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STOP! Don’t throw away your worn-out socks and underwear. Do this instead

Update Novembre 2022: After three years, Andrea decided to step back from running Basic Revolution and take some time to regroup. I’m leaving the post up in case it inspires someone to start their sustainable business journey. Happy reading! -Kristina

We all have those socks or that pair of underwear that’s just past its expiry date. Eventually you give up and throw it in the garbage, right? Well, thanks to Andrea Harney, founder of Basic Revolution, there’s a better way. You can send in those old, unwearable items for recycling right as you receive your order of sustainably-made socks to last you through the year. I was fortunate to be able to virtually connect with Andrea and get a closer look at this new and innovative way of diverting waste from the landfill. Here is a summary of our conversation:

Hi Andrea! Nice to e-meet you! Tell me more about your company and how you started it.

The idea was born when I opened my garbage one day and saw that my husband had thrown away a dozen pairs of his old black socks. I just thought – there must be a better way! SO many textiles just get sent to the landfill when they can be recycled or repurposed into something else.

Fast-forward to three years later, I’ve connected with all kinds of people to create Basic Revolution, my solution to landfill textile waste. The concept is simple: 1) order a fresh supply of quality sustainably-made socks, 2) they arrive in a box with a mailing label for recycling, 3) you fill the box up with worn-out, hole-y clothing that you’d otherwise throw out (cleaned please!), and 4) put the box in the mail. The worn-out items get sent to a textile recycler who will make sure that they are redirected appropriately and get turned into things like insulation and stuffing for car seats.

Super cool! Was it difficult to find a textile recycler?

Yes! Most of them don’t have much of an online presence and are kind of hidden and scattered all over the country. After many months of emailing and getting ignored, I finally found someone in New York who’s a good fit. In the future, we’d like to find more textile recyclers in the different regions where we serve our customers so that the products can travel less.

You mentioned that your products are sustainably made – what materials do you use?

Our socks are made out of organic cotton and bamboo. We use reputable suppliers that either have certifications or have solid reputations that were built over the course of many years. For the organic cotton socks, our suppliers form long-term relationships with their producers, share financial crop risks with them and involve workers in production decisions. They also dye the yarn and make the products in the United States. We do everything we can to make sure that we are as sustainable as is currently possible.

Sounds great, and how things should be! You mentioned that ordering a fresh supply of socks is part of the process. Is it possible to order only one pair?

We do not sell individual pairs. Customers can choose from one of our pre-selected boxes or subscribe to custom-build their own box. Our goal is to send our customers all the socks they need for the year, it’s convenient and reduces the carbon footprint of the shipping. We’re here to address any issues if there’s ever a problem with the socks that the customer receives.

Sounds fair! And last question – what is your vision for the future of Basic Revolution?

We’d like to first expand our product line and offer a full range of T-shirts and tank tops, and possibly underwear. Eventually, we’d like to grow into a healthy company that is able to pay several people fair wages, provide great health insurance and allow for upward mobility. I’d also like to build a company that’s transparent and uses its platform to educate people about sustainability and textile waste issues. In other words, start and grow a Basic Revolution!

Basic Revolution is currently available in the United States and Canada, and offers both subscription and one-time order options. You can check out their website at https://www.mybasicrevolution.com or follow them on Instagram (@mybasicrevolution).

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  • January 16, 2021 at 2:25 am

    Great to know that options like this are out there to minimize landfill use, even for socks!

    • January 16, 2021 at 1:29 pm

      I agree! Hopefully with time more textile recyclers will be available in North America as well!