There’s a good chance the clothes you’re wearing right now are made of polyester. A synthetic material that’s washable, warm, and stretchy, it’s incredibly common in clothes because it’s so cheap to produce. The question you might want to ask about polyester, other than whether that trendy shirt or pair of pants are on sale, is: How good is it for the environment? Like most synthetic materials, the answer is: not that great.
That’s why I like the Patagonia Better Sweater Rib Knit 1/4-Zip Fleece. I tested a fleece that is made of 100% recycled polyester material (consisting of reclaimed soda bottles, recycled waste, and other clothes) and felt really good about it. The quarter-zip pullover fleece is incredibly warm and comfortable. There’s a stand-up collar and a zippered pocket on the left chest, which is ideal for stashing keys or a phone in a pinch. Like most Patagonia products, the hems and stitching are meant for durability and longevity. I have a Patagonia fleece I’ve worn every winter for five years and it shows no sign of wearing out.
I wore the Better Sweater on a snowshoe adventure with my wife. We picked a trail about 20 minutes from our house and I donned the fleece for the excursion. Wise choice. In my area, winter temps are quite balmy at around 35-degrees so with only a light jacket I was plenty warm, yet the fleece is breathable and airy -- it doesn’t hug your upper torso like a performance shirt and provides some nice flexibility. I could wear this to work as well.
Even into the evening, as the temperature dipped lower and lower, the Better Sweater still felt warm enough and flexible enough as we trudged along. I wore a dark green fleece, but there are three other colors available (stonewash, nickel, and navy). The zippers locked into place and didn’t feel like they would wear out, either. (The zippers are the only part of the entire fleece that is not recycled.) I was impressed by the warmth and the style of the fleece, but I was proud to wear one knowing that I played a small (but not inconsequential) role in keeping plastic out of the oceans and landfills.