by John Russel Jones

Smartwool, which creates Merino wool-based socks and apparel, has relaunched its Second Cut Project, aiming to collect 400,000 old socks through the brand’s annual retail take-back event. 

A recent Smartwool survey showed that most consumers do not participate in apparel recycling programs, either because they’re unaware of how to recycle or the resources are not available, or because the item is completely worn out and they perceive it to have no value. This April Smartwool wants to educate and encourage people to adopt better recycling habits, by sending in their old socks to participate in the Second Cut Project.

Smartwool first announced the Second Cut Project in April 2021 to help address the apparel industry’s textile waste problem: only 12% of clothing materials are recycled globally, and socks are one of the most thrown-away pieces of apparel. Last year’s sock take-back collection kept over 12,000 pounds of material out of landfills, and together with North Carolina-based Material Return, Smartwool turned that waste into the Second Cut K9 Camp Cushion

The company will continue its partnership with Material Return, a custom circularity platform within The Industrial Commons group delivering local and sustainable textile manufacturing and waste solutions. 

“With the relaunch of our Second Cut Project, we are one step closer towards achieving our 100% circularity pledge by 2030,” said Alicia Chin, Sustainability & Social Impact Senior Manager, Smartwool. “We are committed to finding innovative ways of manufacturing to limit our impact on the environment, and the Second Cut Project allows consumers to aid in our progress by visiting our retail partners to recycle their socks.”

“Not only is recycling good for the environment—it’s good for the economy,” said Molly Hemstreet, Co-Executive Director of The Industrial Commons. “Recycling utilizes a domestic source of materials and supports American jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries—which underlines how environmental habits can support both people and the planet. We are focused on local solutions for industrial problems—the Second Cut Project with Smartwool is a perfect example of community-based problem-solving in action.”

Smartwool will kick off its take-back collection at participating retail stores nationwide from April 11–24. Participants can also send in any brand of old socks for recycling by selecting a free mail-in bag on