastic free at Citizen Wolf means:

  • Only naturally biodegradable fibres are used. No petro yarns.
  • Everything is made on demand locally at Citizen Wolf’s factory and store in St Peters, NSW. 
  • Nothing goes to the landfill. All offcuts are made into tote bags.
  • No plastic packaging is used in shipping.

How microplastics in our clothing end up in the ocean?

The microplastics in our wardrobe are filling up the oceans.

Globally, about 60% of the material that makes up our clothes worldwide is made from petroleum.

According to vox.com, it’s possible that a single load of laundry could release hundreds of thousands of these synthetic fibers - less than 5 millimeters in length, with diameters measured in micrometers (one-thousandth of a millimeter), into the waterway and reach the ocean.

These tiny fibers, along with other small particles less than 5 mm in length are called microplastics. In 2014, it was estimated that there are between 15 and 51 trillion individual pieces of microplastics in the world's oceans, which was estimated to weigh between 93,000 and 236,000 metric tons. (wikipedia)

The scariest thing is that, not a lot is known about microplastics and their impacts at this stage. This means we won't have clear answers to the questions about how these microplastics threaten the sea creatures, the ocean ecosystem, the food chain and our health, until we figure out ways to detect, measure and clear them - sounds as impossible as finding a needle in the oceans.

What you need to know about a plastic-free wardrobe 

Is there plastic in my clothes?

Synthetic fibres are made from synthesized polymers of small molecules. The compounds that are used to make these fibers come from raw materials such as petroleum based chemicals or petrochemicals. (wikipedia)

Plastic is a polymer (like the synthetic fibre) which can be moulded into different shapes.

To be accurate, you will need to find out whether your clothes contain any synthetic fibres. Simply check your labels:

  • Polyester is one of the most popular man-made textile due to its low cost, durability and accessibility.
  • Nylon is mostly used in stockings and activewear.
  • Acrylic is produced to mimic wool. It's used often in sweaters, hats, socks, and knits.
  • PVC, vinyl or PU are used to create shiny coating on the clothing.
  • Elastane, spandex or lycra is another popular synthetic fibre because of its elasticity. It's used largely in anything that stretches, underwear, swimming costumes and activewear. 

Is vegan leather plastic free?

Sorry, vegan leather might not be as environmentally friendly as you think. The most common leather alternative is made from plastic-based polyurethane chloride (PVC) and polyurethane (PU). Plant-based vegan leather derived from natural products like pineapple leaves and apple peel, however, it may still use some polyurethane (PU) as a binding agent. 

If you don't wash your vegan leather goods in the washing machine, or send it to the landfills, it shouldn't cause any plastic to enter the waterways. 

Are clothes made from recycled plastic harmful to the oceans?

Here at ReCo, we embrace the wastes to resources philosophy. It’s inspiring to learn about innovation that helps to turn the excessive plastic wastes into useful everyday goods.

As long as these garments are not washed, particularly in a washing machine, the impact should be minimal. However, these fabrics don’t breathe well, and the chance is that you might end up washing them more often than expected.

Which fabrics are plastic free ?

Cotton, Tencel (made from wood pulps), wool, cashmere, silk, linen and hemp. Make sure the garment is made from 100% or a blend of these materials. It's important to check the sustainability commitments and certifications of the brand you are buying from. For example, some labels claim 100% cashmere - but the fact is, they might contain synthetic fabrics, because 100% cashmere is very expensive to produce. That's why it's best to shop with brands that show 100% transparency and commitments.

What will happen to the plastic bottles you put in the yellow bin?

Less than 30% of plastic containers are being recycled in Australia. The rest ends up in the landfills.

Look around in your laundry, bathroom and kitchen, how many plastic containers are there? While you think these containers would be recycled at the end of use, they may end up in landfills.

Recycling is not a quick process. Trucks collect mixed recycling materials and take them to centralised sorting facilities. Once sorted, these materials then go under different processes of recycling. In our own experience in recycling marine debris, we sorted the materials, filtered out the small unrecyclable debris, mixed the recycling materials with a percentage of virgin plastics, melted them at a high degree and formed them into a new form using injection molding. 

All that said - it’s not like we put a plastic container into the yellow bin and it would quickly become a new thing. There is a lot of energy, cost and labour involved.  

There are a total of 193 material recovery facilities in Australia. Most of these facilities are hand-sorted; nine are semi-automated, and nine are fully automated - nowhere near full capacity to sort all the recyclable materials we produce in Australia. (theconversation.com)

What you need to know about a plastic-free laundry

How much plastic packaging gets recycled in Sydney?

According to a study conducted by UTS and APCO, it was estimated only 32% of plastic packaging waste was recycled in Australia in the 2017-18 financial year. This means more than 600,000 tonnes of plastic packaging were not recycled that year. (theguardian.com)

It was also estimated PET and HDPE plastic has even lower recycling rates at below 30%. Check the bottom of your laundry liquid container - it's likely to say PET or HDPE.

There is a lack of transparency when it comes to what's being recycled. The report also suggested a margin of error that varied from 3% to 17%, meaning the recycling rates could be even lower than estimated. 

