We search the world for stories about recycling, reuse and upcycling of outdoor gear. This is a great story about two people that are doing just that.
Started by husband and wife team Sam Palmer and Jennifer Feller, ReFleece is a small design company creating products from a new kind of upcycled felt. The felt is made from reclaimed Patagonia® fleece, collected through Patagonia’s Common Threads™ program, then pressed into Kindle™ and iPad™ cases.
“We met each other folding fleece at the Patagonia Boston store, 17 years ago. Sam was studying aeronautical engineering at Northeastern, and I was starting a renewable energy nonprofit. We were both working retail to make some money, but we fell in love with the way that Patagonia really lives its mission. We have a LOT of old fleece lying around our house! Sam worked with plastics when he was looking for new surfboard materials, so he realized that we could use it to mold new products. He made the first ones in our oven, cooling them in the molds in the backyard. We’re so happy that folks are looking for reclaimed and upcycled products – we have really been bowled over by the response that people have to ReFleece.” Jennifer Feller
Although buying recycled plastic and fleece products does cut down on the oil needed to produce virgin products, the typical recycling process itself can be energy intensive. The ReFleece process, by contrast, avoids the shipping and high-heat re-melting typically used in fleece recycling, in favor of a lower-energy pressing process. Cases are manufactured entirely in the U.S. Each case is unique, and features the original colors, and even the original seam patterns, of the Patagonia jacket or sweater. The cases are lightweight, durable, water resistant, and can be thrown right in the recycling bin to “close the loop” again.
Palmer is a designer and surfer, with a long-time relationship with Patagonia. He helped to design their first surfboard, prompted by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard to look for a smaller environmental footprint than traditional surfboards. After earning a masters degree in product design from Stanford, Palmer joined design firm IDEO, where he designed products for companies like Xyliss, Target, and Proctor & Gamble.
Feller is a former science teacher and environmental activist, with experience as a consultant to non-profit start ups. She and Palmer combine their passion for sustainability with a deep belief in the importance of great design.
ReFleece cases are currently sold online, and in several design boutiques in New York City and the Boston area. They’ll be sold by Patagonia stores beginning in late summer.
Contact Jennifer and Sam at ReFleece.com
Update. A lovely new video from Jennifer and Sam