Dirtball Clothing: 100% Recycled Materials, 100% Made in the USA, 100% Cool
I’m always on the lookout for ways to lighten my environmental impacts on the planet, but one of the areas that doesn’t get a lot of attention in my mind, or anybody else’s mind, is the clothes we all wear every day. My God, I think to myself, there’s got to be SOMEBODY out there who’s making good-looking clothing that has minimal environmental impacts. I think I’ve found a company doing just such a thing… more about them in a bit.
I’ve gone the ‘eco-friendly’ clothes route in the past, to varying degrees of success. Back in the 90’s I was on a bit of a hemp kick, and spent a ridiculous amount of money on a pair of blue jeans made entirely of hemp. It was an idea that looked better in concept than in reality, because if a pair of jeans isn’t comfortable to wear, it doesn’t matter what they’re made out of. And these hemp jeans, while their heart was in the right place, sucked.
I fared much better with another 90’s era piece of eco-clothing, a polo shirt made entirely from recycled plastic bottles. Purchased in 1995 or 1996, I still have it, and it still looks like new. But this shirt brings up another issue with eco-friendly clothes: they’re often not very fashionable. Now, for a person like me, someone who really couldn’t spot a fashion trend if it crawled up and bit me on the ass, what a piece of clothing looks like really isn’t that important. But for others, it definitely is.
So apart from the hemp jeans and the recycled shirt, and a pair of organic socks here and there, my clothing remains stubbornly conventional. And that’s the problem. Conventional clothing has huge environmental impacts, and none of them are good. Cotton requires absurd amounts of water to grow and buttloads of pesticides to keep healthy. And all those fabulous synthetic fabrics? Well folks, ‘synthetic fabric’ is just a more acceptable way of saying ‘material made from oil.’ Not sustainable one bit. And I don’t even know where to start with the working conditions and pathetically low pay the poor women and children who make the clothes we wear have to suffer under. Our entire modern clothing industry is built on a foundation of toxic chemicals and horrifying working conditions. Fun! What’s a person to do who wants their clothing to reflect their concern for the planet and the plight of working people everywhere?
Well, there’s second-hand clothing. That’s one option, and it’s a good one. And then there’s seeking out the rare company that is actually trying to do the right thing with their manufacture of their clothing. Companies like Patagonia are incorporating recycled and organic materials into their products, and companies such as American Apparel are attempting to revive clothing manufacturing here in the U.S.
And then there’s Dirtball. Crazy name for a company that makes clothing, I’ll give you that. I have no idea where the name came from, but the company is worth checking out. For three very important reasons.
First, their clothing doesn’t suck from a fashion standpoint. They make shirts, socks, hats, shorts, sweatshirts, jeans, and a cool new jacket they’re trying to get funded on Kickstarter that’s made from 50 recycled plastic water bottles. (It’s called ‘The 50’ to drive that last point home.)
Second, every thing they make, and I’m talking everything, is made from recycled materials. No virgin cotton, no virgin petroleum…..everything in their clothes was diverted from the waste stream after its previous life as something else. Old clothing is turned into new clothing. Just like nature! Plastic water bottles are processed and turned into fabric. Someday, the plastic water bottle will be a distant memory, as it’s the biggest waste of plastic, energy, water, etc. in the modern world, but for now at least, they’re everywhere. If Dirtball can keep a few of the billions of plastic water bottles out of landfills, they’ve got my back. So the sustainability factor of Dirtball’s clothes is off the charts.
And third…. just like every single item they make is made from recycled materials, every single item they make is designed and manufactured right here in the USA, by hard-working men and women who earn a decent wage for their work, and under fair (let’s call them ‘modern’) working conditions.
You’ll pay a bit more for Dirtball clothing, because going against the grain and doing the right thing, doing the eco-friendly thing, costs more. So does paying American workers. But if you check out their website and catalog, you’ll notice that their stuff isn’t that expensive compared to ‘regular’ clothes. And it’s worth it to have American-made, sustainable, good-looking, long-lasting clothing. Right? Listen, I’m not being paid by these Dirtballs to say nice things about them. I’m not getting free stuff from them (though I am open to the idea), or anything else that’s not above-board. I just know a good thing when I see it, and I like to stand up for the small companies that have the balls to stand up to the giants of industry and say ‘Enough is enough! There’s a better way to do things, and if you won’t do them, dammit we will!!’
I went off on this tangent starting in a piece I wrote for my sister site Green Home Source. Read it here if you’d like.