According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 85 percent of clothing and textiles in the United States ends up in landfills. The average person throws away around 70 pounds of clothing per year which is about 23.8 billion pounds of waste annually. That’s a lot of waste.

At Columbia Sportswear they are committed to doing something about the waste.

The company has always been committed to quality products brought to market by paying attention to reducing their environmental impacts in product design, product manufacturing and the transportation of the products.

“At Columbia, we are committed to taking a holistic, life cycle approach to managing the environmental impacts of the products we make. This includes extending the life of our products and keeping these products out of the landfill once they have reached the end of their wearable life as well as extending the life of “seconds” garments through our non-profit donation program.”

As Columbia began to really think about post-consumer recycling, they decided to take additional steps to ensure that their apparel and footwear does not end up in landfills. To this end, they developed the ReThreads apparel and footwear recycling program. Beginning October 2015, Columbia began piloting their ReThreads program in seven retail locations in Oregon, Washington and Minnesota.

Columbia’s Rethreads program encourages consumers to bring in their used clothing and shoes, from any brand in clean, dry condition, to their participating retail stores to be given a new life. As a thank you, Columbia offers coupons for 10 percent off of a purchase of $75 or more to customers who drop off their used materials.

Products collected at participating Columbia retail stores are sent to an I:CO partner processing facility where they are evaluated and sorted for rewear, reuse or recycling depending on specific sorting criteria. The name I:CO stands for “I collect” and the company is an innovative textile recycling solutions organization whose aim is to keep used clothing and shoes in an everlasting life cycle where these items can be reprocessed, reused and recycled again and again.

If materials are still wearable they will find new homes through the second-hand market. Products that cannot be worn again will get another useful life in applications such as toys, artwork and cleaning cloths. Products that cannot be reused are recycled into secondary raw materials for items such as running tracks, insulation, carpet padding, stuffing for toys and even fiber for new clothing.

You can participate in the ReThreads program at the following stores, with full roll out to all Columbia Stores in 2016:

For more information, visit

The best way to make a contribution in fashion is to promote the idea that a fundamental interest in preserving the environment is itself fashionable.
Giorgio Armani, Fashion Designer