Product Shipping – Environmental Considerations & Customer Satisfaction ships everything through the US Postal Service.  Both UPS and Fedex have better tracking information and more integrated web-based solutions which would make switching to one of those carriers faster and more efficient for our office staff.  Unfortunately, there are 3 big downfalls to both of those options. 

First, both UPS and Fedex are more expensive than the US Postal Service when shipping small items to individuals.  If you’re shipping large freight and/or mostly to business addresses, that is not true.  But for us, the good old USPS is cheaper for more than 95% of our everyday shipping needs – including overnight.

Second, while this may seem odd, USPS is actually faster for standard shipping than either of the other carriers. Priority Mail is a standard mailing option that generally takes 2-3 business days to anywhere in the country.  Faster, cheaper shipping generally makes happier customers, so those are both good points for us.  And despite the jokes often heard about their reputation, we’ve not had a single package “lost in the mail” within the US since we’ve been in business.

Finally, although UPS and Fedex have been “greening” their trucks and delivery methods, the fact is that the US Postal Service visits almost every household in America every day anyway.  I live in a community with 89 homes.  USPS delivers to at least 80 of them every business day, whereas I’ve often seen the UPS and Fedex trucks come into the community to deliver a single package.  I have to believe that a lot more fuel is being wasted on “special trips” to single homes here and there rather than just adding a package to a destination that is already being covered.  (Though in truth, I have no data to back this up – but it seems sensible to me.)

This year we’re trying to ship more items in the cardboard envelops rather than the Tyvek bags whenever possible.  Besides the flat rate cardboard being slightly less expensive to ship, it is easier to reuse and recycle.  We are happy to point out that all of the USPS shipping supplies have achieved the environmental cradle-to-cradle certification for sustainability and health concerns.

Also, don’t worry if your package comes with some packing materials or even bubble wrap.  All of our packing materials (except the recycled tissue paper we wrap undergarments in) are reused from shipments we get in.  We like wrapping purses with metal zippers as well as jewelry in bubble wrap.  Even though we don’t use very much, early on we found we wanted more bubble wrap than we were getting.  Then a local tech company moved their offices and I got a great idea.  After the move we asked them what they were going to do with their packing supplies.  They were reusing boxes, which is good, but they were going to toss out the mounds of bubble wrap and packing materials they had purchased just for the move.  Viola!  We scored enough bubble wrap to last us for years to come and diverted it from becoming a big landfill mess.  We also bring all packing peanuts we get in to a local mailing center for reuse.  We hope you reuse the packing materials you get from us as well.  Most of these things can be reused again and again.
We’re happy to hear suggestions on packing and shipping.  One person suggested we try Freecycle to get reused packing supplies.  We’ve posted want ads, but thus far haven’t had any response.  We’re always looking for new ideas to minimize waste though; so keep the suggestions coming. 

Happy New Year everyone!

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Product Packaging – A Response to Your Comments

One commenter in the last post mentioned that they were uncomfortable purchasing items that are individually wrapped in plastic.  We agree, the plastic wrap has got to go.  So here’s a list of companies that are doing their part in getting rid of the wrap.

Companies that send items unwrapped in bulk

  • bgreen – our most eco company in terms of packing and shipping.  They do all their manufacturing in Los Angeles about 8 miles from our warehouse.  Most of the time we don’t even have their items shipped; we schedule a time when someone’s already out and about and have the products picked up directly.  So there’s virtually no transportation cost from them to us and everything is unwrapped.  Their smaller items, like panties, don’t even have hang tags.
  • Perfectly Imperfect Tees (PI Organics) – another Southern California based company that ships all their products without bags.  Sure, their dresses wind up a bit wrinkled from them to us to you, but what’s a little steamer or touch of ironing between friends?  Their lingerie also comes without hang tags.
  • SOS From Texas – from seed to shirt this company works completely in the USA, and ships all their products bag-free in bulk
  • Jim Morris T-Shirts – their environmental-themed screen printed tees always come in bulk without hang tags or bags. They source the tees from a variety of places from the USA to India, so there are some transportation costs, and they use conventional screen printing methods.  But the lack of packaging and a commitment to charitable giving make this small company a good choice.
  • Pants to Poverty – this UK-based poverty-fighting powerhouse company has traditionally sent their panties in bulk with no tags. Their most recent line of Angel Wing and Angel Print panties came in adorable recycled cotton gift boxes for the holidays. While we love the look of the boxes, they’re environmentally impractical.  We’ve talked to them and they assure us they’ll be going back to bulk shipped items in the new year.

