Wednesday, April 27, 2011

KLeN’s Approach To Creating Eco-Conscious Products

KLeN Laundry found its niche creating eco-friendly socks, underwear, undershirts, and accessories for the action sports enthusiast.   From using bamboo and organic cotton in the construction of its garments to recycled paper and cardboard for packaging, KLeN has been moving forward to advance its goals by reducing its impacts on the earth.
Our contributor Michael Sudmeier talked with KLeN Founder April Froke and got the scoop on what the company has been doing to create a more eco-friendly product.
By KLeN’s standards, what constitutes an eco-friendly product?
While there is much debate on this topic, we feel that anything that can be harvested sustainably and without using harmful pesticides or chemicals (hint, hint bamboo) can be considered eco-friendly.  In addition, anything that is recycled and used in a second life is a great way to be eco-friendly.  Conventional cotton, which is the staple of most clothing companies, uses 25% of the world’s insecticides.  Organic cotton, which KLeN uses in the production of our printed tee’s, not only does not use pesticides, but it uses a lot less water as it is a rotation crop.  When crops are rotated the soil maintains its nutrients and is better able to retain water.  Mass irrigation, which is used in the production of conventional cotton, uses 3,000 cubic meters more of water per acre to grow than organic cotton.  Unfortunately, currently only 0.5% of the cotton market is organic.
What convinced you that the time was right to launch KleN?
A quick look around at the state of the world—global warming, floods, draughts, famines, oil spills, et cetera—is all it took to convince us that the time was right to launch KLeN.  Our goal is not to take food away from pandas, and we can’t save the world by ourselves, but we are damn proud to do our part!
How does KLeN attempt to minimize the environmental impact of its packaging materials?
Going hand in hand with making products that are good for the environment, at KLeN we realize that all is lost if the packaging that is used negates the benefits of the actual product inside.  With that in mind, we have made a conscious effort to use recycled paper and cardboard for all of our sock packaging.  Additionally, the paper sleeve on all of our underwear, undershirts, and hang tags is recycled.  Lastly, in a way to ensure that none of our material goes to waste, the decorative “touch n feel” fabric swatch on each shirt is made from scraps that would otherwise be thrown away.  All of these efforts, combined with our attempts to use the least amount of packaging possible help ensure that our packaging is every bit as environmentally friendly as our products.
What trends do you see shaping the way companies approach eco-friendly products and practices?
We are happy to see that many companies in the industry have recognized the need to use eco-friendly products and reduce the impacts that they have on the environment.  Since the environment and its protection are such hot button issues right now, we see many clothing companies and retailers embracing the use of eco-friendly products.
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