Philadelphia’s United by Blue clothing manufacturer is doing business differently. The forward-thinking company has a mission: use sustainably-sourced materials and ethical manufacturing to clean up the oceans. These are truly products with a purpose. For every product purchased, United by Blue commits to removing one pound of trash from oceans and waterways. To date, they have removed more than 3.5 million pounds of trash! Their flagship location in the Old City neighborhood feels like coming home, with rugged outdoor products lining the walls and a coffee shop and community gathering area that often features live music and supper clubs, as well as cooking and embroidery classes.
Each United by Blue product is first and foremost built to last. In fact, each comes with a lifetime guarantee. The reason for this is their belief that a conscious consumer should ultimately consume less. Well made, durable products that last a lifetime prevent repetitive purchases and waste. This philosophy is continually spawning new product ideas, including their popular take-it-with-you meal kits and reusable coffee cups.
CEO and founder Brian Linton hopes the company is a jumping-off point to bring people together to talk about ideas that could change the world. He is hopeful that the response and community created in Philadelphia will only continue to grow nationally and worldwide. It seems to be working.
The day United by Blue sold their first T-shirt, they also organized a community clean-up. This is a group not afraid to get their hands dirty: even Linton hauls old tires, gathers plastic bottles, and picks up styrofoam from river banks and beaches. But the dream is to not have to do that work. There’s no doubt United by Blue wants to inspire you to live a less wasteful life, and to spread the idea that if one business can make a difference, so can one person. It’s easy to get involved, as United by Blue waterway clean-up events are as much a part day-to-day business as selling high-quality jeans, flannels, bags, and drinkware. Clean-up events are held coast to coast, from Los Angeles to New York, Denver to Austin. And if you don’t see an event near you, you can order a clean-up kit and start your own get-together.
This company is built on the idea that a for-profit company can do serious, dirty conservation work usually reserved for non-profits. As the company entered its 10th year of business, founders realized that their zero-waste, organic, leave-no-trace approach was good, but that their own supply chain had big problems standing up to the standards they wished to uphold. That realization led to the #quitsingleuse campaign, an effort that truly put its money where its mouth is, as United by Blue committed to removing all single-use plastic in their business supply chain. This meant cutting out some very common retail items such as bubble wrap, plastic tape, tags, and shrink wrap. It also meant finding creative solutions, a theme that is at the heart of this ever-changing company.
From product to action, United by Blue has set an admirable standard for blending community, environmental change, and ingenuity with high-quality, desirable merchandise.