Pact is a US-based company for organic apparel that aspires to make Earth's favorite clothing. The brand is largely popular among men and women for its affordable casual styles made of Organic Cotton. Its offering features a full range of products that are suitable for everyday use and especially for those of us who are tired of formalities. It stands out with soft and comfy underwear free of toxic chemicals, organic clothes for kids & babies, and an inclusive maternity line.
Is Pact Ethical?
Pact essential clothing line presents a great balance of ethics and affordability. All of its products are GOTS certified organic and sustainably made in Fair Trade factories. However, Pact can be more transparent on the social front and in manufacturing. In addition, it should further cut down on elastane and work to provide consistent product quality.
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Organic cotton alone greatly reduces the agricultural water footprint, the impact on soil, and biodiversity. In addition, the GOTS-certified facilities where Pact fabrics are made must ensure responsible use of chemicals throughout the manufacturing process. The application of low-impact dyes requires less rising and works at lower temperatures, which leads to water and energy savings. Moreover, 98% of the dye wastewater is recycled and reused. That way Pact not only protects the environment but also guarantees the safety of its products. After all who wants to take risks with their underwear or baby clothes?
But it's not all that great, Pact adds small amounts of synthetic fibers like spandex and nylon whenever improved durability or stretch is desired - especially in leggings, tights, and socks. In fact, 62% of the products are blends containing plastics which means they can be neither composted nor recycled. That generates a significant amount of plastic waste and microfibers.
Pact uses envelopes made from post-consumer recycled paperboard and cardboard boxes, both of which are also 100% recyclable. The product itself is wrapped in a biodegradable polybag to protect it in the journey from India to the US. The company making the plastic bags claims that its organic technology is proven to enhance biodegradation in an anaerobic environment (e.g. landfill) without breaking down into microplastics. In an ideal situation, the process should take a few years, as opposed to regular plastic, which can take hundreds to thousands of years. That's all good, but in reality, we can only hope that our packaging waste will end up in favorable conditions for microbial degradation.
Pact demonstrates an effort to help climate change by allowing consumers to offset the carbon emissions associated with shipping. It is an optional service that automatically calculates the shipping distance so you can pay to offset local emissions by purchasing RECs (Renewable Energy Credits). While that's an effective Green PR strategy, we are skeptical about its effectiveness in managing climate change. It would be nice if Pact released how much of their shipping mileage has been offset so far. It's also worth noting that the brand makes its final stage product in India and then sends it to fulfillment centers in the US. This is likely even more carbon-intensive than shipping to consumers.
To minimize waste and do good Pact partnered with Give Back Box, a local charity that allows you to donate old clothes in good condition. For the Fashion Revolution week, it launched an exclusive collection with Zero Waste Daniel featuring hoodies and sweatpants patched with fabric scraps. However, the brand doesn't seem to make a consistent effort to reduce textile waste in the cut and sew process.
GOTS and Fair Trade
As of today, every piece of Pact clothing is made in India, a job market with a high risk of labor issues. Unfortunately, the brand doesn't publicly disclose the specific factories where its final stage product is assembled. However, they assure that cut and sew takes place in GOTS and Fair Trade Certified facilities that are safe, always sweatshop-free, and child-labor-free. Fair Trade works closely on the ground with Pact's factories to ensure that the people work in safe conditions, protect the environment, and earn additional money to empower and uplift their communities. Workers are allowed to form unions and collectively bargain on their labor conditions.
Fair Trade guarantees that the minimum legal wage is paid, but that doesn't necessarily mean people there earn a living wage. Sadly, in many Asian countries, including India, the minimum wage is below the living threshold. However, Pact has made a responsible choice to work with factories that are also GOTS certified and therefore provides workers with a fair wage that, at the very least, covers their basic needs.
Donations and Charity
Pact encourages you to donate your old clothes to local charities through Give Back Box. Yet there's no added benefit for being a Pact client, so if you want to reduce CO2 emissions and save shipping costs you may be better off donating them directly to a local Goodwill facility. Of course, it goes without saying that donations can't wash the issues of overconsumption. There are far more unwanted clothes than there's demand and charities often receive way more clothes than they need so many of them still go to waste.