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Sustainable Style

Oakley launches golf shirt collection aiming to reduce pollution in oceans and landfills

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February 23, 2022

Previewed at and inspired by the 2022 Waste Management Phoenix Open’s environmentally responsible mission, sunglasses brand Oakley has released a polo shirt line with innovative sustainable technology. As the textile industry continues to be a significant source of harm to the environment, more brands are expanding into responsible production methods. However, CiCLO, the chemical additive incorporated in Oakley’s new Reduct polo line, is the first of its kind to be implemented into Oakley’s performance apparel and takes on a new approach to combating pollution.
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Unlike other sustainable methods, such as using yarns and materials from recycled materials like plastic bottles, CiCLO focuses on an “end of life” solution to reduce pollution in the long term. Plus, the addition of CiCLO technology will not impact the performance of any garment when it is worn. The Oakley Reduct Polos still feel like your typical performance golf shirt that’s durable, moisture-wicking and full of stretch, but has a smaller footprint on the environment once you’re done with it.

Additionally, the line includes Oakley’s Hydrolix performance system, which will keep you cool and dry throughout your day or round of golf. The Reduct Polo features a subtle geometric pattern and comes in black, white, yellow, and green, inspired by the colors of the Waste Management and it’s achievement of becoming the largest zero-waste sporting event in the world.

“Oakley wants their golf shirts to be worn and used as much as the user wants to have that garment,” Cheryl Smyre, Director of Advanced Materials at CiCLO, said. “So they’ll perform the same as a traditional polyester during their useful life, but when that garment ends up in the environment, either in a landfill or in the form of microfibers as pollutants, it will biodegrade like a natural fiber.”

Oakley has incorporated more and more recycled materials into its golf line over the last several years but wanted to take their sustainable efforts a step further to focus on where the materials end up after golfers are done with the products. The golf collection is the first in the company to use CiCLO to reduce how long pieces sit in landfills.

Initially patented in 2016, CiCLO is an additive chemistry that helps synthetic materials like polyester and nylon biodegrade like natural fibers, such as cotton or wool. According to Smyre, the technology aims to solve two major issues. The first being that, while polyester is known as one of the most cost-effective and long-lasting performance fabrics on the market, it takes over 120 years to biodegrade, typically in landfills which are harmful to the environment. Secondly, when polyester garments are washed and cared for, they shed plastic microfibers that pollute our oceans and are almost impossible to recover.

When added to a fabric, CiCLO becomes a part of the molecular structure of unnatural materials like polyester in the production process. In turn, it transforms that material into one that can be digested by microbes in “end of life” environments, such as landfills, sea water, soil, and sludge.

“The CiCLO additive allows a garment, or a CiCLO microfiber that ends up in the environment, to biodegrade in three-and-a-half to five years, as compared to polyester, which takes 120 years or more to biodegrade,” said Smyre. “We really don’t know [exactly how long] at this point because polyester was invented in the 1940s and it’s still around.”

The technology has been especially important in the development of sustainable PPE (personal protective equipment), as over 8 billion tons of single use masks and isolation gowns have already ended up in our environment.

Golf as a whole has a lot of work to do in the sustainability category, but every effort helps in reducing the footprint of the game. When it comes to textiles and apparel, reducing consumption is the most sustainable practice, but if you are going to purchase new pieces, paying attention to fabric sourcing and the biodegradability of the piece is the next most environmentally friendly option. Whether the fabrics are made from recycled materials or have an additive that reduces the probability of ending up in a landfill for the next century—like CiCLO—there are a variety of ways golfers can contribute to a more eco-friendly golf community.
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