This Company Makes Rain Gear From Recycled and Natural Materials

Baxter Wood brings innovation to a market that's been stagnant for too long.

Baxter Wood rain coats

Baxter Wood is a rain gear company with a noble mission – to stem the tide of plastic waste in low-income countries. It does this in a number of ways. First, its waterproof products use no virgin synthetic materials. Their gender-inclusive coats are made from 100% recycled PET, which comes from plastic bottles. Each jacket contains 22 bottles' worth of material. 

"Most raincoats are made from PVC or simply put polymers from petroleum... Most people might know Rothys for tackling sustainability with slip-ons, and Allbirds for bringing to life the sustainable sneaker. We believe what was left to be improved are rain boots, so we went ahead and made rain boots out of 100% renewable materials, with our rubber coming from hevea rubber trees (and not petroleum-based)."
Baxter Wood founders
Company founders Sarah Smith and Kweku Larbi.
Baxter Wood

Larbi shares the view I've expressed before on Treehugger, that upcycling plastic only makes sense when it's contained in an item that does not have to be laundered frequently, causing it to shed plastic microfibers into the wash water. I liked his use of the word "hideout," as if the jacket is a secure location for old plastic:

"Did you know every piece of plastic ever made still exists? We had to put post-consumer plastics to use, and our raincoats are the perfect hideout, building them into a coat that will depend on the natural waterproof, and durability characteristics of plastic, but also maximizing the quantities of plastic bottles used per coat as our silhouette styling permits. It’s a win-win for us and the planet."

 Baxter Wood rain boots


The company's environmental focus doesn't stop with its own goods. It also accepts all old rubber boots for recycling, giving customers a pre-paid shipping label and a $30 credit. These boots go to Michigan, where they're shredded and turned into a range of items from playground surfaces to roads to kickboxing bag fillers. "By using one tonne of rubber from recycled rubber rain boots to surface an arena, we’ll save three tonnes of C02 from being emitted into the atmosphere."

"One was a relic of a Hunter boot from the 1990s, with the printed logo on the shin. We decided to keep that as a memory of how long rubber boots stick around when they are not recycled... That boot was enough of a signal to us, informing us why we needed to recycle what we and others produce. It’s great to create, but equally important to uncreate."

Furthermore, the company donates a portion of proceeds to the charity 1% For Education, which provides education for children in developing countries.

Katherine Martinko, February 2021