Advertisement with the Swiss underwear label CALIDA – German version (auf Deutsch) here
100% compostable, Cradle-to-Cradle certified, Made in Green by OekoTex from TENCEL® MICRO, ethically produced from the fiber to the final product in Europe – my head is gonna explode from how much sustainability is packed into the new “I LOVE NATURE” T -Shirt from Swiss company CALIDA.
But what does compostable mean, and is this shirt really made environmentally friendly in every way, and is such an easily compostable garment even sustainable, meaning will it last as long as conventional shirts? I want to get to the bottom of all these questions today.
Disclaimer: This blog post is sponsored by CALIDA. Part of the collaboration is to introduce their new t-shirt. However, I am free to decide how I implement this, what questions I ask and what conclusion I personally come to. But if you read this post until the end, it supports my work and you will learn a lot!
The most sustainable material?
The I LOVE NATURE shirt is made of TENCEL® MICRO, a fiber of natural origin, produced industrially from the raw material wood. The production is very sustainable due to the nearly 100 percent closed loop system. The wood comes from sustainable forestry or plantations and in total 20 times less water is needed than, for example, for cotton production.
The fabric is also super soft and flowy and it has functional properties such as temperature and moisture balancing. It also feels relatively thin for me, but still very high quality. My recommendation: wear a Nude-colored bra underneath.
Where is the shirt made exactly? What do the transport routes look like?
Another advantage of the shirt: the short transport routes within Europe. The fibers come from the Austrian manufacturer Lenzing, the yarn is spun in Bosnia and the yarn is knitted into a fabric in Austria. The T-shirts are then sewn in a factory owned by CALIDA in Hungary and then sent to the CALIDA warehouse in Switzerland. A real Made in Europe T-shirt! And if you want to know more about the production chain, you can scan the QR code provided with the product and transparently trace back to which manufacturing companies were involved in producing the shirt, at which production levels the factories were involved, and in which countries the manufacturing took place.
What does this 100% compostability exactly mean?
CALIDA also states that their new T-shirt is 100 percent compostable. But what does that mean exactly? How long does it take? Is is a very expensive process? Do you need specific machines for this? Does that mean you can easily dispose of the shirt on your own compost in the garden when it is no longer wearable? These were all my first, critical questions. Because if I hear the buzzword “compostable”, I am always a bit sceptical. The word “compostable” does not always mean that it is sustainable. If a lot of energy must be used to dispose of the product then it’s not really the best solution for me.
But CALIDA has done a great job here and does not just use buzzwords: The I LOVE NATURE Shirt is Cradle to Cradle Certified™, a sustainability label from the non-profit organization Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. This institute certifies products that are 100 percent recyclable. So anyone who can no longer wear the shirt can do the following:
Repair: for little problems you can of course quickly fix it yourself. Donate: If the shirt is still intact, but you don’t wear it anymore, you can of course donate it. Composting: If it’s not wearable any more, you can really just put the shirt on the compost pile. After 6-12 months, depending on the weather or season, the shirt, including the thread and labels, will have completely decomposed. Also, you will find all the details about the labels and compostability here!
Another option if you do not have compost (like me): Bring the shirt to the nearest CALIDA store. Or contact the support and send the T-shirt back for free. The company then ensures that the product is properly recycled. But since it can be composted that easily, that brings us straight to another critical question from me: If it’s so easily compostable, will it last? More in the next part:
Is the shirt durable?
Sustainability has different aspects for me. Where does the fiber come from? How is the yarn produced? Which chemicals are used? What about water consumption? Does the label (if it’s a big company) have any certificates? Where is the shirt sewn together and under what conditions? What happens if the garment is no longer worn? Does it last for a long time? Is the design created to be relatively timeless?
In particular, the last two points came to mind immediately when I read about the 100 percent compostable T-shirt. If it’s so easily compostable, will it last? Fully compostable can sometimes sound like it is a “disposable product”. You know that longevity and good quality are important to me and I always advocate buying less, choosing well and then having something that lasts for a long time. But CALIDA promises that the shirt will last as long as cotton. The company relies on longevity for all CALIDA products. Because, according to CALIDA, “the most sustainable products are the most durable”.
The design must also be sustainable, timeless and universally attractive. CALIDA has definitely succeeded here and I show you in my T-shirt lookbook here how to style it!
I’ve already washed and worn the shirt several times and can confirm that it is of very good quality, but I can not give a long-term rating yet.
Sustainability throughout the company?
Many big companies come to my door and introduce their sustainable flagship product. I always approach this very carefully. Just because one pair of jeans or a shirt out of thousands of products is sustainable does not mean that the whole company is working in an ecologically friendly way. But with CALIDA it is quite different: CALIDA already makes a lot of things in the right way. Not only is Tencel Micro used in many different products, but also e.g. Tencel bamboo and organic cotton. The Swiss company has long been committed to quality, sustainability and transparency, which I find very important. For example, many of the products have the MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX® certificate, which allows you to track exactly where and how the piece was produced. The complete children’s collection already has this label. Gradually, more and more products are always added. All materials are at least OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certified. Outside its own product lines, CALIDA also provides information on sustainability and tips on its stories page. A company that I love supporting!
Last but not the least: the price
Ok, I think so far, we all agree that CALIDA has really put a lot of emphasis on details and is already doing a lot of good things with this T-shirt. But no matter what information I present to you today, in the end, the price for the purchase plays a big role in deciding whether you will buy it. The shirt costs 44.95, – Euro – Not a price that you may be used to for T-shirts, and definitely not from fast fashion shirts. CALIDA deliberately distances itself from shirts that cost only a few euros. In addition, Tencel is simply more expensive to produce than, for example, organic cotton. However, I understand that this shirt is an investment for most of you.
As always, I do not want to constantly encourage you to buy new Fair Fashion stuff, even if it’s a paid blog post. But if you need new clothes, for example, just a new T-shirt, then I would like to introduce you to, through blog posts like this one, the best alternatives to fast fashion items. And this shirt really convinced me personally!
My conclusion: What is the most sustainable shirt?
Is it a shirt that I buy second hand, but can not really be recycled or composted? Or is it a new shirt, sustainably made, that can be easily recycled?
Overall, in my opinion a mix regarding my own consumption is important. Personally, I try to purchase basics that last a long time and are timeless, and as sustainable as possible: for example T-shirts, jeans, underwear, business fashion and longsleeves. On the one hand, I want to support labels with my money directly when they make such an effort to move in the right direction. On the other hand, I’m not very successful when it comes to second hand basics. But when it comes to special pieces, e.g. lately a velvet kimono, then I prefer to buy second-hand clothes.
What do you think? And what do you say about to the T-shirt and the concept of CALIDA? I am looking forward to your feedback!