OR THE GREAT SUSTAINABILITY SWINDLE
We’re not sustainable and we don’t want to be. Think about it. Why would we want to sustain this?
Surely we want to make it better, not to sustain, to cling on - like the poor plants on my desk, hanging on for dear life. I’m not so much a plant killer, more a torturer, a slow and painful fade into a crumpled and lifeless, brown-black demise. That’s sustainability baby! Maintaining a status quo. Perpetuating the consume and destroy nightmare of linear extraction. Eking it out indefinitely - just put us out of our misery already.
And hands up, we said it too. We said we wanted to be sustainable like all the others, because that’s the word people know - it means something. It’s a shorthand for what we used to call ‘green' or ‘eco-friendly'. These phrases now sound at best naïve, at worst vague and misleading. And guess what, sustainable is no better.
Sustainability™ as Alec Leach (Author of The World Is On Fire But We’re Still Buying Shoes) calls it, can be out and out green washing but more often it’s sustainability as a story, a trend. An undefined bunch of something that incorporates all the vague hopes and fears of our modern existence. So if that wasn’t just a click-baity title and sustainability really isn’t what we want, what is?
Circularity is the aim and ‘Making cycling circular’ would have made such a great claim, however as of this writing it’s just not true. Which is a real shame as not only would it look great on a t shirt, it would fit with the Parietti mantra - LOOK GOOD FEEL GOOD DO GOOD BE GOOD - a circular repetition, a cycle no less, feeding itself, improving with each pass, on each level form the micro, individual, personal to the macro, societal global. Making you look good, so that you feel good, while doing good and going on to be good and look good… But no, we're not there. Yet.
We’re in the process of setting up our (paid) repair service but that’s not even the issue, because that’s not circularity, not really. That’s just extending the line of linear extraction, eking it out with a little loop at the end. And beware, because you can justify anything with the extension of this line!
A common claim in sustainability speak amongst our contemporaries is that because it’s so hard to be genuinely sustainable, meaning zero impact, instead let’s put the effort into preserving the life of the garment, extending its existence beyond the usual lifespan of disposable fashion, with quality and production. You see how easy it is to then justify any amount of evil with this ethos? Any harmful production process is vindicated in its hypothetical future life, in the extending of that line. To where?
True circularity would be allowing us to make brand new jerseys, whole ranges of new garments from the old, truly freeing us from the crude oil that’s at the start of this line. Because let’s not forget that although for every jersey we’re recycling 7.2 plastic bottles and feel very pleased about it too, thank you very much! For each of those plastic bottles there’s still crude oil as the source of their production. Sadly, there have been reports of factories making plastic bottles just to ship them, unused, to the recycling plant so that they can claim, indeed truthfully, that the polyester is made from recycled plastic bottles. That’s sustainability™!
Rest assured our recycled plastic bottles are from genuine used bottles. But again they’re still plastic bottles. Ultimately our supply chain still relies on extracting crude oil. There is hope though. Presca sports wear, a UK based label, who together with innovative new recycling company, Poseidon plastics, the University of Teesside and environmental consultancy firm ENV23, recently trialled a chemical recycling process where different types of polyester sports clothing were turned back into the building blocks known as BHET with a high level of purity. Read more on the Running Industry Alliance website here:
So as the Presca team say “There’s no doubt there are some challenges to address before the closed-loop process is perfected for bottles and clothing, but this trial has shown that the principle is sound and gives us a lot of confidence that for all the polyester elements of our clothing we’re very close to being able to recycle them into virgin quality clothing (or other products).”
Cycling is an indicator of progress - If you ever speak to someone who bemoans the adding of cycling lanes to their town or city, you know you are speaking to the enemy. Or rather to break the tired and unhelpful model of ‘us and them’, you’re speaking to someone who clearly hasn't experienced the pure joy of gliding through an urban environment, cutting through the traffic and the noise, a silent blood vessel, no! An electrical impulse firing across the synaptic gap of the city. A pure packet of potential, information, emotion and intention on its way to do some greater good for the body-whole. Or at least on its way to get home and get the dinner on.
