Pact’s new packaging with Vela bags brings them closer to using less and less plastic.
Brendan Sinnott, Pact’s founder and CEO, is not one to shy away from sustainability’s shortcomings. “If we all wanted to be totally sustainable, we might as well close up shop,” he says sarcastically.
It’s a harsh reality for brands who manufacture a product: There will inevitably be an impact on the planet. So, it’s a juggling act trying to weigh the positives and negatives that go along with creating and moving all that cargo around the world.
Pact, which specializes in organic cotton basics, has been following a number of ethical and sustainable practices since the company’s inception. But there was one problem Sinnott knew he had to solve: packaging materials.
“We get feedback from customers all the time about using plastic bags for our organic cotton underwear, especially when they ordered a 6-pack and received six different bags instead of just one. I completely understand. I know plastic is an issue. It is not good to wrap organic produce in a plastic bag. That’s not the message we want to convey,” he says.
But, he points out, solving the issue wasn’t as easy as he’d like because their products are fulfilled overseas at their partner facilities in India (where the organic cotton comes from and is turned into clothing).
Initially the company experimented with a recycled poly bag that Sinnott says didn’t work for them; It did not last long in overseas transit. Now, they note that the material has improved, but when they were trying it out, it wasn’t working and products were falling apart.
So this year, Pact has decided to opt for Vela bags made from paper, as they meet several criteria: transparent meaning orders are easier to fulfill, durable enough that it can travel internationally and last longer on shelves. can be kept on. Time-resistant, weather-resistant, and made from materials that are 100 percent curbside recyclable.
Pact’s gear in the Vela bag.
The Vela Bag, a product offered by packaging company Seaman Paper, is actually made with 60 percent post-consumer recycled waste, and is an FSC-certified paper-based solution to plastic.
Sinnott acknowledges that this switch is possible for them because they have a well-organized supply chain, working with select manufacturing and fulfillment partners. “There is a certain practicality with our supply chain that allows us to make this transition whereas it might be difficult for another brand working with multiple partners in different countries. Yet, we too were slow to move on,” he admits.
So it’s been a long journey for a sustainably minded brand to solve a problem that many consumers may think is a quick fix. Other eco-minded companies such as Mara Hoffman, Outercon and Faherty have also turned to the same product to reduce their plastic consumption.
“Plastic, let’s get it out of the system. It’s a chemical, and if we can get as much of it out of the system as possible that’s great. As a brand, we say ‘Plants wear, plastic No.’ Also, I don’t think consumers recycle it well. It’s not about reusing, it’s about reducing in my opinion,” he added.
Over the years, Pact has moved from selling in retailers across the US to a massive national chain: Whole Foods. Mostly, Sinnott’s approach is now direct-to-consumer. He says this allows the company to be more streamlined, tell a better story of their supply chain and eco-practices (like this one), and as a result, the brand isn’t as dependent on limited floor space at big-box retailers. .
Thus, this holiday season, Sinnott is asking consumers to “Gift Smarter” by supporting brands that are taking steps toward sustainability, particularly with apparel. “It’s one of the most popular gift items,” he notes. Therefore, Pact has partnered with Give Back Box to provide consumers with a way to send back used clothing if they want to fill out their wardrobe with new items.
“Nobody’s perfect on this journey. But we’re trying, and that’s what counts,” he says.