Had any Aquafina lately? A bottle of Dasani? Or maybe a Poland Spring or Fiji?
If you answered yes, you might be closer than you’d ever imagined to Steph Curry – or James Harden, or Joel Embiid or any of the other NBA All-Stars.
The reason? Your water bottle may have been recycled into their jerseys (Nike makes the jerseys, and the company says every uniform is made with about 20 bottles-worth of recycled plastic).
Now, if you’re wondering how a bottle of Poland Springs turns into a Philadelphia 76ers jersey (and that’s a reasonable thing to wonder), here’s a quick page from Recycling 101:
Plastic water bottles are made of a plastic called PET (polyethylene terephthalate, if you want to be formal) – a polyester (remember that). After you recycle your water bottle (remember, the NBA is counting on you!) – it joins all the other recycled bottles – the bottles are cleaned, chopped up, melted down – and run through something like a sieve (kind of like a spaghetti maker), to make long thin fibers – which gives us, polyester, the fabric!
Of course, that isn’t as easy as it sounds. Here’s a look at the challenges your water bottle has to meet (numbers from Nike): “During an average game, a player may cover more than four miles with full-speed bursts that last about 1.6 seconds. An athlete can change directions every two seconds, totaling 1,000 per game. Some jump up to 42 times with an average liftoff time of .16 seconds.”
Oh, and the same uniform design has to work for a player who is 6’8”, 250 pounds (LeBron) and a player who is 5’9”, 185 (Isaiah Thomas) – a player who is 42 years old (Vince Carter) and a player who is 19 (Luka Doncic).
But polyester made from xylene is a marvelous material up to the challenge. And recycling plastic into sportswear is a smart (re) use of that marvel. By the way, if you’d like to get in on that transformation, the folks at the NBA Store are ready to suit you up too. (Just remember, it will change your look, but umm, not your game.)
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