Companies improving packaging options

  • Goddess Gear – this small, woman-owned business does all their manufacturing in Colorado and ships whole size runs in a single bag.  So all smalls for example will come in one plastic bag. Generally that will mean 2 -5 items per bag instead of individually wrapped.
  • DreamSacks – in 2009 DreamSacks switched from plastic bags to biodegradable corn-based bags. While we don’t believe corn is the answer to every environmental woe, this is a great use of corn-based plastic substitutes. At this time, about 1/2 our products from them are still in plastic bags as we sell off the remainder.  However, all of our restocks are coming in the new packaging.
  • Earth Creations – this USA manufacturer has just announced that starting in 2010 they will also be doing a complete switch to corn-based bags. All of their current products are still in plastic, but we’re excited that they’re making the switch.

We take bulk-shipped items and wrap them in a single piece of 100% post-consumer recycled tissue paper before we ship them.  All bulk items go in one tissue together.  This keeps them clean and hygienic for shipping.  But if you really don’t want even that much packaging, just let us know in the comments section of your order and we’ll let all your items roam free in their shipping envelops. 🙂

On a side note, our commenter mentioned that it might be better to just buy from a local, non-organic store to avoid the packaging. I have personally seen items shipped from China in individual plastic bags get taken out of their bags and hung on hangers (from the days of college side jobs). Just because you see something on a hangar doesn’t mean it didn’t come in a plastic bag.

I’ll address shipping options (boxes versus tyvek versus reused/recycled bags) in the next post.

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Help Us Streamline our Shipping Choices and Win Our Most Popular Sweatshirt!

We’re giving away a Pacific Spirit Sweatshirt in your choice of size and color!

HOW TO ENTER:  Just leave a comment at the bottom of this blog post. (Preferably pertaining to shipping, but any comment will enter you in the drawing.)  Be sure to provide e-mail contact information.

Today I received an e-mail from a very irate customer on our shipping policies.  I wish I could keep a business attitude towards these things, but this store is my passion – a lot of time, energy and thought have gone into it and even one unhappy customer is usually enough to bring me to tears.  (Yup, I’m one of those weepy people.)  I really do want every single customer to be happy, but I have found that this is an impossible goal. 

But I digress.  The issue at hand is shipping.  We keep prices very low as a matter of course.  All products from US manufactures are at least 10% off the MSRP.  Unless someone is having an unexpected sale, you can generally go right to any of our manufacturers and find that we sell their items cheaper than they do every single day.  (Massive fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates prevent us from making the same claim on our Canadian and European manufacturers, but we do our best.) 

Of course, this means we make lower profits.  No worries on that because hopefully we’re spreading the Green message and selling more with our low prices to make up for it.  However, we can’t offer super low prices and free shipping all the time.  Sadly, shipping just costs too much.  Our current policy is to offer reasonable shipping charges and then offer free shipping on large orders (over $99 where our profit is a little higher).  If no one ever returned anything, this would probably work fine.  But it gets a little sticky with partial returns where an order started out at $100 and ended up at $35.

In any event, we thought we take the question directly to our customers.  On the right you’ll find a poll booth.  Would you rather pay a little more (say MSRP) to get free shipping on every item all the time?  Do you prefer knowing you’re getting the very best deal and seeing shipping charges broken out separately?  Or does the hybrid method we’re currently using work best – good prices and free shipping only on large orders?  After you vote, be sure to leave a comment to enter yourself into our drawing for the free sweatshirt.  We’ll draw for a winner on December 1, 2009.

