According to most historians, Benjamin Law manufactured the first-ever cloth containing ‘post-consumer’ recycled wool (throwaway clothing). He did this in secret around 1813, based at a small mill on the outskirts of Batley, West Yorkshire, England. For the next 150 years, the surrounding area imported clothing and textile factory waste from across the world, converting this ‘waste’ into a raw material to reduce the cost of new wool whilst manufacturing woollen cloth. This industry transformed the region that became known as the ‘heavy woollen district’. Small hamlets turned into thriving towns and cities containing many hundreds of rag sorters, textile waste merchants, reclaimed fibre (shoddy and mungo) manufacturers, providing fibres for woollen (yarn & cloth) manufacturers. This activity became known as the ‘shoddy and mungo’ trade; the first ever large-scale textile ‘circular economy’.
Read more about the history of wool recycling in Yorkshire, England HERE.
In 1989, John Parkinson co-founded Evergreen, emerging from his small family business, recycling wool. Evergreen’s aim was to make textiles with the most responsible materials and methods. They supplied some forward-thinking high street retailers, small-scale designers, artisans and charities, but a fire forced its closure in 1995.
During the Evergreen years, John worked out that if everyone in the UK bought just one woollen product each year but chose recycled wool made in Yorkshire, on average it would save approximately:
Despite a break of 25 years, to re-build lives and careers following this devastating fire, the work is still not over and has been re-started through iinouiio.
The company aims to maintain the Evergreen legacy and the heritage of skills and knowledge through iinouiio. The products offered are made using traditional Yorkshire wool recycling techniques to provide truly authentic and unique materials. "We are so proud - even giddy - for sharing this passion with all our website and social media visitors."