(2017 Update: Please note that unfortunately, Pact has changed its packaging and is using a lot more plastic. Specifics about the new packaging have been detailed below.)
This is what happened. I generally hate shopping for clothes. And I really hate shopping for underwear, which you often can’t try on. (How can I know how it’s going to fit and feel if I can’t try it on first?) And now, with the added conviction that my undies have to not only feel good but be good for the planet, finding the right ones has become a real drag. So I procrastinated on buying new ones, repairing my old panties over and over again until they were just shreds of thread. I had a lot of reasons to hope I never got into an accident!
The motivation to finally take care of business came before my trip to Disneyland. I knew I’d be sharing a hotel room with a co-worker. Holy crap! What if she sees my holey underwear? I jumped on Google and once again started my hunt for the perfect pair of panties.
My discovery: PACT. And here I am modeling them…
Seriously, it’s me. Didn’t you know I was an underwear model in a past life? So was Michael. I bought some for him too:
Wanna see what kind we bought for our kitties?
Okay, all kidding aside (I wouldn’t be caught dead flashing my skivvies on the Internet. I can barely manage to flash myself in my own mirror. And I didn’t actually buy any for Michael either, as much as I’d like to.), here’s what’s good about PACT:
1) They are made from 95% certified organic, non-GMO cotton, produced by the Kadioglu Organic Cotton Project in the Izmir region of Turkey. The company chose organic cotton over bamboo or soy, explaining that bamboo requires toxic chemicals to process into fabric, and soy tends to wear out faster.
2) While the company is still working to innovate more eco-friendly inks and dyes, those that they currently use are free from heavy metals and PVC. And they don’t offer any underwear in white because of the chemical bleaches that would be required.
3) Instead of being packaged in individual plastic bags, each pair of PACT undies comes in its own fabric bag made from remnants of the underwear fabric itself, saving material that otherwise would have been wasted. 2017 Update: Pact is no longer using the fabric remnant bags.
4) PACT underwear is shipped in a ASTM-6400 certified compostable bag, which here in the Bay Area (where PACT is headquartered) can be placed in our green compost bins. 2017 Update: Pact is now packaging its undies in boxes with plastic windows. When ordered online, undies either come in the window box or a plastic bag. I’m disheartened by this change.
Nothing that is shipped to you – the underwear, fabric bags, or compostable shipping bag and labels – should end up in a landfill. We’re hoping that by the time your PACT underwear is well-worn and you’re ready to get rid of it, we’ll have figured out a way to recycle it. We are constantly searching for innovative ideas about how to best accomplish the cradle-to-cradle goal and move away from the idea of consuming and then discarding.
5) The fabric design of each pair of underwear is inspired by a particular environmental organization, which receives 10% of the sales of that design. I chose the designs supporting Oceana, an ocean conservation organization, and 826 National, the nonprofit founded in SF by Dave Eggers to tutor and develop young writers.
While this company is great, there is always room for improvement, right? Here are some things I’d like to see addressed in the future:
1) The panties run small. I bought Large, but I think I might be happier with Extra Large, which is the biggest size available. Those who have met me know that while I’m not skinny, I’m not so very big either. When I asked, PACT told me the company is exploring larger sizes as well as developing an additional style for men. (The current choices for women are: bikini, thong, and boy short; the styles for men are brief, trunk, boxer brief, and boxer.)
2) They are made with 5% Elastane (Lycra) for stretch. While I would prefer a completely plastic-free panty, the company believes that 100% cotton underwear loses its shape quickly and has a shorter life span. I’m not sure I need my underwear to be so stretchy, but your mileage may vary.
3) The compostable shipping bag is manufactured using corn-based PLA. I would love to see PACT develop a compostable bag from a more sustainable crop than corn, since most corn is produced using GMO seeds and requires huge amounts of petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers to grow.
Overall, I feel like PACT is a responsible company that considers its impact on the planet very carefully in every aspect of production and shipping. Like all of us, it’s not perfect. But spending the extra money for underwear like this will help to increase demand for organic fabrics and non-toxic dyes. Buying underwear at Costco or Wal-Mart will not.
Okay, Dennis, is that the kind of post you were talking about? :-)