With the amount of marine plastic pollution expected to almost triple to 20 million metric tons by 2040, and packaging a dominant generator of plastic waste, there is mounting pressure on businesses to address the problem.
On August 13, California-based sustainable yoga and outdoor apparel brand prAna – established in 1992 and a pioneer in conscious fashion – announced the Responsible Packaging Movement (RPM), a program to create industry-wide change in packaging and inspire other fashion brands and consumers to do the same.
Through the RPM, prAna will share its learnings, best-practices, resources and offer advice through webinars and email communications and coordinate roundtable discussions.
This initiative comes on the back of a decade-long grassroots effort by prAna to reduce plastic waste and excess packaging. “In 2010, we received a photo from one of our store managers showing us a closet full of plastic bags, along with one simple question: What do you expect me to do with all of this?,” Rachel Lincoln, prAna’s director of sustainability explains via email. “We acted fast, and began brainstorming how we could reduce our use of plastic and overall packaging waste. The roll-pack method was born from there.”
The roll-pack shipping method is a folding technique where garments are rolled and is secured with natural materials; a method that protects each garment in the process of shipping and eliminates the need to wrap individual items in poly bags. This decision led to prAna eliminating more than 17 million poly bags from the supply chain from 2010-2019.
Lincoln continues: “Then, 10 years later, we realized that although we had learned so much, we weren’t seeing many other brands shifting their focus to responsible packaging. That’s when we decided to share our learnings, in hopes that it would help inspire and encourage other brands to join us. And thus, the Responsible Packaging Movement was launched.”
Approaching nearly three decades in business, it is clear the brand is fully committed to continuous sustainability improvement.
“We’ve always held respect for the planet and its people as our core foundation and every choice we make supports this ethos,” shares Lincoln. “We have shifted our materials into preferred fibers, we have diverted plastic waste through our roll-pack method, we give preference to bluesign® materials, we partnered with Fair Trade USA to launch the first ever Fair Trade Certified™ apparel in 2011, and we started working with The Renewal Workshop to create a circular business model in 2016.”
prAna is undoubtedly ahead of the fashion curve. With growing awareness of the negative environmental and social impacts of clothing, thanks in part to documentaries such as the True Cost and social movements such as Fashion Revolution, consumers are increasingly seeking out planet-friendly fashion.
Kirsten Wadley, prAna’s director of marketing, shares her observations: “Now, perhaps more than ever, consumers are asking questions about the clothes they purchase. They’re educating themselves about how their clothes are made and the environmental impact of the materials that go into making it.
“Brands are listening to their customers and we’re seeing more of these brands getting involved in programs like Fair Trade, Textile Exchange, or Sustainable Apparel Coalition to name a few. It’s exciting to see this momentum and goes to show consumers have an incredible opportunity to use their influence to make positive change.”
Brands interested in joining the Responsible Packaging Movement can sign up at prana.com/reshape-packaging.
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All images courtesy of prAna.