Depending on the winning poll answer, we may have a follow up question… 

If you’ve ever purchased anything from us, is your store.  Even if you’ve just looked, the fact is, it was designed for you, our eco-conscious customers.  So please help design it the way you’d like to see it.  Your opinion really does count!

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Sunday, November 15 is America Recycles Day

November 15 is America Recycles Day.  (Of course, looking at the name, I immediately wonder why there isn’t a World Recycles Day.)  In 2009, I wonder why we need this.  By now, recycling should be a gimme.  There are recycling drop off stations in almost every city and town; many of us now enjoy curbside recycling; and there are tons of information sources from Real Simple and E-Magazine to the Environmental Protection Agency on how to recycle just about anything.  In addition, there are fabulous groups like Freecycle and resources such as Craigslist where you can sell, swap or just give away your old stuff to someone who might want or need it.

November 15 isn’t the one day in the year when you should recycle.  It’s a day marked out to evaluate how you are doing on recycling.  Let’s all try to improve recycling efforts both at home and in our workplace.  Of course, the less you use, the less you need to recycle.  Maybe November 15 is the day you finally buy that reusable Starbucks cup (or the equivalent at your favorite coffee shop), start packing your child’s lunch sandwiches in Tupperware instead of zip lock bags or put out a bin in the office to collect cans.  (Hint: if you don’t want to recycle them yourself, you can often find a Girl Scout or Boy Scout troop leader that will pick them up for you.)

Whatever you do, make one change starting now.  Add one small step to live greener.  You may be surprised by how good it feels.

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It’s that time again… Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping

I had planned on doing a post about eco-wrapping later this holiday season.  Today I was going to write a bit about the first ever Eco-Model, Rachel Avalon, who won the Project Green Search eco-model competition.  I had the chance to meet Rachel very briefly last week at the first ever Green Bloggers Convention.  (On a side note, it’s thrilling to see all these new environmentally-focused events popping up.  More and more people are taking action to dance lightly on our planet.)

To my surprise, while I was looking for an introduction on Rachel, I found this fantastic little video that she produced on… you guessed it… eco-friendly gift wrapping.  So here’s Rachel introducing herself better than I ever could with some awesome green holiday tips.

In addition to all of Rachel’s great ideas, one of my personal favorites is wrapping gifts with the Sunday comics section.  If you happen to have any old maps lying around, they also make great wrapping paper. 
Reusable gift bags are good in a pinch as well.  Although many of them are made from virgin materials, well made ones can be used again and again.  I’ve had some holiday gift bags pass back and forth between family members for years.  Just fold them after use and store them for next year.
We offer a selection of tree-free gift bags made from a mix of kenaf, hemp, sugar cane, flax and recycled materials that will last through many gift exchanges.

If your child is asked to sell gift wrap through a school or event fundraiser, be sure to mention to the coordinator that you’d like to see recycled gift wrap on offer next year.  Many of the fundraising companies don’t receive a lot of requests or feedback, so letting them know what you would purchase can really make a difference.  If you have a chance to write or e-mail the company directly, take it.

As a final thought, if you’re purchasing any holiday gifts from, you can always have us gift wrap them for you using 100% recycled apparel boxes (65% post-consumer) with 100% post-consumer recycled tissue paper and 100% post-industrial recycled kraft gift wrap finished with natural raffia ribbon.  New for this holiday, we just got in this festive tree motif recycled kraft wrapping paper design.

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Last Chance Item: Earth Creations Boxy-Cut Clay-Dyed Scoop Neck Tops

For years the Earth Creations Scoop Neck tops have been staples at  The boxy cut and flowing design that covers the (often problem) tummy area are cute and flattering.  Earth Creations has redesigned these shirts to be a bit longer and tapered for a more fitted look.  They’re calling the new cut the “Better Than Before” Scoop Necks, and while they are quite nice, we’re sure at least a few clients will mourn the loss of the original, boxy look. 

