Give your socks back to Smartwool and they’ll be turned into dog beds

It’s not clear what number of socks find yourself filling landfills annually, however they’re one a part of the large downside of textile waste. In 2018, 11.3 million tons of textile waste went to landfills within the U.S. alone, in accordance to the EPA, and one other 3.2 million tons have been burned. Whereas socks could make up a small portion of that waste, shoppers have been nonetheless searching for an answer about what to do with their previous socks in addition to throwing them away, in accordance to a survey Smartwool not too long ago performed. 

[Photo: Franzi Charen/Material Return]

“Plenty of organizations gained’t take donated used socks, so oftentimes shoppers simply don’t know what to do,” says Alicia Chin, the pinnacle of sustainability and social influence on the compay. Many who responded to that Smartwool survey mentioned they throw out one to three pairs of socks a 12 months, so the corporate started searching for an answer, and partnered with Materials Return, a North Carolina-based firm that turns textile waste into new merchandise. Smartwool determined to create dog beds, although it hasn’t ventured into pet merchandise earlier than, due to how that merchandise suits with their “enjoyable loving, outside” model, Chin says. 

Smartwool’s sock take-back program will run between April 21 and Might 2, with sock assortment bins at taking part shops nationwide—for any (clear) socks, not simply Smartwool merchandise. Folks also can go to the Smartwool website to request pay as you go postage and mail their used socks to the Materials Return (an possibility that can be obtainable year-round, even when the return bins at shops are gone). The corporate emphasizes that donated socks ought to be clear, and the sock-stuffing dog beds will be obtainable to buy from Smartwool later this 12 months. 

Whereas the dog beds will be a restricted run product, Smartwool says it’s simply the beginning of what socks can be remodeled into. This initiative is the primary iteration of its Second Cut Project, which is able to give merchandise a “second minimize at life,” and a part of the corporate’s broader objective to make all its merchandise round by 2030. “We all know that the style and attire world has a big impact on the surroundings, by way of local weather change, by way of waste,” Chin says. “Circularly is known as a key a part of that to prolong the lifetime of our virgin uncooked supplies.”


Finally, Smartwool needs to develop its take-back program to all merchandise, not solely socks, and design merchandise with circularity in thoughts. The corporate has been centered on reducing pre-consumer waste, which means the waste that comes from the manufacturing course of (it takes scraps and turns it into insulation, for instance). The Second Lower Venture addresses post-consumer waste as nicely, and the objective, Chin says, is to have zero materials waste from a pre- or post-consumer lens. 

“By way of the place we’re going, dog beds—that’s only the start,” Chin says. “Finally our objective right here is to work with Materials Return to really take these shares, flip it back into yarn, and then be ready to create new merchandise out of it. The skies the restrict from the place we go from there.”