COLUMBIA — Most people know the easy tips of conserving energy: recycling, driving less, using cold water in the washing machine and turning off unused lights or switching them out with compact fluorescent bulbs.
"But we’ve been told that stuff since 1996 on Nickelodeon," Jack Short, co-founder of Factory Green Inc., said. "That’s boring."
The Mizzou Green apparel is for sale at the University Bookstore. There are three T-shirt designs and one hooded sweatshirt design. T-shirts cost $26.99 each, and sweatshirts cost $54.99 each.
Short and Daniel Lyons, both MU seniors, think people find fashion a more interesting way to have an impact. In late April, they co-founded Factory Green Inc., an online, ecologically friendly clothing company.
On Nov. 12, University Bookstore began selling T-shirts and zip-up hooded sweatshirts made by Factory Green Inc.
The T-shirts are designed by MU students and will be "edgy, artsy and have more than tiger heads with Mizzou written on them," Short said. "They're by students, for students."
Factory Green Inc. is tapping into a worldwide interest in conserving and improving the natural environment, commonly known as going green. While studying abroad their sophomore year — Short in London and Lyons in four cities in Germany, France, Brussels and the Netherlands — they noticed going green was a growing international lifestyle and not just a passing fad, Short said.
“Back here, we noticed that the college generation was left out (of the movement) because of cost and apathy,” he said.
Thanks to a strong blog community, including Web sites like sprig.com, the company’s products are sought internationally, in places as varied as Canada and South Africa. The University of Ottawa and other University of Missouri campuses have expressed interest in selling Factory Green clothing in their bookstores.
The company’s T-shirts and sweatshirts are made of low-impact organic cotton and produced in facilities in India run solely on wind and solar energy by fair trade workers.
Organic cotton is grown with fertilizers that are better for the environment and with fewer toxic pesticides. It is also a thicker, softer material, making it more durable, another eco-friendly component. The shirts are screen-printed in Missouri with nontoxic dyes.
The T-shirts are also carbon neutral. The common T-shirt releases 7,600 grams of carbon dioxide during production, Lyons said, but Factory Green shirts release zero grams. The only associated carbon emissions come from transport, which amount to about 760 grams, he said.
Short and Lyons think the bookstore’s customers will be interested in alternative, eco-friendly clothing because information about fair trade and reducing carbon footprints has been widely spread.
The bookstore already sells green products such as spiral notebooks, pens, sketchpads and envelopes, including a paper product line called Elephant Poo Poo Paper that is made from elephant dung.
The bookstore decided to sell Factory Green merchandise since it is eco-friendly and offers fresh and hip graphics that appeal to the store’s 18- to 24-year-old clientele, Tiffany Anderson, assistant director for brand management for University Stores, said.
But fashion can sometimes be costly. An eco-friendly, organic cotton graphic T-shirt from Nordstrom is $60. Factory Green T-shirts are about $27 at the bookstore, in what Short said is an effort to be “eco for everyone.”
“What hits home for people is money,” he said. “We want to make it accessible to everyone and promote a sustainable lifestyle.”