Have you ever watched a clothing haul video on YouTube? I have and I really enjoy watching them. These videos are always aesthetically pleasing and the girls wear them so well. Most of the clothes are either bought from Yesstyle or Princess Polly, and I was curious about the sustainability of Princess Polly because I saw many cute dresses from them. I was thinking about purchasing from them but then I also wanted to check if their company was sustainable before that!
The Yosemite sweater itself is made of 50% cotton, 45% polyester, and 5% elastane. Cotton is actually considered a sustainable fabric relative to other chemically produced fabrics. Cotton is sustainable compared to synthetic fiber because it is biodegradable. However, there are other issues that are connected with the production of cotton. Cotton needs a lot of water for production and it is very labor-intensive. There are alternatives to using traditional cotton and recently, many companies such as Adidas and Burberry have pledged to use 100% sustainable cotton and organic cotton in their products. But, it is unclear if the cotton used in Princess Polly’s sweatshirt is sourced from sustainable cotton or regular cotton. Additionally, the other 45% of the sweater is made from polyester and polyester is not a sustainable fabric. Polyester is made from petroleum oil, a nonrenewable source, and there are many studies that show that polyester sheds microplastics after it is washed. Since microplastics are small, they often escape our filter systems and end up in the bodies of marine animals, which causes detriments to our health and the marine animals’ health. The last fabric listed, elastane, is also a fabric that is not biodegradable just like polyester. All in all, these fabrics are all considered to be unsustainable under my standards, if there were more transparency around the sourcing of cotton, polyester, and elastane then it would be better! On Princess Polly’s website, I see that they have a page dedicated to sustainability. One of their goals was to maintain a circular economy and to ensure ethical sourcing. It would be great to include the sourcing and farming information of cotton, polyester, and elastane in this section as well.
Aside from the materials used to make the sweater and other clothes, Princess Polly discussed their plan to switch to zero waste packaging. All of their packaging is made to be 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable. In addition to their commitment to safe packaging, they also included steps to disposing of their packages such as locating compost bins and giving suggestions to people who cannot find a compost bin. Not only that but also, Princess Polly is collaborating with The Better Packaging Co, which is a company that focuses on sustainable e-commerce packaging to use biodegradable material in their packaging. Princess Polly also fully removed the use of bubble wrap and their cards are also made of recycled paper. By 2021 Princess Polly will be expanding to more of their sustainable goals.
As mentioned previously, the various fabrics used in the sweater have different production methods. Firstly, cotton needs tons of water and is labor-intensive. A lot of pesticides are also used in the production of cotton, and these production methods are all unsustainable. Similarly, polyester is a “manufactured synthetic fiber” (CFDA.com) which means that it is not a renewable material and polyester contains petroleum. Petroleum is environmentally unfriendly and the production methods also lead to more pollution. Additionally, it is difficult to trace the raw materials used to produce petroleum and many factories and supplies do not have access to these types of information. This makes it even more difficult to check if the polyester used in Princess Polly’s sweater is sustainable or not as there is not enough transparency. Since Princess Polly is striving to include more information about their supply chain by 2023, I think there will be more information about the sourcing of these materials. I will be sure to check it out in the future, although I also wonder why it will take them two years to put out information.
Princess Polly is paired with the United Nations Global Compact, an organization that focuses on meeting sustainable development goals. By pairing with the United Nations Global Compact, Princess Polly has to ensure that their suppliers are following their safe and ethical workplace. One thing that I want to point out is that Princess Polly is specific about where their suppliers come from. They exhibit a map that shows the suppliers from China, such as having 78% of their manufacturers come from Guangdong. In addition to that, Princess Polly also set standards for their ethical work standards such as having fair wages, no child labor, no forced labor, and many more. Although it is great that Princess Polly points out specific rules and general guidelines that they follow, I think it will be better if there was a way to validate the information provided on the website. This way we as consumers will feel safer and more comfortable with purchasing clothing from Princess Polly because the workers in the factories are not being treated poorly just to make clothes for us.