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Hanes: Successful Corporate Social Responsibility in a Sweatshirt

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Eco-Friendly—Did you know that when Jyl was in Florida recently, she wore a sweatshirt made from recycled plastic bottles? Did you even know that sweatshirts—comfortable ones—can be made from plastic? Well, they can, as demonstrated by Hanes, a brand that has pledged to reduce the environmental impact of the raw materials they use in their products and product packaging. The sweatshirts are made from their EcoSmart® polyester fiber, which is made from recycled plastic bottles, and some of their socks contain EcoSmart cotton yarn made directly from textile cutting waste.

Wearing an everyday item of clothing and knowing that you are supporting, by your purchase of that clothing, business practices that make for a more sustainable earth is a unique feeling. To be comfortable while wearing that sweatshirt and to know that you have contributed to a brand that is striving to be both successful and environmentally smart and succeeding is a good feeling.

Says Hanes, on their Corporate Social Responsibility site, "The vast majority of our production material is cotton, which can have significant environmental impacts. We buy nearly all of our cotton for internal production from the United States, in part because the advanced farming methods used by U.S. cotton farmers result in lower impacts on the environment." Cotton has also gotten quite costly lately, doubling in price since August of 2010, so much so that Hanes is also testing flax as a viable partial-replacement material in most of its products. Perhaps the move to make their products out of less expensive substances like flax and recycled plastic really does make both economic and environmental sense.

Cotton plant

Since most of their products are made for either intimate or active wear, and known for their comfortableness, the proof of whether or not their "social responsibility" efforts will succeed is yet to come. Jyl was definitely pleased with her sweatshirt, noting that it was "sooooooo soft." If the wealth of data and information on the Corporate Social Responsibility website is any indication, they are doing much more than competitors like Fruit of the Loom. Hanes reports that they have decreased total waste consumption at all their factories worldwide by 9.2% in the past year, carbon dioxide emissions by more than 12%, and water consumption by more than 16%. They also recycle 71% of their own waste. While these statistics are not independently confirmed, they are far more than Fruit of the Loom provides, lending credence through transparency.

These are some things to think about the next time you are considering which brand of underwear to buy, or trying to find an easy way to be nice to Mother Earth.

Photo of bottle courtesy of

Photo of cotton courtesy of

What are some of your favorite items that have been made from recycling efforts?

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