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Sustainable Hangers Divert Waste from Landfills

nayelli.gonzalez headshotWords by Nayelli Gonzalez
Energy & Environment
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With all the talk about organic, fair-trade and slow fashion, one thing has been overlooked: hangers.

Starting next month, billions of one-use, virgin plastic hangers now going into landfills each year will be replaced by greener hangers through an innovative shipping and retailing program called Garments on Ditto, the outcome of a partnership between green product design company Ditto and supply chain leader OIA Global.

While sustainably minded clothing-makers and retailers have focused on innovating sustainable apparel, building LEED-certified stores and even launching garment take-back programs, little attention has been paid to what clothes actually hang on.

“Apparel companies typically focus on the clothes themselves – they don’t think about the hanger as part of the product, even though it is,” Gary Barker, Ditto’s founder and CEO, told 3p. “It’s been a blind spot. But we’re starting to bring hangers into view with our work.”

Made from 100 percent FSC-certified recycled fiberboard and soy-based inks, Ditto hangers are free of chlorine, formaldehyde and heavy metals found in conventional plastic hangers. Even more, these hangers can reduce shipping and warehousing costs by up to 20 percent, fit up to 27 percent more clothes in shipping cartons, and fit about 40 percent more clothes on retail store racks than traditional plastic hangers.

Companies such as REI, Adidas and Gap have already piloted the use of Ditto hangers in select stores.

“People think plastic store hangers are used repeatedly, but once the garment is sold, there’s no reuse,” Barker said. “With the single-use plastic hanger actually costing almost 10 cents more per garment to ship, sell and dispose of, retailers are paying a premium to send tons of plastic to our landfills.”

According to various studies, 85 percent of retail plastic hangers are thrown in the garbage – resulting in a staggering 34 billion hangers going into landfills annually, enough hangers to fill about 20 Empire State Buildings.

Ditto hangers are made of at least 70 percent post-consumer waste and are recyclable, compostable and biodegradable.

With programs like Garments on Ditto, apparel retailers can rethink the entirety of their environmental impact, as well as embrace new levels of circular economy thinking.

Image courtesy of Ditto Hangers

Nayelli Gonzalez headshotNayelli Gonzalez

Nayelli is the Founder & CEO of Creators Circle, a nonprofit working to close opportunity gaps for future generations of impact changemakers. A trained journalist with an MBA, she also keeps the pulse on sustainable business and social impact trends and has covered these topics for a variety of publications over the past decade. She’s a systems thinker who loves to learn, share knowledge and help others connect the dots. Follow her on Twitter @NayelliGonzalez.

Read more stories by Nayelli Gonzalez