During my first year at the University of Michigan, I decided to redesign Oshki's supply chain entirely. I became more educated on the impacts of a company's supply chain and how to have the most sustainable product possible through a "Business & the Environment" course I took during my second semester. Companies preaching sustainability must work towards it across the entirety of their production. Not just within their corporate structure, but also their suppliers. Considering this universal impact is known as a circular economy.
Sadly, not enough companies focus on the impact of their production across the board - from resource extraction to final product. A company may be using sustainable methods, but if they have to ship resources from halfway across the world 2-3 different times before their product reaches a consumer, what is their true impact? If a company produces in Vietnam, but 99% of their customer base is in the US - how sustainable is their product? The fossil fuels used to ship their materials across the globe offsets a huge percentage of their claimed "sustainable methods" used in their marketing. Oshki's customers are almost entirely in the United States. When considering this, I wanted to redesign my supply chain accordingly.
Oshki's supply chain now consists entirely in the United States, from resource extraction to packaging to final product. I was inspired to use plastic waste from the Great Lakes in our clothing using recycled polyester. 22,000,000 pounds of plastic waste enter the Great Lakes every single year, a number set to triple by 2050. While recycled polyester has been produced overseas for about 25 years, it is a relatively new industry in the United States, as China just recently stopped buying plastic waste from recycling centers in mid-2018. Due to this recent development, Oshki is the first apparel company to use 100% United States plastic waste in every garment. Since we are using plastic waste from the Great Lakes and other US waterways, it would not have made sense to produce the clothing anywhere other than the United States. Below is a map with all locations within our supply chain, being transparent across the board to our customers is vital.
- Muskegon, Michigan
This is where our design team and headquarters lies. On the shores of Lake Michigan, Muskegon give us the constant reminder of the importance of the Great Lakes. We run community beach clean-ups and serve as vendors in our local community.
- New York, New York
All of our vinyl stickers are produced in New York, New York. A vinyl sticker comes with each purchase and is a way for our customers to market our brand what it means to join the group of passionate Oshki customers working to preserve the Great Lakes and beyond.
- Louisville, Colorado
All of our sustainable packaging is produced in Louisville, Colorado through our partnership with packaging company Ecoenclose. Each one of our recycled paper mailers is naturally biodegradable, recyclable, and made of 90% post consumer waste. Our tissue paper used is also produced by Ecoenclose, a paper made entirely from post-consumer & post-industrial content and is recyclable and naturally biodegradable itself. This partnership has enabled us to greatly reduce the impact of single-use packaging, a huge issue in the shipping industry.
- Hanahan, South Carolina
Our 1:1 shirts are produced in Hanahan on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Our manufacturer produces these shirts with a 50% recycled polyester / 50% cotton blend. The polyester is made of plastic waste from the Great Lakes and other US waterways, while the cotton is extracted from local farms within a 200 mile radius.
- Yadkinville, North Carolina
The Repreve plant in Yadkinville is where the plastic waste is transformed into recycled polyester. This plant has relationships with recycling centers around the United States, specifically the Great Lakes and other US waterways - where the plastic waste is shipped from. This plant processes the plastic waste into tiny chips, tiny plastic beads, and eventually polyester yarn.
- Los Angeles, California
Our hangtags and packaging postcard is produced in Los Angeles, California. This company (Uprinting) uses vibrant, professional printing to help tell our story in a meaningful way through artwork created by our design team.
- Lakewood, California
Lakewood holds our manufacturer of polyester fabric made of the plastic waste from the Great Lakes and other US waterways. This manufacturer takes the polyester yarn produced by Repreve and transforms it into long-lasting, sustainable fabric. In addition, our producer of woman's leggings has their factory in Lakewood, these leggings made of recycled plastic are set to launch in early August 2019.
The transformation of Oshki's supply chain is a moving ecosystem. We change according to the most sustainable practices we can find in the United States. Transforming to producing everything in the US is not about American exceptionalism, it is about creating the most sustainable product possible. Limiting the amount of fossil fuels needed to ship around our resources throughout their production is what apparel companies preaching sustainability need to do. The cheaper option may always be to produce overseas, but if companies are going to seriously consider sustainable manufacturing, they must consider the universal effect of its production. We hope the transformation of our supply chain inspires other companies to take the same initiative in creating a more circular economy.
Founder - Oshki.