Some of us find fulfillment in a big named corporation, while others struggle to find meaning in the same situation. The latter was the situation for Stuart Wood ’01, who spent 12 years after graduation helping the largest home improvement retailer successfully reinvent their business model. He loved the company and its culture, but always felt that he should be pursuing a career where he would have deeper impact on Earth and its inhabitants.
Stuart and his co-founder set out to create an apparel company they hope can stimulate dramatic change in the industry. The company, Last Bottle Clothing (www.LastBottleClothing.com), is releasing their first product line, “Restorative Shirts”, which are t-shirts made 100% from recycled plastic bottles, and are uniquely 100% recyclable too! In many years, when you are finished with their shirts, you return them to Last Bottle Clothing (LBC) and they will recycle them into new apparel, without losing raw material. As Stuart will tell you, this is the beauty of the Circular Economy at work. LBC’s “Restorative Shirts” were released on Kickstarter (www.kickstarter.com) on March 7, 2017.
Last Bottle Clothing, Public Benefit Corporation
Last Bottle Clothing was formed as a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC), allowing them to pursue the “Triple P” bottom line, which places their impact on the planet and people on par with profitability for the leadership team. Stuart wanted to ensure that as his business grew, the founding ideals would remain, so incorporating as a PBC was the natural choice.
After seeing the destructive accumulation of waste around the world, primarily in the form of plastics, the co-founders of LBC sought to lighten the ecological burden of plastics and the apparel industry on our planet. They also wanted to create an apparel product that was environmentally conscious that average consumers will want to purchase and love to wear.
It’s difficult to know if you are doing the right thing ecologically when buying your clothes. The apparel industry is often cited as the second most polluting industry globally. The damage comes primarily from the demands of cotton farming (from water consumption to the use of pesticides, insecticides, and fertilizers) and the intercontinental supply chain (did you know that each cargo ship creates the same pollution as 47 million cars?).
That is why LBC takes great care to ensure they only use recycled materials and the cleanest processes possible, and they do it all in an 85-mile radius in the US, resulting in one of the smallest carbon footprints in the apparel industry. Their “Restorative Shirts” t-shirt line removes an average of 13 plastic 500ml bottles from America’s waste stream, which would otherwise end up in landfills, on the roadside, or floating down waterways heading into our lakes and oceans.
Stuart welcomes the opportunity to speak with any fellow T-birds about the life of a social entrepreneur, so please feel free to contact him through our TIAA directory or through LinkedIn.
We’re excited to see where this adventure takes our fellow T-bird, and hopefully you are too!
Connect with Stuart here via TIAA's online alumni platform.
Special thanks to Spotlight Editor, Liz Peck '15, Team TIAA Volunteer Leadership, Spotlight ChairMore Spotlights