Sometimes we're sneaky about our environmentalism. It's a huge part of why we do what we do, but it's not necessarily why you love our undies so much. So, we keep some things on the D.L. so as to keep the panty party light and fun.
But this Earth Day, we thought, why not shed some light on the thought that went into some of our decisions. And also share the ones that we're still not sure about. Maybe you have an opinion that could help?
Our fashion industry is deeply flawed; so many garments end up polluting (whether during the manufacturing process or when they're being disposed of after their life-cycle); we've talked about it here (most recently) and here (several years ago). So while our undies aren't perfect (because what is perfect?), we do our best to make eco-forgiving choices in every step of our interactions.
Here are a few of the reasons you should feel good today if you're wearing your Upitees:
- We use repurposed tshirts as the raw materials. These are tees that have already had a happy life and would likely end up in landfills or on container ships destined for landfills on other continents. We thrift them; we have relationships with certain organizations that would otherwise just pitch their unworn tees, left over from events and whatnot; or, we take your favorite tees and turn them into your new favorite undies. Regardless, we're making sure these garments get a little more wear (literally, albeit in another form), before their life cycle is through.
What 20 pounds of tshirts looks like. :)
- The screen print inks we use on the undies are all water-based, rather than plastisol (plastic/oil based). There are still a lot of chemicals that go in to the inks and the screen printing process, but ours are doing their best to be environmentally friendly and aren't starting with fossil fuels.
- The elastic we use in our undies is made from rubber and cotton. Both things that grow. We made a decision several years back to stop using elastic made from polyester and rubber because polyester is a petroleum based product and therefore a non-renewable resource. It was a tough decision because the poly-blend elastic lasted 10+ years, and the cotton stuff doesn't last as long (4-6 years). Since then, we've also learned that cotton farming uses a lot of pesticides, and farming in general uses a lot of fossil fuels, so this is something we still mull over from time to time. Is it more sustainable to use elastic that needs to be replaced more frequently, but is made of natural materials or is it more sustainable to use elastic that is made from non-renewable resources but lasts longer?
Regardless, if you find yourself with undies that don't hug you like they used to, send us an email and we'll replace the elastic for you, to help you get more life out of these puppies.
- Speaking of puppies: did you know that we do repairs? So whether your dog ate them (yep, we've repaired undies subjected to such an unceremonious fate), or whether our bobbin was wonky (it happens occasionally...), we'll send you a prepaid envelope to return them for free repairs. We know purchasing Upitees is an investment, and we're committed to being with you for the life of your undies. And to extending that life when we can. It's a way that society used to think about clothing, but is more foreign these days. This is our role in the revival ;)
- We do our best to keep our scraps out of landfills. The undies we make aren't zero-waste, but we give all our scraps to local fabric recyclers so that the textile waste we make is also given another chance to live on (it can be chopped up into smaller pieces for insulation and things like that).
- We use recycled shipping materials when we can, and our new shipping envelopes are made from 50% post-consumer waste. Hooray!
- We pay our contractors at least a living wage (as determined through this calculator). I can't make all the undies by myself any more (and so many thanks for your support in helping us grow!), so a wonderfully eclectic and talented group of ladies helps me here and there. And each of them earns a living wage, which helps support safe working conditions, our local economy, American manufacturing, and places a vote with your dollars against sweatshops, where most other undies are made. Which seems pretty fantastic for the earth. Plus, our living wage helps make sure they care about your undies as much as you and I do ;)
When you wear your Upitees, not only do you get superbly fitting skivvies, it's like you're wearing your "I voted" sticker for environmentally-conscious and socially-conscious handmade manufacturing goodness. Plus, there's a party in your pants! And we think that's something to celebrate this Earth Day.
Here's to all the choices we all make for the good of the Earth.
P.S. Now if you're feeling awesome about all the good you do when you get dressed in the morning starting with Upitees, and want to learn more about fashion's impact on the environment, I highly recommend Overdressed; and Fashion Revolution (this is a great overview from the Huffington Post), home of #whomademyclothes; there's also this facebook group, which, while new (and started by a store owner whole will be carrying Upitees soon!) seems pretty fantastic. If you have favorite resources, please comment below!
Sale! Turn Your Tees Into Undies
P.P.S. Does all this goodness have you thinking about some tees you've got that you want to turn into undies? Well, you're in luck, because we're running an Earth Day special on undies made from your tees through the end of the month (in case you haven't done your spring cleaning yet. Check out details here.)
Note: In doing research for this blog post I learned that only about 42% of rubber produced annually is natural; the rest is made from petrochemicals. So, I'm on the hunt to find out which is in the elastic we use. I'll keep you posted!
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