by Michael dEstries
Categories: Fashion.

Kicking off Monday with a little fashion news, we received a tip that Banana Republic has a new line of “eco-friendly” clothing that’s taking baby steps towards really being green.

Take for instance their new tank tops labeled as “an eco-friendly staple this season“. They are made from 87% cotton, 8% spandex, and 5% organic cotton. A source has revealed to us that these shirts “come in plastic bags that most of the stores just throw away because they can’t recycle.” Are we seeing here a classic case of greenwashing?

I guess it really depends on how you view their efforts. On one hand, BR is incorporating sustainable materials such as organic cotton, soy silk and bamboo that previously were not purchased for any percentage of their clothing empire. On the other, labeling something ‘eco-friendly’, even though 95% of it is not, seems a bit of a reach. Alessandra Brunialti, Banana Republic’s vice president of design for women, had this to say via The LA Times,

“A year ago, when we started this, we were trying to be super pure about it — have everything be completely organic,” she said. “And it was all becoming too much to do at once. Then our mantra became ‘One step at a time.'”

The lesson here is do your homework. If you really want to shop green, make sure you take a look at the labels so that what you’re buying actually makes sense for the planet. Something with 5% organics that comes wrapped in plastic might not make the cut.

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

View all posts by Michael dEstries →
  • Carmen

    Looking over some of their products, there are a few with 100% organic cotton, such as a scarf currently available online, but it angers me that they use a huge sign in their stores to make money off of the new trend. At least they’re donating money to charity with these tanks.

  • Lindsey

    So instead of taking a third pound of pesticides to produce, this shirt probably only took a quarter pound!

  • Carmen

    Yeah, not considering the CO2 required to ship it and produce the plastic wrap that protects the shirts from being eaten by moths during shipment.

  • howard gabe

    When I opened my first organic cotton and hemp retail clothing store in 1990, Just putting a joint in the pocket of the hemp shirt was enough. There were very few manufacturers of 100% pure
    sustainable products. The revolution was in it’s infacy. Don’t be so judgemental about a company that is trying to do the right thing, in time they will do better, at least they are doing somethiong about the problem. The Eco revolution is still ongoing.
    As the creator and co producer of the 4th Global Eco Trade Show, I inviite you all to attend for free.
    Please see

  • Coral Rose

    The Organic Trade Association sent out a bulletin yesterday to their members from the USDA/National Organic Program.
    Here is the text:

    FTC regulations allow special fiber content claims to be made at the 5% threshold level. Can I label my clothing “made with organic cotton” if they only have 5% organic cotton?

    No. The NOP regulations require at least 70% certified organic content for products to be labeled as “made with organic [ingredients].

    That should answer the question around this 5% claim. Make no mistake Banana Republic is not the only manufacture, brand or retailer to be led down the questionable 5% path. Many, including Nordstrom now make such claims.

    This should be a wake-up call to them to immediately start using at least 70% organic cotton in their products.

    Regarding “1/3 pound of pesticides to produce.” This is an often misused incorrect–outdated fact.
    Please visit the four part series on my blog entitled “Organic Cotton Fact Check”

    Coral Rose

  • Waylon Lewis

    Amen, Howard.

  • molly

    I have the same feelings about some of Pottery Barn’s new merchandise. I’ve been a PB employee for almost three years and recently they’ve come out with this “green” line of products like glass containers to keep food in, aluminum water bottles and reusable lunch sacks. While it’s great to see some awareness, it’s ridiculous of how wasteful that store really is. each item comes individually wrapped in plastic, every two months we throw away multiple boxes of catalogues because they make too many, and the amount of paper they throw away each day is mind-boggling. I’ve taken home truck-fulls of paper, catalogues, plastic, etc. from the store many times just so i wouldn’t have to be the one to throw it away there. it’s amazing to me that out of the 30+ employees, I’m the only one who cares enough to go that extra step and try and make a difference. Please be aware of greenwashing!

  • Jennae Petersen

    Unfortunately so many companies are jumping on the “green” bandwagon, and for many consumers, all it takes is hearing the word “green” for them to believe that a company is really eco-friendly. I have a blog about green home decorating at, and I try to be very conscientious about listing products that back up the reason they are “green” and show a genuine effort toward green practices. I try to educate myself before jumping on the bandwagon. But there are a lot of people who won’t take the time to do that.

    Visit for eco-friendly home decor products and tips!