Patagonia's Truth to Materials collection makes use of cutting-room scraps and respun wool fibers. (Jeff Johnson/Patagonia)
Photo: Jeff Johnson/Patagonia

Taking a product and adapting it for a different use. A cousin of reuse and recycling, repurposing is a design principle similar to the one described by William McDonough and Michael Braungart in their 2002 book Cradle to Cradle, in which materials are reborn again and again, often in new forms.

Patagonia, the most prominent example, repurposes plastic bottles to make fleece for new jackets, a practice that started in 1993. Over the past decade, dozens of other companies have followed. Alchemy Goods makes wallets and bags out of old bike tubes. Kialoa Paddles makes blades out of diaper-manufacturing scraps. Manduka uses old yoga mats to make flip-flops. NSP makes SUPs from discarded coconut husks. Keen’s Harvest III backpack is made from automobile airbags that were never installed. And Indosole makes spent tires into sandals. Patagonia even took repurposing a step further with its experimental Truth to Materials Collection, a seven-piece line that included sweaters made from cutting-room scraps and jackets fashioned from respun wool fibers.

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