It was mid-summer in China, about 6 years ago. I was in the middle of my business trip to Asia, and I was walking to a sushi bar near my hotel. I saw a dog, a bright-green-colored dog, passing me by. Now I wonder why I didn’t, but seeing a green dog on the street didn’t shock me just yet.
The next morning, my guide was taking me to a sweater factory that I was doing business for the 1st time. The factory was located in the middle of the industrial town next to the city, and I remember it was very long drive from the hotel, more than a couple of hours.
As our car was getting into the industrial town, I started seeing many more dogs on the street with bright-green fur like the one I saw last night. I asked the guide in the front seat, “hey what is wrong with these dogs? Who dyed them all green?” He said, “they are just town dogs, there are no owners. No one dyed their hair. These dogs eat whatever on the street, and they drink water from the local stream that runs around the town. They probably picked up the green color from the local stream.” Then what he said shocked me. “This town is known for sweater yarn dye, and all these factories uses the local stream to dye the yarns. Thanks to the business boom in my town, we can predict which color will be the most popular color for the sweaters this season by looking at the color of the stream. Last year, pink was the most popular color, and all these dogs were in pink last year!” That was the 1st time I saw the environmental effect of the garment manufacturing, and it was the wake-up call for me.

After the trip, I started looking for more info on the environmental effect that irresponsible garment-manufacturing can bring. Here are a few things I noted myself.

  • Overall, garment manufacturing is 2nd most environment-polluting business right under the oil business. It’s not far below 2nd place either. Very close to 1st place.
  • Before we even start on how the most garments end their lives, let’s talk about micro-plastics we produce while washing our clothes. About a half million ton of micro-plastic bits annually. That would be equal to 3 billion polyester tees or 50 billion plastic bottles. Just from washing these man-made fibers such as poly or nylon.
  • Then there are the huge landfill issue that is being created by the garment manufacturing. In 2018, 17 million tons of textile wastes ended up in a landfill. This is just in here in America. Not the whole world.

  • Relentless pursuit of “better price point” in clothing. Lowering cost sometimes means innovation, but most of the time, it’s just reducing cost that deems to be “un-necessary”. It could be labor-cost sometimes, or material-cost, or quality-control cost. 30 years ago, the gas price in California was $1 something & the decent tee was about $24.99 at JC Penney. Now the gas price in California is over $4 something, and the decent tee cost about $16.99 at JC Penney. Innovations in manufacturing alone couldn’t achieve that. Instead, we have been using alternative materials with cheaper cost, for example, instead of natural wool, we have been using acrylic yarns, another form of plastic. Our environment hasn’t been the top priority.
That’s when I started dreaming of a clothing brand that is 100% plastic free, and that’s how American Classic 248 was born.

Regarding the plastic usage, there are a few rules with American Classic 248.

  • Our raw materials have no plastic content. All of our fabrics are made with 100% U. S. grown cottons. We are even holding off on spandex till someone makes the spandex bio-degradable material.
  • And we don’t use any recycled fibers such as recycled poly or nylon because it really doesn’t help environment anyway. I will talk about it in more details in another blog about recycled fibers.
  • We don’t use any plastic materials in packaging. That means we don’t use poly bags to package our products. Instead, we designed a custom box made of recycled papers to do the job.

There are lots of things I want American Classic 248 brand to be, and the most important thing to me would be being the brand that started the change on our dependencies in plastic fibers. At least until we have come up with more earth-friendly man-made fibers. It sounds like a long journey ahead, but I am ready. I hope you all can join me in this journey till we have evicted all plastic fibers from our clothing.

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