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BirdieBlue www.shopbirdieblue.com is a company in Stowe, VT that was created to save discarded clothing from ending up in landfills and give it new life as bags and packs. Company owner Kate Harvey spent three years of product development to refine a process to transform old ski clothes into new sling bags, carryalls, pouches, and packs that are sustainably designed, cut, and handmade by women in the USA.
The BirdieBlue products’ components such as fabrics, zippers, buckles, clasps, and webbing straps are made from upcycled, recycled, or compostable materials. The product labels and clips are made from recycled materials from SA8000 (internationally certified standards) suppliers. The products are packed and shipped in 100% recycled and compostable mailers.
Harvey commented, “Upcycled is taking something that exists and transforming it into something that gives it new life.” For example, the strap webbing for the packs is made from old seat belts. Her goal is to “keep as many clothes out of landfills as possible.” There are 16 million tons of annual textile waste and only about 15% is recycled or resold while three million tons are incinerated and 10 million tons end up in landfills.
To obtain the fabric materials, BirdieBlue scours thrift stores and ski swaps and collects outerwear donations from individuals and companies. The fabrics are cut into patterns and about 5 to 10 bags can come from a pair of snowpants or a jacket. Recycled materials are made from other materials that are broken down to create a new material thus the BirdieBlue plastic buckles are made from recycled plastic bottles and the labels and zippers are made from more than fifty percent recycled materials.
With all this sustainability built into the BirdieBlue operation it is no wonder that the company sends its materials that are not reusable to textile recycling outlets which use them as insulation, padding, lining, quilt fillers, and so on.
People who want to discard old clothes can access the BirdieBlue website “Used Gear Kit” form and they will send you a mailer that you can use to deliver old clothes to the company. BirdieBlue will be managing a booth and hosting the Revive, Reuse, and Recycle Zone at the Snowbound Expo Boston Ski Show (November 3-5 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center) where people can donate old snow clothes (snow pants, ski bibs, ski jackets, tents, windbreakers, etc.), cut them at a station in the booth, and create a limited-edition bag. There will also be a retail station at the show to purchase BirdieBlue products.
BirdieBlue is a member of 1% for the Planet through which1% of every sale is donated to support environmental organizations. The company is committed to paying living wages, supporting local economies and building safe working environments. The company mission is to inspire adventure and protect Mother Earth.
Roger Lohr of Lebanon, NH, who owns and edits XCSkiResorts.com, has published articles and promotional topics on snow sports, sustainability, and trails in regional and national media.
Kate Harvey owner of BirdieBlue transforms discarded clothes into new products. (Courtesy photo)
Alpine skiers with BirdieBlue packs. (Courtesy photo)