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Project Repat Reinvents Your Old Garments, Pays Fair Wages in US

| Friday April 6th, 2012 | 2 Comments


In everyone’s closet, there’s a handful of items that have been around far too long. Worn out but well loved t-shirts. Their lucky jeans. That shirt with a strong tie to an amazing life experience. What if they could be remade into something that would once again be allowed to be seen in public? What if it provided fair wages domestically?

That’s the idea behind Project Repat.

Project Repat takes the concept of upcycling and makes it much more personal. While TerraCycle connects people to the waste stream by using trash to create new products, Project Repat takes it a step further, using materials you choose, to make a garment for you.

Rather then outsource to a garment factory in China, cutting costs but adding to carbon impact, Project Repat chose to go with Opportunity Threads, a North Carolina worker-owned, cut-and-sew cooperative. Counter to what’s typical for this textile-heavy region, workers get a fair wage, organic cotton is a focus, and local resources are engaged.

If you have garments you can’t bear to part with, there are several options to give them new life. Repat’s bags are made from four used shirts. The result is a double layered product that is strong enough to bear the weight of bowling balls and watermelons, Repat claims.

In a time when people are seeking more meaning and connection in their lives, Repat has struck on a unique way to honor old duds, while paying a fair wage and lessoning the environmental impact of discarded clothes. So, what’s hiding in your closet?

Readers: Would you buy such products? Is there any way you see further improving this business? Share below please, let’s talk about this!


Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, global trend tracker, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing.



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  • Christie Landtroop

    I love this idea and have thought of doing similar work myself! I wear much of my clothing until it wears out. I need to learn to sew though! I have jeans and shirts and jackets that could be cut up and sewn together into something new. I have also thought of making quilts, other shirts, and pillowcases. Good stuff, Paul!

  • http://Greensmithconsulting.com/ Paul Smith

    Thanks Christie, that’s great that you have so much fire around this. I think were Project Repat excels is for people that aren’t quite there at your level of motivation, but either would like to find new life for old well loved gear and/or want to do something other then give it/throw it away. It’s a fun thing to get, with a lot of story value for the customer, and life value to the people making a living via the business generated.