Detroit Lions debut jerseys made from recycled plastics

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When you want folks to take notice, slap some neon on your initiative. And then put a NFL quarterback in said neon.

On Aug. 6, the Detroit Lions will turn their training camp into a full-blown environmental sustainability push, highlighted by the team’s quarterbacks trading in their traditional red practice jerseys for neon green uniform tops made from recycled plastic bottles.

Unifi-made Repreve fabric, the same yarns made from recycled plastics seen in major brands such as Quiksilver, The North Face, Patagonia, Haggar, Roxy and Volcom, will get a football feel at Ford Field. The brightly adorned jerseys are each made from 21 recycled plastic bottles.

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Repreve turned more than 740 million recycled bottles into fiber in 2013, the company says. In its process, it takes the used plastic, cleans, chops and melts it into “little plastic chips.” From there, the chips get turned into recycled fiber used to make fabric.

Fans attending the training camp will receive towels made from three recycled bottles, along with other Repreve-based items.

The Lions will spend the season asking fans to “Make the Smart Throw” and recycle plastics. Adding 500 recycling bins throughout Ford Field will help the cause of reaching a target of a 100 percent recycling rate during the 2014 season, the team says.

The Lions’ slate of quarterbacks won’t be the only on-field personnel dropping tradition in favor of green. The blue and silver of the coaching staff and even on-field equipment will also come alive in neon green on Aug. 6, during the open public practice at Ford Field.

Using recycled plastics in uniform construction isn’t a new piece, though. For more than four years major brands, such as Nike and adidas, have utilized recycled plastic fabric in soccer kits, upping the recycled content so that national team World Cup kits have nearly 100 percent recycled plastics in the jersey and 100 percent recycled content in the shorts.

Turning everything neon to highlight a team wide initiative proves quite colorful, though. Plus, the green won’t be hard for defensive players to spot.

Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and gear for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.