ARE THEY GREENWASHING OR NOT?
REVIEWING BRANDS' SUSTAINABILITY CLAIMS
We use our expertise and digital sleuthing to analyze brands' sustainability claims and determine if they are greenwashing.
SUMMARY OF OUR OPINION ON PACT
PACT is primarily focusing on organic cotton and Fairtrade certified production. This is a relatively young brand – I believe it began in 2009 – but I was surprised how minimal the sustainability information on the site was.
Besides their mention of those two areas of focus, they only have fluffy marketing claims like this example from their men’s section: “You’re a one-of-a-kind dude (or girl who likes to kick it in menswear), and we have mad respect for that. It’s why we wouldn’t dare settle for anything less than 100% organic cotton in our clothes. Ethically sourced. Free of toxic dyes, pesticides and chemicals. Made for everyone who wants to unleash what’s underneath in complete and total comfort and consciousness.” Their FAQ has slightly more, but not much. And further Google searching didn’t find anything specific.
I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, but they didn’t have any other leadership claims or commitments, they don’t seem to be collaborating with any industry groups, they are not B Corp certified, they have no third-party certifications, and have very little other information. I would have at least wanted them to mention their solutions to addressing climate change – i.e., carbon reduction or offsets.
Also, sites like this one are helpful, but give me pause since it doesn’t do any additional analysis on the company. Just be careful when you’re not thoroughly reviewing their practices yourself.
WHAT TO ASK OF PACT
We know that brands respond when they hear from their customers. So, we always recommend you contact brands' sales or support lines to share your interest in their sustainability practices. And if you want to see them improve, ask them:
1. Thank you for your organic cotton and Fairtrade certified production. Can you please share more information about both of those, most especially any third-parties that certify your GOTS and Fairtrade efforts?
2. Also, have you considered becoming a certified B Corporation?
Here’s their contact information:
• Customer support: 800-662-7228
• Email: https://wearpact.com/contact-us
Do you know something I didn’t find? Tell me and I’ll update this.
Details of PACT's sustainability efforts
I focus on five elements of a leading sustainability program: (1) Sustainable leadership, (2), Sustainable materials, (3) Sustainable production, (4) Sustainable quality, and (5) Sustainable transparency. In each category, I post their claims, as well as the substantiation (proof) if any is provided. In some cases, I also include a brief analysis of my own.
01 SUSTAINABLE LEADERSHIP
Certified B Corporation: PACT is not a B Corporation.
Sustainability executives: Not clear if any employees at Pela have a specific focus on sustainability.
Sustainable commitments: None provided.
Sustainability collaboration: None provided.
Claim: “we offer ways to recycle…or reuse your old clothing, towels and linens, which frees you to consume consciously” // Substantiation: No details provided. // Analysis: It was very difficult to find that they’re partnered with Give Back Box (https://wearpact.com/campaign/givebackbox). Since it didn’t seem to be advertised, I’m not sure it is still running.
02 SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS
Claim: “We source only the best 100% organic cotton, grown without fertilizers and crafted without harmful chemicals while saving gallons of water on every item we make. It’s part of our sustainability commitment, and one we’ve held since 2009. Organic cotton always and ever.” // Substantiation: “The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibers, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain. The standards are very high and we constantly ensure that we meet and exceed these standards.” // Analysis: GOTS is one of the strongest standards for organic cotton.
Claim: “Organic cotton uses up to 95% less water than conventional cotton during the wash phase and doesn’t contain the harsh chemicals, bleaches or dyes that conventional cotton uses. Additionally, conventional cotton often requires the use of chemical-laden pesticides that increases the debt burden on the farmer and leaches into the land and water. So not only is PACT organic clothing so super soft that you’ll never want to wear anything else, but your new t-shirt is also better for the environment and good for the people who played a part in making it.” // Analysis: Yes, organic cotton is generally better than conventional cotton. The specific water and chemical use reductions depend on the growing region and methods. So it would be helpful if PACT said where they source their cotton from.
Claim: “Elastane is a variant of Spandex, which is a synthetic fiber known for its exceptional elasticity and awesome applications in apparel production. In fact, stats show that an estimated 80% of clothing sold in the U.S. contain Spandex.” // Analysis: This only appeared in the FAQ. I understand and value the functional attributes of synthetic fibers, so I don’t want to immediately discount them for this, but it does run counter to the primary messages spread throughout their site.
Packaging: No information provided about their packaging.
03 SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION
Claim: “Fair Trade Factory Certified ensures that the people who craft our clothing and home goods are treated fairly and provided with additional income to invest in their communities.” // Substantiation: “If our product can bear the Fair Trade logo, then it will! Fair Trade Certification isn’t applicable in certain countries that already have union and wage protection in place for workers. No matter where your PACT item is made, you can rest assured knowing that all our clothing is manufactured in safe facilities and is always sweatshop-free and child-labor-free.” // Analysis: Fairtrade Certification is helpful to know that products are being produced in more ethical conditions. Again, more information, including a third-party validation, regions of production, etc., could be valuable to further substantiate this.
Chemicals: “zero harmful chemicals” // Substantiation: None provided.
Water usage: “processes that use significantly less water than conventional cotton” // Substantiation: None provided.
Shipping: No information provided.
04 SUSTAINABLE QUALITY
Claim: “We recommend a cold-water wash for our products and tumble dry on low. This saves energy, and will ensure the longest life possible for your clothes, especially anything that contains elastane.” // Analysis: This is positive since products designed to be cleaned with cold water can significantly minimize the lifecycle impacts of those products.
We need to understand how long their products last – the higher-quality and longer-lasting, the better its sustainability profile.
05 SUSTAINABLE TRANSPARENCY
Sustainability report: None provided.
Website: Very basic information is accessible on its website.
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