Old clothes have been turned into home insulation and sold in French DIY stores

Old clothes have been turned into home insulation and sold in French DIY stores

French cotton fiber insulation made from recycled clothing is now available in sheets and rolls at DIY stores.

It’s made by Le Relais co-op, branded as Métisse, which was created to put the long-term unemployed back into work by reusing and recycling textiles.

Le Relais has a network of shops for second-hand clothes, but it also decided it could do something useful with donated clothes that were too damaged to be resold, by converting them into insulating materials.

Compliant with building standards

Its first product was loose insulation for attics, which was installed using air pumps. It has been well received and fully certified for use by merchants.

Le Relais claims there were no issues with building standards, which can often be significant brakes on the use of innovative green insulation.

The organization has since started making insulation in rolls and sheets.

said spokeswoman Amandine Fries link: “We’ve heard installers love it because it’s so easy to use, and it doesn’t have any of the scratching or irritation that often happens with insulation.

“If there are craftsmen who refuse to use it because it does not meet building standards, it is because they are not up to standard.”

She said the insulation was approved for MaPrimeRénov grants that were given by the government to try to improve the energy efficiency of homes.

However, grants are not available for people who self-isolate at home, although it is often much cheaper to do so than using a merchant on the MaPrimeRénov scheme.

Read more: Explanation: How to apply for a grant to renovate your French home

They cost more but they last longer

Le Relais has two sales channels to seclude it: one to merchants and one to individuals, which has recently included large hardware stores such as Castorama.

In terms of price, insulation from recycled clothing is two to three times more expensive than traditional glass wool insulation. However, it is lower than some other “green” types of insulation, such as foam board.

“The price is higher than glass wool, but Métisse lasts longer without damping off, and is easier to handle,” said Technical Director Stéphane Bailey.

When glass wool gets wet, usually after 10 to 15 years, it loses up to half of its insulating properties.

Métisse sheets and rolls do not contain a paper vapor barrier, which must be added by the installer to exterior walls or when used under roofs.

Unlike bulk insulation, which is 100% cotton, the rolls and sheets are made of 85% cotton and 15% polyester.

It is fire rated, without the use of boric salts, which some say are harmful to health, using a patented method developed by Le Relais.

The organization currently has one factory near Lille that makes insulation, employing 120 people.

charitable effort

Le Relais grew out of a branch of the Emmaüs charity, which was set up to help the homeless, and has collection boxes for vintage clothes in most French cities.

The clothes are sorted and sold in good condition through a chain of second-hand stores called Ding Fring.

Le Relais used to export used clothes to Africa but has now started recycling efforts in three countries instead. It was found that the export of used clothes put many local garment factories and tailors out of business.

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