Coyuchi service will divert cotton from landfills

David Briggs
RENEWED: Coyuchi has launched a subscription service that caters to the ecologically minded.  

Coyuchi, the Point Reyes Station-based organic bedding company, sells tens of thousands of pounds of organic cotton each year; once used, some of it inevitably winds up in a landfill. But the company has a creative solution: a new subscription service in which customers pay a monthly fee to receive new sheets and towels on an ongoing basis. In turn, they return used products to be renewed, upcycled or recycled. “People are predisposed to want what is new,” said Eileen Mockus, the company’s C.E.O. “But when I put my on sustainability hat, it’s clear that we need to figure out a way to meet that demand while not having all the resources go to waste. These materials just end up in a landfill otherwise.” In the pilot program, called Coyuchi for Life, subscribers can choose to renew their products every six, 12 or 24 months—intervals at which Ms. Mockus says most customers already buy their linens—at an overall discounted cost. When the company sends customers their newest sheet or towel sets, customers return the old ones, which is where Coyuchi’s partner in the program, Renewal Workshop, comes in. The Oregon-based company cleans and fixes any flaws on the products, which are resold under a “renewed” label. Ms. Mockus said keeping the bedding in its original configuration retains the highest market values; products that cannot be renewed will be upscaled into new products or recycled “back into the yarn.” (She explained that while organic cotton is a great material to recycle, as there aren’t any unexpected additives, the product can no longer be considered organic after it’s recycled, since the old cotton is blended with new cotton in a complicated process that involves non-organic materials.) Ms. Mockus expects the idea to “take off” in the industry. Coyuchi, founded in the early 90s by former Inverness resident and West Marin school teacher Christine Nielson, is credited with introducing organic linens to the United States; she sold the business in 2008. Following closely in her mother’s footsteps, Ms. Nielson’s daughter, Mariah Nielson, co-created a line of clothing and accessories “based on historical and contemporary originals.” The company, Permanent Collection, will have a pop-up trunk show open to the public at Coyuchi in July.

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