Zippers are easily overlooked, but when you start paying attention, they’re simply everywhere. Here is why these small heroes matter in a big way.
Formerly known as the clasp locker, zippers were invented over a 100 years ago! They are commonly used for binding/fastening the edges of an opening in fabric or other flexible materials, i.e. garments, bags, jackets, jeans, luggage, and sporting and camping goods, just to name a few.
Our demand for these little friends is so great that YKK (the world’s largest zipper company) produces 3 million kilometers of them worldwide per YEAR. This amount can circle the globe over 74 times, and we’re just talking about a single company (and there are other manufacturers as well).
Needless to say, with the increasing amount of manufacturing going on every single year, the impact on our resources and environment is great. The production process of zippers involves large volumes of water consumption, fabricating metals, making synthetic fibers such as nylon, metal plating, adding dyes to zippers, and other manufacturing intricacies.
YKK is looking to tackle this issue head-on with their sustainable zipper line Natulon®. These super-zippers are made with resource-saving, recycling-oriented (made from plastic water bottles) deadstock fiber and other polyester remnants. Their mechanic recycling technology is used to turn waste materials into the zippers we all need, while their chemical recycled zippers can be perpetually recycled to reduce the need for new material inputs.
This way, you can zip up without over-worrying.
Furthermore, YKK also added to its line of sustainable zippers by pairing them with plant-based materials and organic cotton (not sure why organic cotton is the way to go? Read this).
Other tech-oriented innovations include their ECO-DYE® process which utilises supercritical fluid dyeing (“SFD”) technology, allowing the reduction of water consumption in the zipper dyeing process to nearly zero.
Zippers keep us safe from storms and wind, and at times from embarrassing moments. However, our reliance on zippers calls for a much needed change in the way we make them.
With the lead of YKK, we hope other manufacturers will also follow suit in forming our upcycle economy, where products are made with sustainability and durability in mind.