Smartwool wants to recycle your old socks: Here’s how you can help

Photo credit: Bern Broudy

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For a limited time, Smartwool will recycle your old, used socks – from all brands. All you have to do is hand it in.

Socks are one of the most common items of clothing that is thrown away. It makes sense. Unlike your lightly used skis or down jacket that still has a lot of life, no one wants to buy your used, worn-out socks. And there is nowhere to simply recycle them. So they go in the trash.

Well not anymore. Now Smartwool is taking back your old socks of any brand. From Earth Day 2021 through May 2, 2021, search for containers at local retailers where to put your old socks off.

The Collection container are temporary. Starting April 21st, every consumer can download a label from Smartwool website Send socks to the brand for recycling. A list of participating retailers can be found at Click here.

Smartwool Second Cut projectPhoto credit: Franzi Charen

The second cutting project from Smartwool

Throwing off worn-out socks has a bigger impact than you can imagine. Socks sent to landfill add 5,025 tons of carbon to the atmosphere annually. They are also part of the larger circularity problem in textiles as a whole. Every year around 11.3 tons of garbage ends up in landfills.

That’s why Smartwool created Second Cut, a way to move the needle towards a more circular economy, starting with socks. The Second Cut project gives old socks a “second cut” by extending the lifespan of raw materials.

Collected socks become a new source of upcyclable materials. This reduces the environmental impact of the socks and the products made from them.

“Through our research, we have found that consumers want to be more sustainable and recycle their socks, but currently do not have the resources to be part of the solution,” said Alicia Chin, senior manager, sustainability and social impact at Smartwool.

“While our goal is to achieve full circularity in our product portfolio, there is clearly an urgent need for a recycling solution in the sock category, on which we are focusing our initial efforts.”

Smartwool recyclingPhoto credit: Franzi Charen

Dog beds of the future

To collect and recycle socks, Smartwool works with Material Return, a platform for custom circularity. From April 21 to May 2, 2021, Smartwool will collect used socks of every brand from participating retailers across the country and online. The company will use these socks for stuffing dog beds that you can buy from Smartwool during the holiday season 2021.

Simultaneously with its take-back initiative, Smartwool has just announced that it will be swapping virgin nylon for recycled nylon in three performance collections – and that all Smartwool socks will use recycled (not virgin) nylon in the coming months.

Recycled nylon reduces Smartwool’s carbon footprint. The redesign also makes the socks softer and more durable. We have worn the new socks every day for the past three weeks and not only do we feel good every time, but there is also no pilling on the heel.

Smartwool second cutPhoto credit: Franzi Charen

Smartwool is just getting started

According to Smartwool, this is just the beginning of how to get creative with reducing its impact and pursuing its goal of being carbon positive.

Smartwool’s Second Cut project is launched as part of a larger 10-year social impact roadmap that also includes the use of 100% climate positive wool, 100% regenerative materials and 100% circular products by 2030.

In addition, there is significant investment in BIPOC and LGBTQ representation and communication across the company – and in attracting people who have not always felt welcome or who have the resources to get out into the great outdoors.

Find out more at Smartwool

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