So which do we choose? To progress or to sustain? Do we choose to sustain this, the selfish status-quo or do we step up and take responsibility for our actions? Because this is where it starts, with responsibility. The idea that someone else is going to sort it out is sadly not the case. Hell! The Billionaires have already checked out. Mars or the Metaverse they’re gone. For them it’s a foregone conclusion and all they want to know is how they can make enough money to escape the problems they caused by making all their money in the first place.
So it’s up to us, the calm and responsible ones. And yes we appreciate the idea that you can change the world with a pair of cycling shorts might seem a bit of a stretch (pun intended) but listen we’re doing everything we can and that’s more than most. Because this is not our eco range or our sustainable capsule collection. We’re not presenting a garment made with X% recycled materials as a truly sustainable option.
We’re not retroactively trying to make up for the damage we’ve already caused.This has been our absolute primary concern from the very start. Every decision made went through the Parietti Responsibility filter. We set out from the first sketch, to make our clothes as responsibly as possible. From the people who physically put them together, to the planet they were made on, we have really considered every impact at every stage.
All our garments are Made in the Med. With fabric manufacture kept close to the garment manufacture. The supersoft recycled fabric for our premium Men’s and Women’s Jerseys’ is produced in Italy. With the Jerseys themselves made in Portugal. Our Freerider Cargo Shorts fabric and composition is all from Italy. And here we have a case in point - The reason you’re still not yet able to buy a pair of shorts to pair with your Parietti Jersey is that we simply couldn’t find a recycled version of the cargo mesh needed for the pockets. It took literally months to find one of suitable quality that would also perform to the high standards we demand. And you know a lesser brand would have used non recycled mesh and still called it the Sustainable™ Cargo Short. You’d have had to dig pretty deep in their website before you found out it wasn’t totally sustainable.
And it doesn’t stop at the shorts, our forthcoming Tech Tee’s are like the Jerseys, recycled performance fabric from Italy, made in Portugal. The Socks and Base Layers are available now with fabric from Spain and manufacture in Italy. Creating limited edition runs isn’t a gimmick it means we are super careful with ordering so that we produce no waste on zips and trims. It’s the extra level of care that we feel sets us apart. Things you might not even notice, like how we elluminated hang tags and thank you postcards. This was so hard for our designers but they had to let go.
A final example. We could have got compostable poly bags for our jerseys from the factory, it would have been easy and ticked our Sustainable™ box, but Paul looked into it, he wanted to be sure. So he spoke to the factory, were they really compostable, as in you or I can put it in our food bin. They thought so, but honestly, they didn’t know. Did he quit? No! He tracked down the manufacturers of these bags and guess what? Can you guess? They’re only compostable in industrial conditions. That’s Sustainable™. Finally he found the home compostable Polybags that your jersey comes shipped in from Better Packaging. It took longer, it’s more expensive and inconvenient for us but it’s important. It’s responsible.
You see this is not a concession to a trend or the ticking of a box, this is a core belief underpinning everything we do. And while we don’t want to be ‘that guy’, we don’t want to whine about it or worse, bore you with it. Just as we don’t want to make enemies with our contemporaries. But like I said, it’s not us and them, it’s all of us together or bust. Scarcity got us into this mess, it's not going to get us out. Collaboration, understanding and responsibility might just get us out.
To be the responsible one might not sound cool, but the relentless reckless rebel of the 20th Century no longer seems very appropriate either - we’ll swap the greased hair and leather jacket for a yellow raincoat and plaits. The responsible rebel is the new hero. Not counter cultural but omni-cultural, unifying and unique at once an icon and an everyman.
So let’s do it, let’s be it, let’s take responsibility for our actions and ride out with energy and enthusiasm on our path from sustaining to thriving. To making our world the healthy, happy, beautiful home it can be.
By supporting Parietti you’re showing that a new way is possible, that we can drive systemic change in our industry and the world. Showing that you don’t have to live in fear, in denial. Responsibility means being aware of it, accepting it and owning it. It also means acting on it. To take responsibility for making it better. Responsibility takes more work but it is worth it, it feels better than recklessness, than selfishness . Responsibility and cooperation: that's community.
We wanted to be sustainable from the start and we were. Now we're looking forward, we’re responsible for our future.
That’s Parietti. Premium freeride cycle clothing made as responsibly as possible to protect the places we ride and set everybody free.