Recycled Cotton Material

What is recycled cotton?

23 Aug 2023

The primary choice of fabric for clothing worldwide, cotton production is environmentally intensive, particularly on water supplies. In fact, cotton production can be attributed to the disappearance of nearly a whole sea! Other major issues stemming from cotton production include the use of polluting pesticides and chemicals to protect crops and land clearance.

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We need to reduce cotton consumption

As global consumption increases, exacerbated by the rise of fast fashion, more and more environments are being irrevocably damaged as a result. It’s clear something has to change.

As consumers, there are a number of approaches that can be taken to reduce the amount of cotton used in our lives. One is simply buying fewer, better quality clothes and cotton products, buying second-hand, or repurposing. Another is buying items made from organic cotton that’s grown without the use of harmful chemicals or pesticides. A third is buying items made from recycled cotton.

Cotton Field

Recycled cotton definition

Recycled cotton can be generally defined as converting cotton fabric into cotton fibre that can be reused in textile products. This allows the item to find a new purpose as something else, diverting it away from landfills and incinerators.

Where does recycled cotton come from?

Sources of recycled cotton fall into two main categories:


Recycled cotton sourced from post-industrial or pre-consumer waste includes excess materials generated during the production of yarn, fabrics, and various textile products. These materials, which might otherwise be discarded, are collected and processed to create recycled cotton fiber for new textile production. This approach contributes to reducing waste at different stages of the manufacturing process, promoting a more sustainable and circular approach to textile production.


Recycled cotton also comes from post-consumer sources, which encompass a diverse range of used items. These include garments that have reached the end of their life cycle, upholstery from furniture, discarded towels, and various household textiles. Instead of being disposed of in landfills or incinerated, these items are collected, sorted, and processed to recover cotton fibers. The recovered fibers can then be transformed into new textile products, giving these materials a second life and minimizing the environmental impact associated with their disposal.

Recycled Cotton Fabrics

When we use recycled cotton from leftover factory materials and things like old clothes and household fabrics, we're being kinder to our planet. This is because we don't need as much new cotton that's grown in ways that can harm nature. Also, we're preventing old cotton items from piling up in landfills and causing trouble. This way of doing things is smart and good for the environment, as we're making things with less waste and less harm.

How many times can cotton be recycled?

Seven times can cotton be recycled, but each time do you need to blend with at least 50% virgin fibers. Every time your recycle the fibers are becoming thinner and thinner. This hughlights the importance of not relying solely on recycling and reminds us to incorporate other eco-friendly practices throughout the textile's life cycle.

How is recycled cotton made?

Recycled cotton is collected from industry or consumer waste. Items are first separated by type and color, then shredded by a machine into smaller pieces and further into crude fiber. It can then be respun back into yarn for reuse and given a new life as another product.

The process of shredding the fabric into its cruder forms is quite stressful. This compromises the quality of the new fibre, making it shorter and harder to spin. Consequently, the new fibres are blended with other virgin materials, such as plastic or cotton, to improve strength and make them suitable for reuse.

Which certificates exist?

Global Recycled Standard (GRS) - international, voluntary, full product standard that sets requirements for third-party certification of Recycled Content, chain of custody, social and environmental practices, and chemical restrictions. The goal of the GRS is to increase the use of Recycled materials in products and reduce/eliminate the harm caused by its production.

Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) is the world’s leading certification standard for organic textiles including both ecological and social criteria. GOTS covers every step in the production process from the fibre to the finished garment.

Where to source recycled cotton?

If you're wondering where to find recycled cotton, these countries offer great options.

  • Turkey, known for its innovative textile industry;
  • Portugal, recognized for its commitment to eco-friendly practices;
  • Sweden, a pioneer in sustainable fashion trends;
  • China, a hub for textile production and recycling efforts;
  • India, a country with a rich history of cotton cultivation and a growing emphasis on sustainability in fashion.

Countries on the Map That Use Recycled Cotton the Most

Is recycled cotton more eco-friendly than organic and conventional cotton?

Whilst organic cotton farming uses no synthetic agricultural chemicals, such as fertilizers or pesticides, and is certainly an improvement over conventional methods, it doesn’t tackle the issue that farming cotton is highly water-intensive and still damages eco-hydrology.

Recycled cotton, on the other hand, offers a distinctive approach to sustainability. Instead of throwing away old cotton clothes, we turn them into new cotton fibers that can be used again. This stops old clothes from filling up landfills and reduces the need to make new cotton.

When we compare recycled cotton to organic and conventional cotton, it's not just about chemicals. It's about looking at the big picture of how they affect the environment. Recycled cotton is better because it gives old fabric new life and reduces the need for lots of new cotton. This is a smart step in being kinder to our planet.

agood company recycled cotton fashion line

We at agood company are advocates of recycled cotton because of the emphasis on circularity and the limited use of virgin materials. Recycling represents a move away from a linear economy (make, use, dispose), to a circular economy in which the raw materials used to produce goods are reused for as long as possible. It’s why we offer a trade-in on our phone cases.

White T-Shirt Made from Recycled Cotton agood company
Close-Up Recycled Cotton Fabrics

By combining recycled cotton with quality, organic cotton, using the latest in modern dying technology, we’ve developed a range of highly sustainable garments that comprise 80% recycled cotton and 20% virgin organic cotton. Feel free to explore our recycled cotton t-shirts and tops for women and recycled cotton t-shirts for men.

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Anders Ankarlid

Anders Ankarlid

Co-founder & Product Development Lead

Co-founder of agood company and product development lead. A serial e-commerce entrepreneur, and a father of three. Have worked in e-commerce for more than a decade. Mindless consumption activist.

"I want to be able to look into my kids’ eyes and honestly say: "I did everything I could to hinder climate-change”

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