I hope many of you find these things as useful as I have
over 1 year ago
– Wed, Dec 28, 2016 at 08:23:26 PM
I first mentioned packaging in the project update from February titled “Libertad Progress Report.” This update generated far more comments and emails than any other communication I’ve sent out.
The consensus was that the backers of this project are unimpressed by elaborate product presentation and want A) less packaging/waste B) more eco-friendly materials.
I was able to make some progress, but making meaningful change is a much bigger job than I anticipated and will take time and money.
First, the progress…
I live most of the year in Chiang Mai, Thailand and we have a lot of elephants here. Another resident of Chiang Mai is the owner of The Poo Poo Paper Store (poopoopaper.com). They make odorless, biodegradable paper products from elephant waste (also panda waste, moose waste and more…).
The owner is committed to saving the planet and was instantly drawn to the sustainability aspects of Merino. The result is the unbleached, undyed, compostable hangtag attached to a button on the front of each shirt.
A note here about dyes and other paper treatments common on tags and boxes…
I came to find out while researching this aspect of the project that it is a myth that all paper and cardboard is recyclable. It’s not...
Tags & boxes with the nice printing and glossy finish can be very un-eco and much harder to recycle. Plain brown unbleached & undyed is usually better. The added dyes require additional energy and can contain heavy metals. Often, paper finishes are made from either petrochemicals or clay. Both need to be mined and are energy intensive. Both make recycling harder (which means either more energy & cost or they simply end up in a landfill even if the recycling guy takes them away).
I’m not an expert on the subject and there is still much to learn. Comments and links to quality info are welcome.
It appears that the biggest obstacle to reducing the amount of packaging is the fact that this is a dress shirt and calls for more protections than other types of shirts. Forms & supports are designed to keep the shape while being transported and stored. Currently, and for many years, this protection has come in the form of paper and plastic supports and a shirt box to ship in.
The parties involved in the manufacture and transport of the shirt recommended that I stick with these protections. Alternate methods of packing that they commonly use require similar amounts of materials. Had I found a viable alternative, it would have come from a third party and implementation would involve either training the factory, or shipping to a separate packing facility. Additionally, it was indicated that changes might affect the liability for damage through the various stages of transport...a risk I cannot take at this stage.
Where we go from here
This goes beyond social responsibility. The extra packaging cost me thousands in materials and extra postage. I had the cost of fulfillment estimated with and without the boxes and the increase was almost double. So, I’m motivated to find an answer from both a social and financial standpoint.
This motivation actually led to a productive conversation with one of the backers that is an executive that oversees packaging at a Fortune 50 company. He was generous enough to refer me to a company that produces eco plastics. I’m confident that will result in a change in the bags we use in the near term and hopefully even more in the long term. There are increased costs, but we will take them on as we are able.
Progress was made and an easy win with biodegradable plastics is in the future. As for the more challenging aspect of reducing the amounts of materials in a way that doesn’t compromise the shirt, this is a puzzle that will take time to solve. So, if I can crowdsource answers from my backers that would help immensely.
Your nearly unanimous voices rejecting long-held beliefs that product presentation should be ostentatious is the most important factor in the success of this effort. Please continue to be vocal.
over 1 year ago
– Thu, Dec 22, 2016 at 08:22:45 AM
The first person has already received their shirt, so now seems like a good time to comment on the care label instructions.
This item is pretty low maintenance; so don’t let the level of detail in my instructions give the impression otherwise. Mostly, I want to illustrate the difference between caring for wool as compared to the more common cotton and synthetic fibers.
You’ll notice the hangtag reads, “Dry clean for best results.” This is easiest on the shirt and minimizes shrinking. However, many dry cleaning services are detrimental to the environment. For that reason, and the fact that a travel shirt sometimes must be washed in the sink of a hotel room, it is machine washable.
Machine wash cold and hang dry in the shade (or indoors)
An independent lab tested the shirts following the care instructions on the care label through 3 wash/dry cycles. The cumulative dimensional change (i.e. shrinking) was <1% across most of the key measurements (collar, chest, sleeve, etc.).
Tumble drying and hanging in the heat of the day will absolutely result in more shrinking than demonstrated in the lab. Do so at your own risk.
Wool expels moisture much more efficiently than cotton. You’ll find that the shirt dries faster than your cotton clothing even when indoors.
If you shake out your shirt before you hang it to dry, that will minimize wrinkling. If you want it to look extra sharp, do not exceed the “wool” setting on your iron. The wool setting is less hot than the cotton setting.
I recommend ironing inside out in case you scorch the fabric while you determine the best temperature setting for your personal iron. For mine, slightly less than the “wool” setting is sufficient to achieve great results. Your iron may be different.
Don’t iron right after washing. Let it hang dry first, so some of the wrinkles from washing have time to work themselves out and so it doesn’t shrink from the heat of the iron.
Whether you iron or not, the shirt is more wrinkle resistant than cotton and should look a bit better, longer.
Wool does not feel the same as cotton, polyester or nylon
Most backers already own Merino clothing from companies like Icebreaker and Smartwool. So, you know that it is soft enough to wear next to the skin, but is a little rougher than other fibers. Most people don’t notice anything, but some first-timers will (I did). But, you won’t notice anything after wearing it for a few minutes.
Additionally, as you put it through wash cycles it will soften and smooth out each time.
There are a few other items on the care label that are self-explanatory.
As always, message me with any questions.
over 1 year ago
– Fri, Dec 16, 2016 at 07:52:20 AM
The fulfillment company assures me that it is safe to say we’ll be mailing out the orders next week.
As indicated in the last update, I’ve been waiting to hear from them regarding the arrival of the shirt boxes and, in turn, they’ve been waiting to hear from the box mfg which is very busy this time of year. Today, they got their response that the boxes will arrive the first part of next week.
They’re being sent out of Hong Kong. So, depending on where you are in the world, some orders will arrive before the new year and others just after.
In the coming days/weeks, I’ll have updates on the shirts themselves (e.g. care instructions) and I’ll also update you on the efforts made for environmentally friendly packaging. Some of you may remember the Feb 27th update - by far the most responded to - in which everyone expressed interest in reducing waste and environmental impact. I was able to achieve one victory that wasn’t originally planned and there are others planned for the future.
Until then, please enjoy this photo of the shirts sitting in their cartons in the warehouse waiting to be sent out…
Finalize Shipping Address
over 1 year ago
– Thu, Nov 24, 2016 at 10:47:38 PM
In the next 24 hrs, please be on the lookout for an automated email via Backerkit requesting your shipping address be finalized. That email will have links to your account where changes can be made. (If anyone has difficulty logging in, or for any other reason, just PM me on Kickstarter, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
The shirts were finished before the completion date given in the last update (Dec. 15th), so the order fulfillment company has requested that backers finalize their shipping address asap to move through the process without further delays.
I don't have the exact shipping date, but I can tell you that the orders will not arrive before Christmas.
At this moment, the fulfillment company is scheduling packing/shipping. They will advise the dates as soon as I have a spot on their calendar.