Thread International: “Doing for clothing what Whole Foods did for groceries”

Thread International is aiming to do for the clothing and textile industry what organic or fair trade has done for groceries by “improving the visibility of supply chains and taking on cleaner, less-intensive manufacturing processes”.

The Pittsburgh-based business recycles plastic bottles into “the most responsible fabric on the planet”. Thread’s Ground to Good™ fabric is harvested from plastic bottles littering the streets and landfills of Haiti.

Thread is a group of self-proclaimed “responsibili-geeks” who have set out to create a fabric that not only contributes to a cleaner planet, but also creates thousands of jobs in developing nations including Haiti and Honduras.

Ground to Good yarn can be woven or knit to create unique fabrics and textures. Thread has more than 35 fabrics in a variety of colors and finishes that enable more designers to make an impact. Fabrics available include jersey, denim, fleece and canvas made from a mix of post-consumer plastic bottles and cotton or reclaimed cotton.

In its aim to transform the fashion industry, Thread has collaborated with a number of brands including Timberland to produce collections which utilise their sustainable fabrics.

Working with communities in Haiti and Honduras, the business also aims to tackle poverty while providing jobs. Haitians and Hondurans collect plastic waste and then turning it into clean plastic waste.

In an interview with Keystone Edge, Ian Rosenberger, founder of Thread, explained: “In Haiti, 100 pounds of recycled plastic equals more than a day’s wage, so they can achieve a sustainable recycling culture faster than in high-income countries. It’s possible to recycle 90% of the waste in Haiti into useful products, and all of that equals jobs.”

Thread International is also aiming to revive the fabric industry in the US, which has been in decline as production has moved to overseas in recent years.

Once plastic bottles are turned into clean flake, this is then taken to the US where it is turned into yarn.

Ian Rosenberger added: “We [Thread] realized that the fabric industry in the United States has dwindled in the past decade, with the work going overseas. We learned about polyester fabric from people who worked in the mills in the South. Virgin polyester comes from oil; by recycling bottles into finished fabric, we use 80 percent less energy than in making virgin polyester.

“The vast majority of the factories we contract with are in the Southeast and Northeast (Massachusetts and New Hampshire), the traditional homes of the fabric industry.”

The fabric is then cut, sewn and finished in Haiti and Honduras, where it is made into clothing, bags and other products. In addition to selling products, Thread also sells its material, available per yard, to consumers as well as clothing companies.

Ian Rosenberger said: “The reason that we’re called Thread is that we believe everyone is connected — there’s a thread that runs through all of us.

“If people adopt Thread as a material the same way they adopted organic or fair trade, we will absolutely change the industry for the better and, in the process, eliminate immense amounts of waste from poor communities.

“We [Thread] figured if we could create a 100% transparent supply chain — where people could see where this product comes from, and document that and share the numbers and stories with our customers and, in turn, the apparel companies’ customers — people would buy it. We’re doing for clothing what Whole Foods did for groceries.”

Thread International

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She is a writer who specialises in sustainable lifestyle and living, wellbeing, and entertainments. Rosa also works as a psychic, counsellor, intuitive reader and spiritual life coach helping people to become who they truly are and manifest their heart & soul’s desires into their lives: www.rosalindmedea.com

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