A Commitment to Environmental and Social Responsibility
The key to making T-shirts – or any other type of apparel – in an environmentally and socially responsible way is to have as much control and influence over the process as possible. At HanesBrands, we manufacture approximately 80 percent of the apparel we sell in company-owned or controlled production facilities that provide jobs to employees who are respected, rewarded and encouraged to be socially active in their communities.
Follow us through the process of making a T-shirt responsibly – from the farm to production to consumer use to end of life.
Water-Wise U.S. Cotton
HanesBrands is committed to water conservation, and has reduced water use by 25 percent since 2007.
Sound water management is particularly important when it comes to cotton, which is a water-intensive crop. Nearly all of the cotton the company uses is grown and harvested in areas of the southeastern United States, where annual rainfall generally exceeds a cotton plant’s water requirements and crop irrigation is not needed.
The company is also a member of Cotton LEADSTM, which advocates for responsible raw material production.
Hanes is also investigating the use of environmentally friendly flax fibers as a partial substitute for cotton.
Low-Waste Yarn Spinning
We work to ensure that the yarn for our T-shirts is produced by our suppliers using environmentally responsible methods and in modern, energy-efficient facilities that produce as little waste as possible.
HanesBrands also strives to expand its use of sustainable materials in its products, including cotton yarns made from spinning technologies that require less energy to manufacture, recycled cotton fibers derived from cut fabric waste, post-industrial recycled cotton fibers reclaimed from the yarn-spinning process, and recycled polyester filament yarns and fibers, both from plastic bottles.
Using Renewable Energy
A large portion of the energy used to make Hanes’ T-shirts and underwear in the Western Hemisphere is generated by biomass, hydro and geothermal energy sources – and this helps the company avoid energy created by burning coal and oil.
HanesBrands owns and operates two state-of-the-art biomass facilities in its global energy portfolio. The first is a process steam biomass boiler at the company’s textiles facility in the Dominican Republic, and the second is a biomass-fueled combined heat and power system connected to its textile and sock plants in El Salvador. In El Salvador, for example, more than 50 percent of the company’s energy is generated from renewable sources.
Socially Active Employees
Most of HanesBrands’ T-shirt sewing operations are located in the Caribbean basin, including the Dominican Republic where the company has operated since 1973. That’s more than four decades of providing needed jobs, training and community support in this developing Caribbean country.
HanesBrands’ nearly 8,400 employees in the Dominican Republic – and their 50,000-plus colleagues across the globe – are committed to and play a significant role in the company’s environmental responsibility program. For example, employees regularly participate in treasure hunts and other site-level activities to identify energy-saving opportunities and ideas.
The company’s sewing employees are also very active in a unique philanthropic effort that takes environmentalism to the next level by combining it with community improvement and volunteerism. By pairing energy-reduction cost savings with monetization of Hanes’ dynamic recycling program, the company created Green for Good in 2010. Since the program’s inception, more than 11,000 employees – including those in the Dominican Republic – have donated 420,000 hours to complete nearly 70 distinct projects supported by $2.5 million in company funding. Projects have included school and hospital refurbishments, medical clinics, clean water projects, tree plantings and beach cleanups, among others.
In the Dominican Republic, the Green for Good program has also funded free medical consultations and needed surgeries. To date, more than 4,500 consultations and 830 surgeries have been performed in partnership with teams of surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and medical students from Wake Forest University/Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. Brigades travel to the country twice a year to provide eye, ear, nose and throat surgeries for HanesBrands’ employees and their families.
Reducing Carbon Emissions
HanesBrands’ energy-conservation efforts have reduced carbon-dioxide emissions by 16 percent since 2007. Additionally, the company is reducing carbon emissions from the transportation of raw materials and distribution of finished products. By emphasizing the use of ocean shipping and rail service instead of over-the-road trucking, we have reduced carbon emissions from transportation by more than 50 percent since 2008.
The Impact of Washing and Drying
Only about 30 percent of the energy and carbon footprint from a cotton T-shirt’s lifecycle comes from production, distribution and retailing. The rest is a result of consumer use – primarily washing and drying. Consumers can help mitigate the carbon footprint of their T-shirts and other clothes by washing in cold or warm water and line drying when possible.
Donating, Recycling and Alternative Uses
When a favorite T-shirt is no longer wearable, many consumers repurpose it instead of throwing it away. Each of us has likely used a T-shirt for dusting or other household cleaning duties, for example. A quick online search, however, reveals thousands of creative ways to repurpose post-life T-shirts – including such as no-sew tote bags, scarves and braided dog toys, just to name a few.
Usable T-shirts that may have simply fallen from favor can be donated to Goodwill, the Salvation Army or a variety of other non-profit organizations.
Additionally, Hanes and other apparel manufacturers continue to explore ways to create recycling opportunities to keep discarded clothes out of landfills.