For Father’s Day this year, I was given a beautiful long-sleeve polo shirt. Since I’ve announced my reluctance to buy stuff, including clothing, it was nice to have a new addition to my “wardrobe”. Things do wear out, and perhaps, everyone is tired of seeing me wear the same things over and over. Regardless, it was a nice gift I was happy to receive it.
The shirt’s label revealed it was made by a company, Marine Layer, using the product name “Re-Spun”. The label further explained “You gave us worn-out tees and we re-spun them into what you’re about to wear. Cheers to keeping textiles out of landfills – one tee at a time.” Looking at the company’s web-site, I learned Marine Layer accepts old-tee shirts (and pays for the shipping) and uses those tees to make new ones. The new “re-spun” material is 25% “upcycled” (i.e., donated and broken down) cotton; 35% recycled plastic (e.g., plastic water bottles); and 45% Tencel Lyocell (made from the wood pulp of Eucalyptus trees). Using this new, repurposed fabric, “new” clothing is made. Where is it made? “Most of our stuff comes from SF or LA, where some of the best knits in the world are made. For some of the more technical styles, we turn to sewers overseas that work in the same ethical and sustainable factories we’d use here.”
Across all product lines, including Re-Spun, Marine Layer’s fabrics were made from 75% sustainable materials in 2019. In 2020 they expect that level will grow to 81%. Their objective: “to maximize our use of fabrics that minimize our environmental impact”. Marine Layer is a company I can do business with and not feel guilty about harming our planet, if I really need something, and I can get a $5 credit for every tee I send them (up to five).
More and more companies are developing new techniques and materials to minimize the environmental impact of their products. Nothing New is a small sneaker company that manufactures a sustainable sneaker brand with uppers and laces made entirely out of 100% recycled post-consumer plastic. Each pair of shoes utilizes the equivalent of 5.6 recycled plastic water bottles. The other parts of the shoes are made from recycled fishing nets, recycled rubber, recycled cork, and when virgin materials are used, they are sourced from certified conflict-free areas. Sent them your old sneakers and receive a $20 credit toward a new pair. If only Nike and Adidas would adopt this approach, a whole lot more plastic water bottles would be eliminated from the oceans.
Scanning the internet for eco-friendly or sustainable products provides a wealth of information and many sites have evaluated the claims of products so you won’t get fooled by products claiming to be “green”. The Good Housekeeping Institute issues its Green Good Housekeeping Seal based on the product’s environmental impact. Other established certification seals include EcoCert Cosmos for organic cosmetics, Fair Trade Certified ingredients, or GreenGuard Certified products. And many organizations provide lists of top eco-friendly products. For example, The Good Housekeeping Institute recently announced its 40 top eco-friendly products including personal care products, home cleaning products, clothing, travel accessories, kitchen accessories, personal hygiene, bedding, home paint, and toys.
You can also shop by brands. Some of the better-known eco-friendly brands include Seventh Generation (cleaning products), Patagonia (clothing), Cuyana (travel accessories, apparel), Nisolo (shoes and leather accessories), Reformation (women’s clothing and accessories), Toms Shoes, and Rothy’s (shoes and accessories). And if you Google “Eco-Friendly Brands”, you’ll realize this list is far from complete.
In last week’s post, A Local Economy, I discussed the virtues of doing business within your local community as compared to supporting the global economy. Without repeating those arguments, I felt it worth noting some of the companies that provide “Made In America” products. Clark.com recently published a list of 100+ “Made In America” Brands & Stores; the list and details are organized by: Clothing (56); Denim & Jeans (6); Handbags, Accessories & Jewelry (33); Shoes & Footwear (26); Beauty & Personal Care (18); Cookware & Home (43); Furniture (35); Electronics (7); Tools (16); and Other (47). And as you research your options, you’ll see some of these companies may be local to your community. So, if you can’t find a suitable product that is eco-friendly, you can certainly find one that is made in the U.S.A. and supports our national economy.
Last year in Our Fashionable Planet, I noted that the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of all humanity’s carbon emissions – and that the fashion industry is the second largest consumer of the world’s water supplies – and things are getting worse. Bottom line, all of us can be better shoppers by buying only the products we really need. And we can select those products – whether clothing or other items – that do the minimum damage to our planet, whether by using sustainable materials, recycled materials, eco-friendly packaging, or simply those products made closer to our community. The impact of better choices we make will add up, and will make a big difference as more of us change our purchasing habits.
All of this shopping data can seem overwhelming and may tempt us to just keep doing what we’re doing. It’s easier, and besides, will all this eco-friendly shopping really make a difference? Truth is, it will, and as more of us begin making eco-friendly purchases, our vendors and suppliers will notice, and it will become easier. I started last year and many of the eco-friendly products I tried for the first time are now automatic. I’ve learned which ones I like and where I can purchase them. I feel good about the difference, albeit small, I’m making because I know it is the right thing to do. And not for just me, but for the generations that will follow me. Among the first eco-friendly products I tried were shampoo and deodorant from by Humankind and a shaving soap from Shea. For a year and a half, I have been very satisfied.
My challenge to all of you, so you won’t feel overwhelmed, is to pick one product you need to purchase – say a personal care product or cleaning product, or an item of clothing, and make the change this week. Just this one change, and if you like it, stick to it. Consider adding another eco-friendly product next week, and if you like it, stick to it. And as we approach the holiday season, consider giving an eco-friendly gift to a love one or friend. They’ll appreciate it, and maybe they’ll be inspired to follow your example. I know I really appreciated the gift I received for Father’s Day. Thank You!