Rhianna Of Team Timbuktu On Recycling 100,000 Plastic Bottles Into Activewear

by: Well Made Clothes Staff | 3 weeks ago | Features

Rhianna Knight, founder and designer of Team Timbuktu.

Team Timbuktu has hit a milestone: recycling 100,000 plastic bottles into activewear! To celebrate this incredible achievement, we caught up with Team Timbuktu’s founder and designer, Rhianna Knight, to chat about how exactly the label has turned all these plastic bottles into activewear.

Shop Team Timbuktu’s fairly-made, recycled plastic jackets:

And Team Timbuktu’s fairly-made, recycled plastic leggings:

Well Made Clothes: Why use plastic bottles to make activewear and raincoats?

Rhianna Knight: Diving straight into a lesson on fabrics 101 here: to create technical clothing you need to use synthetic fabrics, e.g. to make a garment waterproof or sweat-wicking, or to make it have those performance and durable elements that you need for sports and bad weather. Unfortunately natural fabrics like cotton, wool, and silk can’t perform like you need.

However traditionally synthetic fabrics have been made from oil, which of course is an unsustainable raw material. Prior to starting Team Timbuktu I was lucky enough to work for a snowboarding apparel company and was responsible for their design and production which led to some great relationships with mills and manufacturers and really opened my eyes about what innovations were possible within sustainable fabrics. I knew alternatives were possible and you could create the same high quality performance fabric but with significantly less environmental damage.

When I started Team Timbuktu it was just common sense combined with my personal values to choose the most sustainable fibre out there to reduce our impact.

WMC: How do you measure how many plastic bottles you recycle for every garment?

Rhianna: I worked with our fabric mills to find out how many bottles are recycled to create our fabric, and then it’s a simple equation of our yardage (or total amount of material needed to create the garment) times the amount of bottles recycled per metre. Of course this changes if we change the weight of our material, or our pattern (the design of the garment rather than the print pattern), and what size the garment is, as each size uses a different amount of material. But as an example, our Elements Jacket in size small is made from 31.2 recycled bottles!

WMC: Why should we consider shopping recycled materials over virgin materials?

Rhianna: Recycled materials are great as they’re a step forward towards circularity. They’re not perfect, as no fabric ever is, but it’s a start. That way we can reduce the environmental impact of fashion, by recycling resources that have already been created (and in this case we definitely have a lot of excess single use plastic) rather than rely on non renewables such as oil to create our fabrics. This way we’re reducing our dependence on oil and using up a waste stream that we have excess of.

Shop all of Team Timbuktu’s fairly-made, recycled activewear here or below.


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