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Little Yellow Bird Launches Collaborative Textile Recycling Initiative To Close The Loop On Cotton

Little Yellow Bird CEO, Samantha Jones accepts Green Award at the Wellington Gold Awards

Little Yellow Bird is a Wellington-based uniform and apparel company that creates high-quality, organic, sustainable, and environmentally responsible clothing. They have a wealth of experience in creating comfortable and ethical products and now they’ve turned their hand to tackling end-of-life solutions for 100% cotton products.

Huge amounts of cotton are sent to landfill each year. The Circular Cotton Collective is a group of businesses that are pooling resources and sharing the costs to aggregate, sort and re-distribute or recycle end-of-life cotton. Members include Alsco, Maggie Marilyn, ReCreate Clothing, The Paper Rain Project, Commonsense and The Sustainability Trust.

The initiative is supported through funding from the Ministry for the Environment’s Waste Minimisation Fund. Little Yellow Bird was awarded $200,000 in match-funding to test the pilot solution and develop a feasibility study around bringing recycling technology onshore. The project also aims to educate 150,000 kiwi kids about textile waste.

The textile to textile recycling process is cutting-edge technology being developed in Europe. It breaks fibres down to the molecular level to create a pulp which is then fed back into the production chain. Ideally, we would have a solution closer to home so we really see this as an interim solution. The carbon associated with the shipping is being offset via Ekos.

More local projects have included a line of face masks that were made from brand new but unusable products, initiatives including reclaiming cotton for pet toys and supporting apparel brands and students to use up-cycled materials in their collections.

Little Yellow Bird is committed to understanding and minimising their impact at each stage of production. Jones said that partnering with companies equally committed to the same mission was refreshing and something she hopes more businesses would place greater emphasis on, ‘it’s the only way to make real progress in tackling some of the biggest waste reduction challenges society faces.’

Individuals wanting to recycle their own cotton are encouraged to purchase a Take Back Bag through the Little Yellow Bird website. Each bag fits roughly 10 t-shirts or the equivalent in other cotton garments - which will be included in the initiative.

The collaborative approach taken by these brands is essential, especially as the minimum threshold to access the technology would be unreachable for most. Erica Gadsy Founder of ReCreate Clothing agreed that, “it is a privilege to be able to collaborate with like-minded brands to achieve such a progressive end-of-life outcome for our garments, that wouldn’t otherwise be available on our own.

Little Yellow Bird has been going from strength to strength recently named as “Best for the World” by B-Corp which placed them in the top 5% of B-Corps globally and last week took out the Green Gold Category at the Wellington Gold Awards, presented for excellence in sustainable practices and products.

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