What does sustainability mean for Breathing Soul?

When considering sustainability, our goal is to make on-demand manufacturing the norm for a planet with finite resources and people with infinite ideas.

The most powerful tool on our hands is on-demand manufacturing—or print-on-demand. Print-on-demand items are made only after your order is placed. Meanwhile conventional manufacturing usually produces more than can be sold. Unfortunately, in most cases, the leftover stock from conventional manufacturing is either thrown away or burned without ever being used.

Transparency and more eco-friendly product options

Transparency is one of Breathing Soul's core values. To make our product sourcing more transparent, we add the source information to every product in our store, which tells you about each item's country of origin. You can also download product certificates in the Description tab of all our eco-friendly products.

Our goal is keep increasing the number of eco-friendly products you can choose from our catalog. Currently, our eco-friendly product collection consists of items that are made of at least 70% organic, recycled, or biodegradable materials. We’ll continue adding premium quality products made from sustainable materials in the coming years.

Post-consumer recycled plastic (PCR) packaging 

We are using packaging made of post-consumer recycled plastics for all orders. Post-consumer recycled plastic (or PCR) is a material made from everyday recyclables like plastic bottles and other containers. This saves raw materials and requires less energy for production.

The recycled content shared in our packaging varies across different facilities. In North America, the share of PCR plastics has increased to 90%–100%. In Europe, the amount of recycled content for both layers of packaging is 70%–100%.

Along with the material content, we’ve introduced an updated packaging design. This design is very self-explanatory. The words “Recycle me again” featured on the front deliver a clear message—this material has been recycled before and you can recycle it again. Very simple and convenient. Our apparel packaging features a QR code that opens a website where you can find guidelines for recycling the packaging and the nearest drop-off sites. These guidelines currently work for customers in the US and Canada. In other regions, we encourage you to follow your local recycling guidelines. 

We’ve also eliminated unnecessary plastic layers when packaging single item shipments. Previously all single-item apparel product orders were first packed in a clear plastic layer and then moved to the regular shipping bag. Now all orders containing only one apparel product are only packed in the regular shipping bag.

We are also aiming to reduce the number of paper printed tags for many of our products. Please do not be alarm if any of your newly purchased products come without tags.

Why PCR plastics not biodegradable or kraft materials?

When looking for the best eco-friendly packaging solution, we considered several other material types: bioplastic, compostable plastic, and kraft mailers.

Biodegradable and compostable plastic is made from plant-based materials and might look like the obvious choice. These material types look very similar to regular plastic and have similar qualities, however, they usually have different sorting and recycling guidelines. Some can be composted industrially, some at home, and some can even be sorted with regular plastic film. This is confusing and brings challenges both for customers and recyclers. Biodegradable and compostable materials offer some great benefits. Most importantly, it avoids petroleum use and doesn’t add up to micro-plastic pollution. Also, bioplastics and compostable plastics are made from renewable materials. Both biodegradable and compostable plastics have great potential, but our recycling systems aren’t there yet. Dropping a bag in the wrong bin might spoil the whole recycling batch and the package might end up in a landfill despite the good intentions to recycle it. 

Paper or kraft packaging is made from renewable resources and is compostable. Our recycling systems are very well equipped to handle this material. However, there are several challenges this material packaging presents. This type of packaging doesn’t work for large product shipments. The bigger the kraft mailer has to be, the more fragile it becomes and runs the risk of breaking during shipping. Kraft or parchment paper bags aren’t suitable for the automatic packing machines we use to make apparel product fulfillment more efficient. And we can’t ignore the fact that kraft materials are up to 10 times more expensive than recycled plastic. Introducing kraft packaging at a large scale would affect product pricing overall. 

Because of the challenges, it’s very unlikely that we’ll be able to fully eliminate plastic from our packaging in the nearest future. Instead, changes in packaging will be gradual and ever-evolving. For PCR plastics, recycling systems are in place to properly dispose of and reuse the material. Production of this type of packaging doesn’t require raw resources and uses less energy. Introducing PCR plastic packaging is the first step toward making packaging more sustainable at Breathing Soul.