Wearing Soda Bottles and Scraps: A Run Oregon review of Recover Brands apparel

Heather Blue Sport

Heather Blue Sport


Look at the above pictures. I mean, it looks just like a tee-shirt, but really the awesomeness of Recover Brands goes well beyond what surface level looks and feel. Annette and I are probably going to spend the majority of this post talking more about Recover as a company than as their items (though we will do both), because we think what they do is pretty awesome and amazing.

So what is Recover’s mission?

Our mission is to create the best, most environmentally friendly and socially responsible products possible; and to educate and inspire those around us to live and work for a sustainable tomorrow.

And how did that come about?

One afternoon, John told Bill that it was possible to create high-quality, comfortable apparel using recycled materials. Polyester from plastic soda bottles. Cotton from cutting floor scraps. They could make a better shirt while keeping trash out of the landfill; out of the river; out of the ocean. One that people could wear with the knowledge that they were helping restore balance to the environment. The young outdoorsman was sold. More rides led to more discussions and eventually the pair decided to start Recover.

Bill and John not only endeavored to make the best sustainable apparel, but to also develop a 360° process — from design to manufacturing to fulfillment — as environmentally conscious as the products they would sell. Recover would minimize dyes; significantly reduce the use of chemicals, water and energy; and completely eliminate plastic packaging.

Six years later, we continue to make durable, eye-catching clothing in a sustainable and socially responsible manner.  As we strive to improve our products and our process, we are constantly inspired those around us. Whether they’re running up a mountain, teaching in a classroom, touring in a band, walking through a park, or cycling with a friend. As long as they choose to wear Recover, we’ll never stop trying to do it the better way.

Recover has a variety of upper body apparel- including shirts, hoodies, and polos. And how are these items made? With plastic bottles and cotton salvage of course. “What?!” you say? “Impossible!“, you scream? I think we should all just agree to say “awesome” and read on in awe.

Here’s the breakdown: First, we collect and sort post-consumer plastic bottles, stripping them of all labels and caps. Next, we salvage cotton from discarded industry scraps, which are also sorted by color and blended with polyester.The reclaimed fiber is then spun into yarn and knitted into fabric, which is ultimately cut and sewn into a garment. With our proprietary process, we’re able to make fibers that are “first quality,” which makes them look and feel great.

The products are also made in three locations – here in the US, Haiti, and Guatemala. And each have some really cool stories. Their Haiti program sends 100% recycled fabrics to a cuting and sewing co-op there that helps employ Haitians. Those workers construct the shirts, all while giving a living wage to hundreds.  Their Guatemalan location is actually powered from coffee extract and wood chips (harvested from a  local forestry agency), as well as a few other raw resources.

Men's Sport Tee

Men’s Sport Tee


Matt: First and foremost, seeing a shirt that is 100% recycled come in plastic wrapping was…odd. But in looking closer, it was nice to see that the packaging is actually TIPA sustainable packaging, which is 100% compostable and has similar mechanical and shelf-life properties as ordinary plastic.

Had you not told me that this shirt was constructed from plastic bottles and discarded cotton, I’m not sure I would have ever guessed. In fact, there are 8 plastic bottles in each shirt (probably the closest to a six-pack I will ever have on my body)! The feel is reminiscent of many “tech-style” tees, though probably more soft to the touch than most logo’d ones you receive with registration. The sizing (a Large for me) seemed pretty true and was roomier than I expected (not a bad thing). All-in-all, though the shirt is plain, it is very comfortable, a perfect closet staple, and I feel good while I wear it – understanding where it came from.

Annette: I was quite intrigued with what I had read about Recover clothing, but I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I was pleased to see that the 8 plastic bottles that made up my shirt had turned into a great heather blue color. The fabric looks like your typical tech shirt material. It is light and breathable, but has a slightly different feel than most tech shirts. I can’t quite describe it. It is not uncomfortable at all. Just a little different. I like the V-neck and that the shirt is not super-fitted, but more casually comfortable. Ladies, if you lift weights regularly – as I do, I would recommend going up a size. I typically wear a Medium, but for me the medium was a little snug across my shoulders and into the sleeves. Besides this, I would say that this shirt would be a great go-to shirt for running, working out, or even daily casual wear. And, what’s not to like about sporting stylish plastic bottles and discarded cotton scraps?


Thank you to Recover for providing us with test shirts. Please read our transparency page for info on how we do our reviews.

About Matt Rasmussen (1572 Articles)
Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching the Olympics, sampling craft beers, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010.
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