Fugee Speaks. We respect the sheep (of course), the craft (without a doubt), the customer (duh!), and our shared natural and living environment. “Fugee Speaks” is a regular column with notes on what Ibex does behind the scenes to keep Vermont and Mother Nature happy.
Something that doesn’t get mentioned much, but is deserved of attention, is our commitment to our fabric pre- and post-consumer. We respect the sheep and their caretakers in our supply chain too much to have a single ounce of their hard work go to waste, because as our promise states, we’re committed to uncompromising craftsmanship and customer satisfaction along the entire supply chain. Know this, every piece of scrap from the cutting room floor, and every pair of woolies bottoms returned because your niece suddenly decided she does not like stripes anymore, doesn’t go to waste. This is something we like to call piece of fabric, peace of mind.
With this post, we invite you to take a peek behind our wool-draped doors, past all those dogs running around, and find out what we do with all those little bits of colored wool and amazing clothes that end up back at Ibex HQ, instead of on your body.
Case in point: Ibex finds a useful purpose for every piece of scrap from the cutting room floor and every item returned from a customer (not many, but it happens).
Among the many life cycle-extending alternatives out there for unused fabric or returned clothing, we are honored to subscribe to what we consider to be three of the best. We take pride in a lot over here at Ibex, not the least of which is keeping our fabric out of landfills, but moreover, we’re thrilled to connect quality fabric and clothing with people and organizations that will put it to better use.
Delancey Street Foundation is a community that provides tools for people to overcome their own challenges. By empowering these people to play the central role in their own success, Delancey has been bettering lives for over 40 years as the country’s leading residential self-help organization. Ibex has been donating returned clothing to Delancey for two years. We select apparel suitable for program graduates to wear to job interviews, such as our fine merino polo shirts, long sleeve shirts, and button downs.
Peak 7 Adventures, based in Washington and Oregon, is a non-profit organization that brings underprivileged and at-risk youth on adventures in the epic, Pacific Northwest. We honor and respect their mission and understand the critical role clothing can play in the success of a juicy Class 3, a multi-pitch climb, or an ascent of Mt. Baker (all things these amazing kids can accomplish during a multi day adventure with Peak 7). To play our small part, Ibex has been donating used, returned clothing for 10 years. For Peak 7 donations, we primarily send small sizes, kids-specific, and cycling gear. With the mission of seeking confidence and connection through adventure, the Peak 7 efforts are truly humbling to us here at Ibex.
Ibex fabric that does not make the cut (Haha – get it? Scraps? Not making the cut?) and is fortunate enough to make it into a finished garment, does not end up going to the big pile of scrap in the sky, but rather gets reincarnated in the most imaginative of ways.
Jeffco Fibres has been a leading, global supplier of textile fibers to retailers and manufacturers since 1971. We send our cutting room scraps and damaged garments; we are unable to donate, to Jeffco for a second chance at a usable life. Depending on the condition of the raw material and the ultimate end use, Jeffco determines the best method (cleaning, baling, cutting, dusting, opening, blending, picking, garneting or carding) for reprocessing into new fiber.
Once the fiber is prepared into a useable form, it is either used by itself, or more often is blended as a component with other materials and then made into a yarn, nonwoven, or felt. In all likelihood, you may already be sporting some Ibex repurposed materials in the form of iPad armor, grocery tote, or commuter bag. In any size, shape, color, or form, this material is truly testament to getting the most out of what you have.
For those of you with eagle eyes, the Ibex wool felted bags contain thousands of little pieces of our unused fabric in the matrix. Look closely and you’ll spy with your little eye what we’re talking about.
Since beginning our fabric recycling program with Jeffco in 2006, an estimated 300,000 lbs. of raw fabric have been removed from the waste stream and given life in new products. No small feat considering that a whopping 85% of all discarded textiles – 11 million tons – are sent to U.S. landfills every year (according to the U.S. EPA).
Even though wonder wool can just be left to let nature do with it as it pleases, as wool is 100% compostable, doing “just enough” is never enough for Ibex. If there’s a way to improve, reduce, expand – or insert the proper action verb of choice – Ibex will be looking for it.