Organic linen purveyor Coyuchi is taking home textile rentals one step ahead with new, closed-loop program.
More and more brands — from IKEA to H&M and West Elm — are adopting a rental model in order to reduce waste and support the ever-growing sustainability movement, and consumers are taking note. But what does it mean to be ‘sustainable’ these days? It seems the word has been so overused, it has started to lose its gleam and meaning.
Each year, the US generates 21 billion pounds of post-consumer textile waste — that’s billion with a “B.”
To truly make a difference in how much waste we create, we need to close the loop, completely. Rental programs — such as clothing-rental service Rent the Runway’s recent partnership with West Elm, to offer home textile rentals — offer a better solution than buying, but is it really the best we can do?
Product rentals have the potential to help if the product is used to its fullest life cycle; however, the constant turnover tends to accelerate wear and tear, granting these items an express ticket to the landfill. Rentals may see more use from more people, but it doesn’t actually extend the life of the products being passed around; ideally, each product would be renewed or recycled at the end of its rental (and useful) life. To be circular, there needs to be a closed-loop process from design to end-of-life and back into design again — a continuous circle, versus the make-use-dispose cycle that happens all too frequently with textiles today. And that’s not even factoring in the environmental cost of nonstop shipping back and forth.
Coyuchi’s first-of-its-kind, closed-loop textile program, Coyuchi for Life, is a circular solution to the growing problem of landfill waste that many rental programs will, unfortunately, eventually add to. The organic linen subscription program sends fresh sets of organic sheets and/or towels to arrive at subscribers’ homes in increments of 6, 12 or 24 months, with rates starting as low as $5/month. As soon as the new sets arrive, subscribers can simply send their previously loved linens back to us in the packaging provided. Next, our partners at The Renewal Workshop step in to renew, upcycle or recycle these returned linens: They may be laundered, using an earth-friendly, waterless process; mended and sold as “refreshed”; or, if they have tears or other issues that can’t be fixed, offered to artisans and independent designers who upcycle textiles into new products such as bags, clothing and accessories. Any Coyuchi linens that aren’t upcycled are recycled. The process of textile recycling is still evolving, but the goal is to someday be able to re-spin 100 percent recycled cotton, completely closing the loop.
The circularity of Coyuchi for Life keeps linens out of landfills; but it also makes more sustainable, organic sheets and towels more accessible to a wider demographic. In addition to our low monthly rates, our “refreshed” linens are specially packaged and labelled, then sold at a discount in our brick-and-mortar Point Reyes Station store.
Shopping with end-of-use in mind helps to cut down on textile waste, and Coyuchi for Life makes this goal easy and accessible for all of our subscribers. However, even non-subscribers can do their part, because Coyuchi recently launched another take-back program, 2nd Home, where customers are now invited to send their Coyuchi linens back when they’ve reached the end of their life cycles — no subscription necessary. As a thank you, 2nd Home participants receive a discount toward a future Coyuchi purchase. The returned linens then receive the same treatment as Coyuchi for Life textiles — the Renewal Workshop refreshes, upcycles or recycles each item, keeping every textile in the loop and out the landfill.
Being aware of our footprint starts with creating products that are kinder to the earth and its inhabitants. And it ends with reusing or properly recycling of said products. It’s a huge step that more and more brands are looking into rental programs, and even better that customers are all for it. But in order for these renewable programs to be optimum rather than just satisfactory, they must close the loop completely.