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Last year, we celebrated Earth Day with the launch of our Discontinued Stock, where anyone can get past-season items for lower prices than current-season items. It was a huge hit, and we've kept it going, because perfectly usable products should be in the hands of people who will use it, not landfills.

This year, I'd like to take a moment to unpack what I really think about sustainability and what it means to take care of Planet Earth.

At its literal core, "sustainability" is about being able to exist in the long term. We talk about sustainability in the context of saving our planet, but it's far more complex than that. When it comes to apparel, I want to encourage you to think about sustainability in the context of wearability, design, and the brand itself.

Wearability: how often do you wear each item you own?

I’ve written before about how I try to make Alpine Parrot cost less than $1 per wear. When clothing is cheap (as in low-cost), you expect to get to $1 per wear pretty quickly. When it’s expensive (as in high-cost), you expect it to take a little longer to reach that $1. 

You need to want to wear your clothes a LOT to bring the cost per wear down. That means the materials need to last, but also that the garment makes you feel good whenever you wear it. Your clothes should make you feel cute, comfortable, powerful… and if they don’t you simply won’t wear it.

The best, most sustainable clothing gets worn until they’re in tatters.

Design: how was the garment made?

Your clothes are more than just the fabric they’re made out of. There are all the trims (like buttons, zippers, etc), sure, but more importantly, it’s how everything is put together to make the finished product. 

A poorly constructed garment won’t hold up to regular use or is hard to repair. A garment that uses multiple types of fabric requires more fabric overall in order to hit minimum order quantities, which often results in either more finished inventory or more excess raw materials - both of which result in waste if they’re not purchased and used. 

The fabric also plays a part, of course. But it’s important to point out that brands that use recycled polyester to make clothing only to send the unsold items to landfills are no more sustainable than brands that use pure polyester to do the same thing. 

At Alpine Parrot, we put a LOT of thought into every garment we make. We’re always thinking about how to make our clothes last as long as possible, and we try to be smart about minimizing the fabric and trims we use to cut down on waste. Fun fact: the buttons on the Ponderosa Pants, Bristlecone Flannel, and Arroyo Sun Hoodie are all the same, specifically so that we could minimize the amount of varied products we needed to purchase for our line.

Brands: are they worth keeping around?

Knowing how much to make so that a brand can sell through as much of their inventory as possible is a complicated process - no one ever gets it 100% right, but the ones that care about sustainability are making strategic decisions that minimize overproduction and maximize customer happiness.

Brands can’t survive without customers, and customers need brands to make things that are worth buying. This symbiotic relationship is its own ecosystem that falls apart when one of the two sides stops participating in the cycle - for better or worse.

Remember: you vote with your dollars. When you buy a product from a brand, you’re telling that brand that you want them to stick around. Alternatively, brands that aren’t able to sell more expensive but sustainable products ultimately come to the conclusion that customers aren’t all that interested in sustainability in the first place. 

Summing it all up

At Alpine Parrot, we think about sustainability as doing our best to enable you to wear our gear for a long time before letting it go. We design our clothes so that they're easy to clean, relatively easy to repair, and easy to wear in multiple different situations. 

In turn, we hope that you like what we're doing enough to continue to buy clothes from us and tell others about what we're up to, so that we can stick around for a while.

I’d love to know: what’s your absolute favorite piece of clothing that you’re still wearing, even though it’s wearing out??