We currently have good stock left in almost all sizes of the original 5 scoop neck designs.  However we were restocking them regularly, and what we have in stock now is the last of them.  Stop by to pick up any you don’t have yet or give them a try before they’re gone forever.

The new BTB scoops will be available in the spring.

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Come see In Person This Saturday

OCTOBER 24, 2009
International Day of Climate Action!

Come out and enjoy the Southern California sun in support of climate change action. will have a booth set up tomorrow at the Irvine Regional Park in Orange, California.


Our booth will be open from 9:00am – 3:00pm.  Register to participate in the event which includes a 5k run hiking, bicycling, tree planting, yoga and educational programs.  For more event information, see the full event listing.


If you don’t live in Southern California and would like to join an event in your area, check here for worldwide event listings.


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Swap Your Halloween Costume this Sat, Oct 10

Folks who live in Los Angeles have a unique opportunity to swap their old Halloween costumes with other eco-savvy swappers.  Swap-O-Rama-Rama is hosting a Halloween costume swap in Venice, CA.  What a great way to reduce our holiday footprint.  You can also bring pre-loved clothing items and swap them for new-to-you fashions – a true eco-fashion initiative.  Both adult and children’s costumes are welcome.

After you’ve found your treasure, design stations are set up where you can hem, silk screen or appliqué your new clothing to make it unique to you.  What a fun idea!  Here are the details:

Saturday October 10, 2009, 12 noon to 5pm
Swap-O-Rama-Rama – Halloween Costume and General Clothing

Venice Center for Peace with Justice and the Arts,
located at Venice United Methodist Church
2210 Lincoln Blvd (at Victoria, just north of Venice Blvd)
Venice, Ca 90291

For more information, visit:

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Your favorite lingerie – satin, lace and Formaldehye?

Formaldehyde has been classified as a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing substance) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and as a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  So it might surprise you to find out that there’s probably formaldehyde in your underwear, albeit at very low levels.

Formaldehyde has been used for years on a variety of clothing as a finishing agent.  It contributes to the stain-free, wrinkle-free and static-free properties of a garment.  The low levels of the chemical used in clothing have historically been considered safe.

However, last year Victoria’s Secret got hit with a lawsuit after one woman started developing welts and rashes after wearing one of their bras.  The lawsuit snowballed and there is now a class action suit against Victoria’s Secret.  I’m not sure that this is really a “fair” lawsuit, since you’d very likely find the same chemicals in bras purchased from the mall or any *mart store.  Additionally, some people are very sensitive to certain chemicals, while others may wear the same garment for years without issue.

All that being said, even if formaldehyde is harmless at low levels and can be removed with a few good washings, do you really want it in your underwear?  You may not be chemically sensitive, but… yuck!  Let’s not get all gloomy now, though. quite happily offers more than 3 dozen panty options and 2 dozen bras all sans formaldehyde.  Now that’s something to dance about.

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QUICK FACT: Is hemp illegal to grow in the USA?

Hemp is not technically illegal to grow in the USA. It can be grown with a special permit from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Rumor has it however, that farmers are never actually given permits. So for all intents and purposes, it is illegal. Industrial hemp is in the same family as marijuana and was banned for its similar look. You can’t get high on hemp though, as the mind-altering drug THC found in marijuana is nearly absent in industrial hemp.
On August 5 of this year, Oregon passed a bill to make hemp farming legal in that state. They are the 17th state to pass some sort of pro-hemp legislation in the past 3 years. The states are also lobbying to have the DEA permit issue removed and allow state-control of hemp production. At the moment, all of our hemp fabric for clothing is imported and US farmers would like to change that.
A really interesting tidbit is that in 1619 at Jamestown Colony in Virginia it was mandatory for farmers to grow hemp because there was such a shortage. …You must grow it, you can’t grow, oh the confusion over one little plant…
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