2013 National Green Page

2013 National Green Pages

Issue link: http://pubs.greenamerica.org/i/94194

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most about the majority of his competi- tors was the deeper problem their habitual greenwashing often hides: clothing made from unsustainable materials in overseas sweatshops that harm workers. Not only did Yura consider outsourcing in socially unjust locations a problem, but he also recognized that the carbon footprint of moving products across the globe was much greater than it needed to be. So Yura set out to build a company that could be a part of the solution. SustainU's clothing is all made in US factories within a 200-mile radius of its headquarters. The company uses recycled cotton and recycled PET plastic to make all of its apparel, which are printed with nontoxic inks. cardboard to permaculture gardens. "There's hardly anything that leaves our facility that doesn't get used," Clark says. As a Green Business Network™ member for 27 years, Body Friendly Furniture has been one of the voices in the changing green movement. Partnership with Green America has helped the business move forward as both work to achieve the same goals. "Green America gave us a platform and an audience, and so we've promoted the same ideals together," Clark says. "We've been in the Green Pages for years and have grown together and complemented each other." —NF sustainuclothing.com Member: 7 Years SustainU Eco-clothing made from recycled materials Notre Dame football star turned New York fashion marketer turned West Virginia environmental clothing entrepreneur, Chris Yura, now founder and CEO of SustainU m, is something of a chameleon. Inspired dur- ing the recession, Yura created sustainable 20 Green America's 2013 National Green Pages® clothing company SustainU "after working in the New York fashion industry and seeing that there was a lot of greenwashing going on," where products appear environmentally friendly even though they are not. Moved to create a more authentic model for green clothing production, Yura launched his company to provide apparel made from 100 percent recycled materials, such as post-consumer plastic bottles and pre-consumer recycled cotton scraps. Compared to conventional cotton, using just one ton of recycled cotton saves 1,200 gallons of water, 500 kWh of electricity, and avoids the release of 1,700 pounds of non- biodegradable waste, says Yura. In addition, SustainU prints and embel- lishes its clothes only with PVC- and phthalate-free ink. A West Virginia native, Yura deliberately chose this "wild and wonderful" state as the clothing line's headquarters because it is the "perfect place to start a green company—a place that needs to become a leader in green technology. If we can change the way people think and create more jobs, we can stop the brain drain from the state." Built on promoting social justice and environmental sustainability, SustainU provides wholesale apparel mainly to college bookstores and outdoor clothing retailers, created in a way that is as gentle on the planet as possible. What bothered Yura From beginning to end, SustainU's products "take less than a 200-mile radius of transport to create yarn, knit the fabric, and cut and sew the clothes." With all of its manufacturers located in the Carolinas and Tennessee, SustainU reduces its fuel and emissions, as well as bolsters the American textiles industry. SustainU contracts work from one of the remaining union sewing factories in the US, located in TN. All other US factories that sew for SustainU have been audited by a third party and must be in compliance with all state and federal laws. "The real reason behind our business model is that we care about people, and we care about values," Yura explains. "To stay consistent with our ideals, being socially and environmentally sustainable only makes sense. The people are just as impor- tant as the material." SustainU launched its national co-brand with Eastern Mountain Sports in mid- September 2012, which features apparel highlighted with hangtags that read "EMS: Powered by SustainU." SustainU plans to grow into other outdoor retailers and the college bookstore realm in the fall of 2013. Yura says that recycled textiles provide an ideal way to revitalize the made-in-the- USA clothing industry. In working with recycled products and keeping the entire operation only a day away from SustainU headquarters, "not only is it green, but it also saves money," says Yura. "That is why the domestic sup- ply chain makes sense, and why we are in business. We see the need to reinvest in the US manufacturing sector, but we also know that we need an advantage—recycled tex- tiles can give our country that advantage." —LC m designates a certified member of Green America's Green Business Network™

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