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The North Face redesigns fleece sweaters so they're easier to recycle

The North Face started off as a small California shop selling outdoor clothing for hiking and mountaineering. It's now a behemoth selling USD 2.46 billion a year. With great revenue comes great responsibility, and the brand's latest effort to lessen its environmental impact is a collection of garments designed to be taken apart.

By making changes to materials like trims, tags and zippers, The North Face's 'Circularity' products are far easier to recycle. Design tweaks were made to both recover a higher percentage of material and slash the time it takes to do so, down to as little as nine seconds for an Auburn jacket. Ensuring used clothing makes its way back to The North Face —  which is best positioned to repair, reuse or recycle it — the brand is also relaunching its take-back program. Customers who return garments receive a USD 10 credit that can be used online or in-store.

Trend Bite

People are increasingly wary of greenwashing. They have every reason to be, since companies have been playing fast and loose with sustainability credentials. One way for brands to back up their claims is by demonstrating precisely what they're doing to become more environmentally responsible — like The North Face rethinking garment design for easier recycling. And then expand those improvements from minor, 'green' collections to as many products as possible. Consumers will expect embedded sustainability to become business hygiene, not just a nice extra ;-)