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The Great Belt Buyback

One of our values at Unbelts is “doing more with less” - and we’ve grown, very slowly and unglamorously, living that out. In some areas of the business, the “less” has been tough - getting by with less cash. A smaller team. Less time (disclosure - I’m writing from my kitchen table at 9:48 p.m. between baby feedings). But when it comes to our manufacturing, that “less” has been a positive thing, allowing us to create a more sustainable supply chain by creating less pressure on our manufacturing team for unreasonably low costs or lightning-fast turnarounds.

We’ve been in business now for almost eight years, and I still can’t believe that there are hundreds of thousands (!!!) of Unbelts walking around out there in the world on the hips of people who, we hope, are pumped to have supported a living-wage supply chain. But over the past couple of years, the team and I have started wondering - what happens to those belts next?

Nothing lasts forever. Even the darn-toughest elastic starts to give when it’s worn every single day. Buckles, given enough of a workout, start to give out themselves. And while we love a repeat customer, we don’t want well-loved Unbelts going in the trash just to make another sale… especially when apparel waste, according to this EPA report, has doubled in the past 20 years.

So, we’re exploring ways to welcome used belts back into Unbelts HQ’s ecosystem and give them a second life. And in order to do that, we need data - in the form of belts in hand, rescued by you from the back of your sock drawer and popped in the mail to us, so we can see what we’re working with.

We’re calling this grand experiment…

THE GREAT UNBELT BUYBACK

and it’s running from today through February 29, 2020. If you have an Unbelt that’s:

  • Worn out
  • Not your colour
  • Otherwise ready for new adventures

...we want it. And we’ll pay you for it. Send your Unbelt (or Flatter:Me Belt - blast from the paaaast!) our way, and we’ll send you a $10 Unbelts gift card to use anytime this year. Spend it on a new belt now, or hang onto it until we’re able to introduce some cool new products made from our scraps, your old belts, and whatever else Nicole and Kassy come up with in our Edmonton studio.

HOW IT WORKS

It’s easy stuff because Unbelts were literally designed to be post-office-friendly.

    1. Fold your Unbelt as flat as you can and pop it in a regular letter-sized envelope with a note that includes your full name and email address (so we can send you your e-gift card). Any explanation of how long your belt was used for and any details about why you’re parting with it will be super helpful - data helps us make (and re-make) our best belts

    2. Add 2 stamps per Classic or 3 stamps per Intrepid. Based on our in-office tests*, this will be more than enough to ensure delivery to us. You may be able to save a few cents by purchasing exact postage at a post office. Address your envelope to:
      (If you’re in Canada): 9909 72 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T6E 0Z2

      (If you’re in the U.S.): 3610 W 7 St, Lawrence, KS 66049

      T6E 0Z2
        3. Wait for us to receive your belt - we’ll send you your unique $10 gift card code to spend on our website through December 31, 2020.

          FURTHER READING

          We’re not the first company to introduce material circularity to our operations, and we certainly won’t be the last - if the rest of the apparel industry’s serious about reducing its environmental and social impact, taking responsibility for our products’ full life cycles will become the norm. I’ve been deeply inspired by fellow B Corporations’ progress, especially Patagonia’s Worn Wear and Eileen Fisher’s Renew programs, and it’s really encouraging to learn that the second-hand clothing sales are eclipsing fast fashion’s. We think you’ll like these articles:

          The Future of Fashion Is Circular: Why the 2020s Will Be About Making New Clothes Out of Old Ones (Vogue, December 2019)

          Fast-fashion retailers like Zara and H&M have a new threat: the $24 billion used clothes market (CNBC, March 2019)

          Clothing retailers seizing second-hand opportunity as fast fashion fades (CTV News, December 2019)

          Eileen Fisher wants those clothes back when you’re done (Washington Post, August 2018)