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Sustainable shopping is always in fashion at Eileen Fisher Renew

Look up "textile waste" and you'll find an array of jaw-dropping statistics. Clothing is produced and discarded at an alarming rate, generating millions of pounds of textile waste that sit (and rot) in landfills.

One brand tackling textile waste head-on is Eileen Fisher Renew, Eileen Fisher's take back and resale program. Renew buys back items that customers no longer wear, giving them new life — the garments are either sold to a new customer or recycled into a new product.

The catchphrase used at Renew is, "We're saving the world, one garment at a time."

Lilah Horwitz, Director of Marketing and Content at Renew, said that while issues such as overconsumption and environmental waste are overwhelming, there can be joy in taking small, individual steps to make an impact.

Horwitz explained that Renew's goal is to "try to give the clothes as many wears as possible." When customers return used Eileen Fisher garments to Renew, the clothes go through a three-tiered system, and are either:

  1. Cleaned and resold (if the item is in perfect condition)
  2. Sold at a warehouse sale (if the item has slight flaws)
  3. Upcycled or recycled into new products (if the item can't be resold as-is)

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As Megan Arnaud, senior store leader, said: the goal is for Eileen Fisher products to be circular — "an endless loop of resources."

Since its inception, Renew has received around 2 million pre-loved garments. Unique to their take-back program is that they accept items in any condition. Eileen Fisher claims responsibility for their products "throughout their entire lifecycle," Horwitz said.

The clothes that land in the third category of the three-tiered system, no longer able to be worn as garments, get a new life in a different form. In their "Waste No More" program, items undergo an industrialized felting process. These felted materials are then sewn into home goods or other accessories.

These third-category garments might also be a part of a special collection. For example, in partnership with the local nonprofit, Refugee Artisan Initiative (RAI), Renew recently created a Mended Sweaters Collection. Artisans from RAI created visible mends on slightly damaged sweaters, producing beautiful, one-of-a-kind, upcycled items for resale.

MORE: Refugee Artisan Initiative trains and empowers refugee women to succeed

The bottom line? Everything gets re-worn, reused or repurposed.

When shopping at Renew, Arnaud said that there is something for everyone. Case in point? She's seen multiple generations come in to shop together, and everyone leaves with a new item for their wardrobe. With staff members that assist and educate, customers receive an "elevated secondhand experience" when they come in to hunt for their next new-to-them item.

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Shopping at Renew is "a really accessible way to have a sustainable wardrobe," Horwitz said. The circularity of Renew's model is just about as sustainable as you can get. By buying timeless, high-quality, pre-loved items that will have a long life in your wardrobe (and that will have another life after you no longer want them), you ensure that resources are well-used rather than tossed into the landfill.

So head on over to Columbia City, or check out the online shop, to begin your sustainable shopping journey with Eileen Fisher Renew.

Eileen Fisher Renew is located at 4860 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118

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