Innovators in Eco-Friendly Packaging and Shipping Supplies

Responsible Packaging Movement

The Responsible Packaging Movement

Learn about prAna's movement, how to join the community,
and packaging options to help reach your RPM goals.  

Published June 24, 2021

Who is prAna?

“Together, Let’s #ReshapePackaging”

prAna has been at the forefront of the slow fashion movement for some time. Their mission - Clothing for Positive Change (C4PC) - represents their commitment to “respecting the planet and its people, always.” prAna has set a goal to eliminate plastic from their consumer packaging by 2021, eliminate materials from ancient and endangered forests by 2022, and eliminate the use of virgin forest fibers by 2025.

What is the Responsible Packaging Movement?

One of the many inspiring things about prAna is how they engage their community of like-minded fashion brands. Rather than seeing their eco commitment as a “competitive brand differentiator,” they recognize that Clothing For Positive Change only makes a difference if a critical mass of apparel companies are on board, working towards the same end goal.

With that mindset, they created the Responsible Packaging Movement, a space for like-minded brands to commit, collaborate, get inspired, and share sustainable packaging learnings. The joining process is straightforward - set your responsible packaging goals, share those goals with prAna, and then showcase your commitment to your customers. Members of the Responsible Packaging Movement receive:

  • Responsible Packaging Guides, including distribution and packaging best practices
  • Guidance via webinars and email communications
  • Access to industry leaders via roundtable discussions
  • Networking space with like-minded brands
  • Social Media toolkit

As of July 2021, seventy-four apparel brands have already joined, and a review of their respective sites and social media feeds will inspire even the most cynical among us of how brands can lead the movement towards positive change. These brands are testing new fabrics, ensuring fair and ethical supply chains, and making exciting changes to their packaging.

What Does "Responsible Packaging" Mean?

We love the term “Responsible,” which, in many ways, is a more appropriate word than “sustainable.” The word sustainable means that something can be produced indefinitely. In truth, even “sustainable packaging” harms the planet - and the immediate, short-term goal is to minimize that negative impact to be as close to zero as possible. Though the long-term goal is sustainable or regenerative, the word “responsible” beautifully captures the immediate focus.

But what does the term mean? There is no perfect definition; ultimately, each brand must develop its research-based perspective that feeds into its unique packaging goals. We believe prAna's Responsible Packaging Movement goals serve as an incredible foundation for any apparel brand. These goals include:

Eliminate plastic packaging. This includes ALL plastic, including bio-based plastic, compostable plastic, and plastic with additives - all of which are “alternative” options to petroleum plastic that do not solve the problems created by plastic.

Source natural fibers responsibly. It isn’t enough to do away with plastic. If brands go plastic-free without considering the source of their natural fiber alternatives, they can unintentionally create even more environmental damage.

According to Canopy, the hierarchy of sources of natural fibers include the following (in order of most to least preferred):

  • Post-consumer waste
  • Post-industrial waste
  • Agricultural Residue Fibers
  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified and free of Endangered and High Conservation Value Forest fiber
  • Canopy also defines cleaner bleaching production technologies that should be considered

Learn more about Canopy's Paper Steps here

What is Plastic? What is Plastic-Free?

Unfortunately, there is no widely-accepted definition of plastic-free, just as there is no perfect definition of “eco-friendly” or “sustainable.” EcoEnclose has researched this question deeply, and we’ve developed several definitions through this research.

  • Definition of Plastic: This image describes the range of definitions for “plastic.” At EcoEnclose, we define plastic as any synthetic polymer, regardless of the raw materials used as a backbone for the polymer. It doesn’t matter if the feedstock for the carbon comes from oil, sand, natural gas, corn, sugarcane, or kelp - for us, it is still technically plastic.

Plastic-Free Packaging: The question of whether or not a package is plastic-free is even more nuanced. EcoEnclose defines a packaging solution as plastic-free if the materials used to construct the packaging do not contain plastic, using the above definition of plastic. However, it is essential to note that packaging can be plastic-free and still contain synthetics and polymers in its acrylic or hot melt adhesives (the glue that holds products together) and silicone seal strips that seal the packaging closed.

EcoEnclose's Plastic-Free Packaging Solutions

EcoEnclose has an extensive line of products that meet the goals of the Responsible Packaging Movement. These plastic-free packaging options are 100% recycled with high post-consumer waste levels. Two of these products (glassine bags, GreenWrap) are made with virgin, certified sustainable inputs. Though we are pleased they are sourced responsibly, we continue to seek ways to make these virgin options more responsible.

RPM Non-Profit Partnerships

Two non-profit organizations are integral contributors to the Responsible Packaging Movement. These non-profits have also influenced EcoEnclose’s vision and sustainability framework, and we have found them incredibly rooted in research, science, and impact.

5 Gyres: Not-for-profit leader in the global fight against plastic pollution, with over ten years of expertise in scientific research and plastic-pollution issues. Since 2009, their team has completed 19 expeditions—bringing over 300 citizen scientists, corporate executives, brands, and celebrities to the gyres, lakes, and rivers to research plastic pollution. In addition, they continue to educate stakeholders, perform community outreach, and engage in citizen science to implement data-driven solutions.

Canopy: Not-for-profit environmental organization that protects forests, species, and climate. For 20 years, they’ve collaborated with over 750 companies, including book publishers, magazines, newspapers, printers, clothing companies, and global brands, to protect Ancient and Endangered forests. In addition, Canopy works collaboratively with companies to help make supply chains more sustainable, implement innovative NextGen Solutions, and preserve this planet we call home.

EcoEnclose is a proud policyholder within Canopy Planet's Pack4Good initiative. We have gained so much value from this collaboration, helping us better vet our fiber-based products that are not 100% recycled and identify better long-term ways of producing these products.

The Responsible Packaging Movement in Action

Here are a few examples of how RPM member companies use their goals to innovate packaging design and options.

Replacing Clear Poly Bags with Glassine Bags

The ubiquitous, virgin, single-use clear poly bag is typically used for packaging individual garments for shipment from factories to distribution centers. To do away with this bag, prAna has tested a few different approaches, including replacing these clear plastic bags with glassine paper bags, which are curbside recyclable and naturally biodegradable. Learn more.

Replacing Clear Poly Bags with Raffia Ties

Rolling apparel up into tight “sushi” rolls and tying them with raffia is an even more minimalist approach that prAna has had a lot of success with.

Eliminating the Hang Tang & It's Plastic Waste

Pearl Izumi, a member of the Responsible Packaging Movement and leading conscious company in the cycling space, has grappled with how to eliminate the hang tag and the resulting plastic and waste that typically comes with a hang tag. They have moved to an approach of including critical garment information on one tag the size of a business card - the smallest size that end-consumers can still recycle. The new hangtags use 19,400 pounds less paper, saving 165 trees, 68,082 gallons of water, and 4,503 gallons of oil annually.