Whether you’re looking for a closet staple white tee, or a comfortable and durable t-shirt to serve as the canvas for your screen-print design, the Bella + Canvas Jersey Short Sleeve is a great sustainable option. While the company could be more transparent about certain aspects of their supply chain (like where exactly their cotton comes from), they highlight transparency in their values and provide blog posts that encourage questions and comments. They acknowledge the environmental harm of fashion industry norms and employ innovative methods to challenge them with their waste, water, and energy reduction practices, making good on their promise to provide a high quality USA-made sustainable t-shirt.
The shirt is made of 100% Airlume combed and ring-spun cotton (Ash color- 99% Airlume combed and ring-spun cotton, 1% poly). That means the raw cotton is combed through, removing impurities and then ring-spun to create a tight weave and smooth surface for screen printing. The long staple cotton is sourced from around the world, though they do not make it clear where specifically it’s sourced or the labor conditions of those picking the cotton. The cotton is dyed with eco-friendly dyes in Los Angeles.
All Bella + Canvas garments are cut and dyed in Los Angeles, and they are sown in factories located either in Los Angeles or Central America. Because the dyeing/cutting facilities are located in LA, they follow California EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) guidelines which are the strictest in the world. While many clothing factories in Asia and Central America typically use petroleum coke to power production, which, as one of the dirtiest fossil fuels, releases 11% more green house gases than coal, LA bans this practice. Also, while clothing factories typically use biomass— cane sugar, African palm oil waste, or burned trees— to create steam causing deforestation, Bella + Canvas uses an energy exchange process that collects air from dryers and oils from dyes to create energy instead. The LA facilities use seven times less water than the industry average, saving 24 million gallons per week. In terms of energy, the sewing and cutting facilities are powered by solar energy and the lighting and skylights in each building are motion sensor LED lights. Excess fabric is recycled into other products like baby bibs or upholstery stuffing.
Bella + Canvas’ mission is to “be different,” highlighting quality, sustainability, USA strong production, and innovation as their values. They are the largest dyer and cutter of apparel in the U.S and over 1,000 jobs are provided at their Los Angeles facilities. They were given a Platinum WRAP certification which is based on principles including human resources management, health and safety standards, environment and eco-friendly practices, and legal compliance with import/export customs compliance and security standards. They also participate in the Fair Labor Association which companies join on a voluntary basis to ensure fair labor practices and humane working conditions throughout their supply chain. Electric car charging stations are provided at the LA facilities to encourage employees to drive sustainably. The labor practices overseas are not explained as much, though they do note that independent audits are conducted to ensure the standards match those in the U.S. In terms of transparency, Bella + Canvas does not have a sustainability report offering in-depth analysis of their corporate social responsibility; however, they do offer blog posts, and started a You Tube channel explaining some aspects of their production methods.