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Credit: Rob Gill, Tangent Design

Mark Trotzuk, president of Ecoapparel.ca, acknowledges that the garment industry is very damaging to the planet, but the high-tech gear guru knows there’s no time to waste by laying blame. Instead, he’s firmly focused on making change.

Like a whirling dervish, the high-energy Trotzuk is on a full-circle journey to better his biz from the bottom up, and show other companies how to do the same.

Synthetic technical fabrics, like polyester, are all derived from petroleum, says Trotzuk, who spent two years researching and testing materials in his quest to find sustainable fabrics with the same hard-working qualities as their synthetic counterparts.

Ecoapparel.ca boasts a seven-fabric layering system (made from both natural and recycled fibres), which includes a bamboo base layer that has natural antimicrobial and wicking properties. Another inventive fabric, dubbed Cocona, uses naturally activated carbon derived from recycled coconut shells for moisture management.

Recycled plastic pop bottles are spun into yarn and woven into fleece jackets, but the company’s Eco Plasma-Schell jacket combines the best of natural and recycled fibres. “Let’s use this stuff that’s already on this planet, that’s already made,” says Trotzuk. “It’s all about recycling.”

Though his clothing is made from natural fibres such as bamboo and coconut, you won’t find Ecoapparel.ca manufacturing its wares in a banana republic. All the company’s high-tech gear is manufactured in Vancouver, right in the company’s Hastings Street offices. A third-party auditor visits the premises and interviews staff, assessing its sustainability. Though Ecoapparel.ca passes the audit every year, Trotzuk says there’s always room for improvement.

And improve he does. In 2008 Trotzuk plans to set up an in-house recycling program so that when your eco-apparel gets tired, the energetic entrepreneur will happily recycle it for you – and turn the fibres into next year’s gear.

Ecoapparel.ca clothing is available at Grouse Mountain Outfitters. Look for the Ecoapparel.ca and 1% For the Planet labels.