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Countless plastic water bottles end up in landfills across the country every single day. One company, Dirtball Fashion, is doing its part to lighten the environmental load by recycling these bottles into new products. But Dirtball isn't converting them into pens or plastic bags, but rather men's apparel.
Dirtball Fashion, founded in 2008 by race car driver and entrepreneur Joe Fox, makes 100-percent-recycled clothing and hats out of plastic water bottles and cotton scraps. When the bottles reach Dirtball's Hickory, N.C., facility, they are sorted by color, stripped of labels and caps, and ground into shavings, which are melted and extruded into virgin polyester fiber. The polyester is then blended with recycled cotton — scraps from the cutting-room floors of other clothing manufacturers — to create a new fiber that is spun into the yarn used to knit Dirtball's unique clothing fabric.
The company produces men's T-shirts, polos, shorts, socks, hoodies and headgear, all made entirely in the U.S. According to Dirtball's website, each T-shirt contains seven 16-ounce water bottles and is printed with water-based or thiolate-free ink. The "Dirt Short," which is made of 25 bottles, is also recyclable: Customers can send their worn-out pairs of Dirtball shorts back to the company's headquarters to be respun back into polyester fiber.
By using recycled bottles and cotton in its manufacturing process, Dirtball eliminates the waste of freshwater, crude oil and cotton, and prevents harmful chemicals and air emissions from reaching the air, soil and water tables, the company's website says. And Dirtball's philosophy and practices go beyond environmental consciousness: Its "made-in-the-USA" policy contributes to a stronger local economy and shorter shipping distances.
The apparel brand's latest project is the Green Jean, which will contain eight to 10 recycled bottles and come in four different styles. Dirtball is currently campaigning on Kickstarter to bring the line to market. To learn more, visit the company's website at DirtballFashion.com.
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