Introducing: United by Blue

Industry: Clothing/Accessories

Certifications: Certified B Corps (110)

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Founded in 2010, United By Blue (UBB) has come onto the scene as a leader in environmentally responsible business. Their company philosophy reads, “We created United By Blue with the idea that a successful outdoor brand can do serious conservation work. This means everyone here at United By Blue is rolling up their sleeves and removing plastic bottles, styrofoam, tires, old appliances, you name it from creeks, rivers, beaches, and streams. We organize and host cleanups to make a measurable impact on the most pressing of environmental problems: ocean trash and plastics pollution.”

Environmental Stewards

Sourcing: United By Blue (UBB) is a steward of the land and of our oceans. Stewardship is an ethic that embodies the responsible planning and management of resources. By holding their suppliers to specific standards, they ethically source their materials which consist of recycled polyester, organic cotton, and wool. (though there have been some competing views on the ethics and sustainability of wool)

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picture source: https://unitedbyblue.com/pages/philosophy

Manufacturing: Along with sustainable material sourcing, all of their manufacturers have facilities that implement techniques to reduce their footprint and all must use fair-wage practices with workers. The location of production is another important element to consider when evaluating a product’s sustainability. All of UBB’s graphic tees and socks are made in the US, as well as some of their standard tees, fleece, jackets and chambray shirts. The bulk of their other products (bags, dresses, pants, etc) are made in Asia where the necessary materials and skills are best sourced. Aside from their product life cycle, they also offer their employees paid time off for community service, and over 75 percent of their office supplies are made from recycled content, adding to their environmental prestige.

By The Numbers:

A rediculous 8 million tons of plastic enter oceans each year. That is equivalent to the weight of 137 fully staffed cruise ships. Plastic bottles alone make up 1.5 million tons of plastic waste annually. Plastics and other litter ultimately end up in the world’s gyres, or circulating ocean currents, and can turn into dense vortexes of trash. The most famous marine trash heap, The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is thought to be at least as large as twice the size of Texas (540,000 sq. miles), with larger estimates coming in at twice the size of the continental United States(!!!), either way that’s a lot of garbage.

 

Leaving A Handprint

A great concept coined by the International Living Future Institute’s Living Product Challenge is the idea of the “handprint”, which looks at the positive impact an organization’s product causes across its life cycle. United By Blue leaves their handprint through company organized cleanups. These cleanups are responsible for the removal of 995,291 pounds of trash out of our Earth’s waterways, during a total of 177 cleanups, across 26 states, equivalent to 900 full pick up trucks or 4 blue whales worth of trash. In 2016 alone they removed 675,396 pounds of trash over the course of 36 company organized cleanups. This suggests their brand is beginning to grow pretty substantially, which will make our marine life a lot happier and healthier.

You can shop United By Blue products on their – website – or through  – Amazon

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Introducing: Sword & Plough

Industry: Clothing/Accessories

Cost Comparison: Slightly more expensive than competitors

Certifications: N/A 

Location: Denver, CO

To turn swords into plough shares…

Sword & Plough originates from the saying, “To turn swords into plough shares.” which is to take military technologies and materials and apply them to peaceful civilian applications. Through recycling and repurposing military fabrics, Sword & Plough provides consumers with products that are purposeful and fashionable.

Started by sisters Emily and Betsy Cavnes, Sword & Plough incorporates veterans into every stage of their business including designers, managers, sewers, quality control experts and even models. Through its branding and outreach, Sword & Plough helps bridge the civil-military divide.

Signature Product

Sword & Plough has a unique line of artfully crafted bags and accessories made from repurposed military surplus with a fashionable touch. 

Average Bag Cost: $220

4 Pillars of Social Impact

Sword & Plough doesn’t just talk the talk when it comes to their commitment to creating social impact, they walk the walk. Social impact is literally written into the founding documents of the company and is the core of their products, brand and identity. 

People: Supports and creates veteran job opportunities within the company and also within their suppliers and partners. Additionally, they support veteran entrepreneurship by partnering with veteran owned businesses.

Purpose: Co-founders Emily and Betsy often speak publicly on the topics of veteran employment and the civil-military divide. To further educate consumers, each product carries an information card describing the social impact initiatives for closing the civil-military divide and supporting veterans and veteran organizations as well as social media activity dedicated to veteran support and awareness.. 

Planet: Repurposes military surplus such as tents, sleeping bag covers, uniform fabric, military spec canvas and nylon, and any other material available. Since launching in 2013, more than 25,000 pounds of military surplus have been sourced, reducing the huge quantities of water, energy, fertilizers, pesticides and emissions involved in manufacturing new textiles. In addition to up-cycling surplus fabrics, they also use 100% domestic sourcing of all fabrics and leather in order to reduce fuel consumption and emissions during transport.

Profit: Donates 10% of after-tax profits to organizations that support veterans. Specifically, they support veteran employment, veteran health, and civil-military understanding. The Got Your 6 Campaign (organized and run by Be The Change, Inc.) is Sword & Plough’s primary giving partner. The Got Your Six Campaign creates significant and measurable impact in six key areas of veteran civil reintegration: Jobs, Health, Family, Education, Housing, and Leadership.

You can shop Sword & Plough products here on their website  

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