How much plastic packaging gets recycled will depend on how committed and capable your local council and recycling facilities are. For example, we're in Alexandria, which belongs to the City of Sydney local government areas. The council has an ambitious goal of diverting 90% of the residential and business wastes from landfill by 2030 (however, it's not clear how much plastic wastes will be recycled). To find out, it's best to check with your local council.

Can laundry detergent cardboard boxes be recycled?

Similar to the takeaway coffee cups, the laundry powder box could be another paper packaging that is tricky to recycle.

Generally speaking, laundry powder cardboard boxes are harder to recycle due to the plastic lining, which is coated inside or outside the boxes and protects the powder from humidity. 

What's the best way to consume these products?

Stick with the 'reduce, reuse and recycle' mantra! Recycling should be the last option if we're able to reduce and reuse. Having said that, keep reading. We have more tips coming up. 

ReCo x Citizen Wolf Sydney - Plastic Free Wardrobe and Laundry

5 tips for a plastic-free wardrobe and laundry - without a hassle

1. For the frequently wardrobe essentials, switch to 100% natural fibres.

We all have our favourite pieces of clothes that we wear often. Especially in times of COVID, lots of us are wearing the same clothes everyday! That said, for the clothes that need to be washed often, go for cotton, Tencel, linen and hemp. For winter, go for 100% wool and cashmere to keep you warm.

Citizen Wolf's collection is completely plastic free. If you visit their factory in St Peters, you could also touch and feel its selection of sustainable fabrics and design your own t-shirt.

How is it hassle free: Citizen Wolf's Magic Fit® technology is an algorithm that creates 95% accurate body measurements. Enter your body information on their website and the team at Citizen Wolf will make a t-shirt perfect for your body. The technology has won the Good Design Awards Gold Award in 2019.

Learn more about Citizen Wolf.

2. Wash your synthetic clothes less

Switching to 100% natural fibres doesn't mean you will have to throw away the clothes that contain synthetic fibres! Quite the opposite - keep them so they don't end up in landfill. Wear them for special occasions. If you wear it every now and then, it means you won't need to wash them often, and thus no microplastics will be flushed down the waterways!

How is it hassle free: well, I can't think of any way easier than not washing my clothes!

3. Use a washing machine filter for microplastics

There are some exciting innovations to tackle the microplastics problem:

  • The Eddy and Filtrol are both filter systems for washing machines (however The Eddy might not be available in the market at the moment).
  • The Cora Ball collects microfibers into fuzz.

We have not tried either option, so can't make a recommendation. There are laundry bags designed to catch the fluff from clothes. However, most of these bags are made from polyester and nylon. We're unsure how much microplastics would be leaked from these bags.

4. Choose packaging-free or plastic-free laundry products

It had been exciting seeing inventive products like The Red House soapberries and the Tru Earth Laundry Eco Strips coming to the markets.

If you can't get yourself to experiment with new products, we have another option for you. This is why we come up with ReCo. We package Simply Clean's lemon myrtle laundry powder in our reusable containers and delivery them to you. When you finish the laundry powder, order a new one. We will collect your empty container, clean and refill for your next use. Nothing will go to landfill ever again.

Simply Clean's laundry powder is free from toxin, allergen, carcinogen and petrochemical - meaning no nasties will enter into the waterways either.

How is it hassle free: It's just like buying another products, except we collect your empty containers back and reuse them for you. For every container collected, you get $2 off for your next order. Doing good things should be rewarded! 

Learn more about how ReCo works and check out our Simply Clean laundry powder

5. Shop local or choose packaging-free delivery

e-Commerce packaging waste is becoming a huge waste and resource problem. We love taking a 30-minute walk down to Citizen Wolf's factory at Precint 75 to pick up our t-shirts. You should do that too if you live around the area!

Citizen Wolf's delivery is also free of plastic packaging.

For ReCo delivery, we use very minimum paper packaging only when it's needed. We avoid using big delivery company, so that we don't contribute to the global packaging waste. Our driver Josh will drive to you, leave your ReCo order in front of your house or hand it in to you with a smile (social distancing applies).

How is it hassle free: We've solved the problem for you. You just order, sit back and relax! 

ReCo x Citizen Wolf Instagram Competition

Switch to a plastic-free wardrobe and laundry. Too easy!

We are making it even easier for you to kick kick start your plastic-free wardrobe and laundry this Plastic Free July. 

For your ReCo order:

  • Use code ReCofriends5 to get $5 off (minimum spend: $30).
  • You will also receive a Citizen Wolf $25 voucher (minimum spend: $99) to get your first plastic-free, custom-made t-shirt. 
  • During COVID-19, if you shop with our COVID Food Delivery Service - run by our local Cafe 0.6, delivery is free. 

Keep updated with our collaboration on ReCo Instagram. We'll be giving out a year of free laundry powder and a mini Citizen Wolf wardrobe in an Instagram competition. Stay tuned!

Image: intelligentliving.co, Getty images. Photography by Jason de Plater.

Danling Xiao