People talk about being green and sustainable. Companies and organizations spend millions of dollars a year promoting their sustainability policies. But the practice of "green washing," or claiming to be more eco-friendly than you actually are, is the unfortunate result when the talk does not match the action. In order to practice what you preach, the medium needs to equal the message. In other words, if you are going to communicate your sustainable practices, it should be done in a sustainable manner.
T-shirts are a good place to start, since they are a global communication channel. Most people own at least one T-shirt, and most T-shirts are printed with some sort of message or brand. For companies, organizations and individuals looking to establish or protect their green reputations, T-shirts are an easy, fun and effective way to put your values to work at minimal cost.
The trick is to avoid falling into the "green vs. sustainable" trap. It's an understandable oversight, but socially responsible consumers, investors, journalists and thought leaders are more aware of the distinction, and they are growing more vocal about who is credible and "walking the talk." For example, organic cotton T-shirts are more environmentally friendly than regular cotton T-shirts, and therefore a greener choice. However, the amount of water resources required, the textile dyes used and the low wages associated with cotton apparel makes it harder to perceive of cotton T-shirts as sustainable. Full sustainability is a solution, not a lesser of two evils.
ECO360 Trust ( www.eco360.me) produces sustainable T-shirts made from 100% recycled PET plastic water bottles. ECO360 Trust is a campaign of the non-profit Institute for Sustainable Communication (http://sustaincom.org), which teaches sustainable business practices to communications professionals. The Institute (ISC) gives workshops about recycling, supply chain management and other environmental topics, and ECO360 Trust raises money for the ISC's education program by producing e360t shirts, which are custom performance apparel made from recycled PET. All net proceeds pay for college scholarships for low income students.
Producing the e360t shirt began as a teaching tool for students to learn about sustainable print and digital media. Students helped create designs, and the ISC set up a sustainable supply chain. What began as a cool project for students grew into an interactive method for companies and non-profits to engage their employees while enhancing their green reputations.
It was also critical to separate the e360t shirts from the multitude of cheap (and environmentally harmful) T-shirts that companies and organizations give out as premiums for events. To reinforce the value of ethical clothing over gimmicks and freebies, ECO360 Trust created the e360t shirts to be high end, customized promotional garments for corporate and non-profit branding. The e360t shirts were designed to provide 5 distinct benefits:
First, the shirts are made out of 100% recycled PET, which is the same plastic from soda and water bottles. Each e360t shirt prevents at least 3 plastic bottles from being dumped in a landfill. Americans generate over 10 million tons of plastic waste annually, but recycle less than 2% of it. A lot of that waste ends up in landfills or in the ocean.
Second, the e360t shirts save fresh water. The shirts are printed with digital technology, so no fresh water at all is used to dye the fabric. Each e360t shirt saves 8 gallons of fresh water from being polluted with the dyes and chemicals used to grow and dye cotton. The printing process keeps the shirts colorfast and durable, and the colors do not bleed. There is much less waste since fewer materials are used.
Third, the e360t shirts create American jobs. The sewing is done in small American factories that pay a living wage and give workers opportunities for social mobility. Global sustainability includes the health and well being of workers, and respect for human rights and safe working conditions are central to the ISC's mission. Unfortunately the true costs of most cotton T-shirts are higher than their actual price because of sweatshop labor and starvation wages.
Fourth, the e360t shirts fund college scholarships for low income students. Each shirt is a tax deductible contribution, and all the net proceeds pay for micro scholarships for high achieving but economically disadvantaged college students. Many students are the first in their families to attend college, and they are eager to participate in the American dream.
Lastly, the e360t shirts help companies, non-profits and individuals improve their credibility by putting their sustainability commitment into practice. For companies, the shirts are an inexpensive way to keep their brand messages consistent with their sustainability policies.
All the shirts are customized, so any company or organization can put their individual message, brand or design on the e360t shirts. Wearing your values on your sleeve now has a new meaning! And putting your green and sustainable beliefs into practice has never been easier.
To learn more about the ECO360 Trust Campaign, please visit www.eco360.me, or call 718-705-4907. Let's all have a more sustainable year!
This press release is presented without editing for your information. MOTHER EARTH NEWS does not recommend, approve or endorse the products and/or services offered. You should use your own judgment and evaluate products and services carefully before deciding to purchase.