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.”
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)
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.