Patent application title: Distribution and recovery of fashion-related products
William Andrew Zeitz (Yarmouth, ME, US)
Leslie Mae Evans (Cape Elizabeth, ME, US)
Class name: Apparel body garments
Publication date: 2009-02-26
Patent application number: 20090049577
A method for distributing and recovering fashion-related products includes
providing fashion-related products made from a recyclable material,
causing the products to be distributed to consumers, accepting return of
the products that have been used by consumers, and causing the used
products to be recycled.
1. A method for distributing and recovering fashion-related products, said
method comprising:providing fashion-related products made from a
recyclable material;causing said products to be distributed to
consumers;accepting return of said products that have been used by
consumers; andcausing said used products to be recycled.
2. The method of claim 1 wherein said recyclable material is a high-density polyethylene.
3. The method of claim 1 wherein said recyclable material is a spunbonded olefin made of high-density polyethylene fibers.
4. The method of claim 1 wherein said products are distributed in packaging configured to facilitate return of said products.
5. The method of claim 4 wherein said packaging is a preaddressed envelope.
6. The method of claim 4 wherein said packaging is made from a recyclable material.
7. The method of claim 6 wherein said packaging and said products are made from the same material.
8. The method of claim 1 further comprising distributing packaging configured to facilitate return of products with said products.
9. The method of claim 1 wherein return of said products is accepted via mail or courier service.
10. The method of claim 1 further comprising providing one or more kiosks at which said products can be returned.
11. The method of claim 1 further comprising providing an incentive to encourage consumers to return products.
12. The method of claim 11 wherein said incentive includes a cash payment.
13. The method of claim 11 wherein said incentive includes a non-monetary gift.
14. The method of claim 11 wherein said incentive includes a discount on a future purchase of a fashion-related product.
15. The method of claim 11 wherein said incentive includes pledging to give a donation to one or more non-profit and/or charitable organizations.
16. The method of claim 1 wherein said said fashion-related products include a line of children's active wear.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates generally to the distribution and recovery of fashion-related products such as apparel and related accessories and more particularly to such products made of recyclable materials.
Clothing or apparel is made from many different types of materials, some more durable than others. Nevertheless, consumers are frequently faced with the problem of their apparel becoming damaged, worn out or otherwise being no longer wearable. When garments are no longer suitable for use, they must be disposed of. For most people, this simply means throwing the garment out in the trash. It is estimated that the average American discards about 67 pounds of old clothing each year, most of which ends up in the country's landfills. Some people are able to reuse portions of the garment in repairing other garments or put the garment to new uses such as a rag. However, such uses occur infrequently and do not provide an efficient method for disposing of old garments.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
One embodiment of the present invention comprises a method for distributing and recovering fashion-related products that includes providing fashion-related products made from a recyclable material, causing the products to be distributed to consumers, accepting return of the products that have been used by consumers, and causing the used products to be recycled.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
Representative embodiments of the present invention provide, among other things, a method for the distribution and recovery of recyclable fashion-related products. As used herein, the term "fashion-related products" refers to all manner of apparel and related accessories including, but not limited to, hats, knapsacks, backpacks, tote bags, beach blankets and so on. The method generally includes causing fashion-related products to be distributed to consumers and enabling consumers to return used fashion-related products for recycling of the products. That is, when a used fashion-related product is no longer suitable or desirable for use, the consumer returns the product for recycling instead of simply discarding it.
In one embodiment, the fashion-related products are made of a recyclable material, particularly a recyclable material that is also durable, water-resistant and stain-resistant such as high-density polyethylene. One suitable material is Tyvek® material, a spunbonded olefin made of high-density polyethylene fibers that is commercially available from the DuPont Company. Such material is lightweight yet durable as well as water-resistant, stain-resistant and easy to care for. In addition to its many performance benefits, such material is also 100% recyclable. When the fashion-related products are made of such recyclable material, the method of the present invention is particularly well suited, although not so limited, to a line of children's active wear, such as wind shirts, wind pants, shorts, jackets, and other garments, and related accessories.
The fashion-related products will generally be made substantially, or even entirely, from the recyclable material to maximize the environmentally friendly nature of the method. However, it is possible that portions of some fashion-related products can be made from other materials. For example, to the extent that a particular product includes ancillary components such as zippers, snaps or other fasteners, these components will not necessarily be made of the base recyclable material that comprises the bulk of the product. Alternate materials--either recyclable or not--can be used for other portions of some products as well.
The distribution of the fashion-related products can be accomplished through any suitable distribution channel including retail stores, mail order catalogs, and Internet sites, to name a few. In one embodiment, the fashion-related products can be distributed in packaging that is configured to facilitate the return of the product once it has become no longer suitable or desirable for further use. That is, the packaging that is used to distribute a product can be reused by the consumer to return the product. For example, the fashion-related products could be distributed in envelopes that the consumer could use to return the used product. The envelopes could be labeled with the appropriate address (i.e., a preaddressed envelope) to facilitate consumers mailing the used products to the proper location. The return packaging, whether an envelope or in another form, typically also will be made from a recyclable material, which can be the same material from which the products are made. Furthermore, return packaging could be distributed with the fashion-related products independently of any product packaging. For example, when fashion-related products are not distributed in product packaging, which is a common practice in retail stores, return packaging such as an envelope could be included with the purchase. Such packaging could then be used to return the fashion-related product as described above.
Certain fashion-related products, such as a pullover windbreaker for example, can be configured to be folded into a pouch, to form a self-enclosed package suitable for mailing or shipping. Such products could then be returned without using additional packaging.
The method also entails accepting return by consumers of used fashion-related products for recycling. Returned products can be accepted or received in any suitable manner. This can include mail, as mentioned above, as well as courier services. Another possibility is to set up kiosks that consumers can bring used products to for collection. Such kiosks can be set up at a wide variety of locations, including but not limited to retail stores at which the fashion-related products can be purchased.
Another feature of the method is providing incentives that will encourage consumers to return used products. One inherent incentive is that the environmentally friendly nature of the method will give consumers a sense of achievement in doing something to help the environment. Where the fashion-related products relates to children's apparel, this aspect can be enhanced by providing means on the packaging to encourage children to include environmental-themed drawings and/or notes when returning the product. More tangible incentives could also be used, such as providing a small cash payment (much like with bottle redemption programs), a non-monetary gift, or a discount on a future purchase of a fashion-related product (which could be in the form of a coupon or certificate). Another possible incentive would be pledging to give a portion of the proceeds from the sale of fashion-related products to one or more non-profit and/or charitable organizations, particularly such organizations that are devoted to environmental causes. Another option would be pledging to give a donation to one or more non-profit and/or charitable organizations for each fashion-related product that is returned.
Once the used fashion-related products are collected they are recycled in any suitable manner. The return packaging, if used, can also be recycled. For instance, the used products/packaging can be shipped in bulk to a recycling facility. The products/packaging are put through a multi-step process and repurposed, typically into wood-plastic composite materials usable for outdoor decks, railings, fences, park benches and many other purposes.
While specific embodiments of the present invention have been described, it should be noted that various modifications thereto can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims.
Patent applications in class BODY GARMENTS
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