By Lori Borgman
The husband would gladly take a root canal over shopping for clothes any day of the week. But because the pockets in a pair of beloved dress pants finally wore out, he went shopping for a new pair with absolutely no prompting or prodding from me.
And you thought Donald Trump winning the election was a shock.
I was still in a stupor when he came home with the new dress pants. I shook them out to see if they needed pressing and commented that the fabric felt a little thin.
“This fabric reminds me of something,” I said.
“My old dress pants?” he asked.
“No, it’s something familiar, but I can’t quite place it. They sort of feel like, oh, what is it? I know — a Ziploc bag!”
A tag fell into view that said, “Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles.”
“So my new dress pants are made of 2-liters?”
“Yep, looks like you could be wearing Coke Zero, Gatorade, Mountain Dew and a touch of Dasani.
“We buy applesauce in plastic containers, don’t we?”
“We do. There could be some Musselman’s in here, too.”
We stared at the pants, mesmerized like natives viewing their first Polaroid. It was stunning to think we could go from water bottles to recycling bins to men’s wear. And who knew the husband was a trendsetter.
He’s not alone. Nearly half a million graduates will wear caps and gowns this year made from recycled plastic. There are also name brand athletics clothes, messenger bags, backpacks, jeans, car upholstery and fleece now made from recycled bottles.
It turns out, processors collect plastic bottles and shred them into flakes. The plastic flakes are then purchased by a company that converts them into small pellets. The pellets are melted, extruded and dumped in a large room with a young maiden with long hair who spins them into polyester yarn by morning.
It’s an involved process, but no doubt more efficient than engineering sheep to grow polyester.
I’ve always wondered what happens to all those plastic bottles that accumulate in recycling containers, and now I know. The husband is wearing them.
When he goes shopping in another seven years, men’s dress pants will probably be made from burger wrappers and used ketchup packets.
“I wonder what happens if you wear them in the hot sun?” he mused. “You think they’ll melt?”
“Naw. I think it will be like when women in skirts sit on vinyl car seats that have baked in the August heat. You’ll just let out a high-pitched scream.”
He is not amused.
“Wonder what happens to them in the cold?” he says.
“Probably like any polyester in the cold, the wind will whip right through them and you’ll feel like you’re freezing to death. On the upside, you can probably walk through a car wash and remain completely dry.”
Lori Borgman is an Indianapolis columnist. Send comments to email@example.com.