Fast-casual restaurant chain Chipotle is dropping a responsibly sourced goods and clothing line dyed with its old avocado pits.
The size-inclusive, gender-neutral Chipotle Goods line includes everything from denim jackets, camisoles, phone cases and lunch bags, with proceeds from the sale going toward nonprofit Textile Exchange. Proceeds from the special “avocado dye” line will go toward the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation, committed to improving food access.
For the chain, the bridges between food and fiber are obvious, and they wouldn’t dare call their departure from guac to T-shirts a “fast-fashion” line, instead favoring to stock items customers can wear for a longer time.
“Just like our crew uniforms, we wanted the Chipotle Goods apparel line to reflect our sustainable values. With an eye toward more sustainable farming, fibers for the products are grown through practices required for organic cotton farming,” said Caitlin Leibert, head of sustainability at Chipotle.
Counting more than 91,000 employees (with many new hires during the pandemic), Chipotle has supported organic cotton farmers through its uniform purchases since 2012. It is the largest buyer of Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) cotton in the U.S. from its partner Loomstate, as verified by the standard-setting organization.
The cotton grown for the Chipotle Goods collection is sourced from “many small, certified organic farms” in India and China, as Leibert shared.
Suffering a steep drop in demand overall, U.S. cotton which is grown according to the USDA’s National Organic Program, is still just a very small portion of the lot — but its environmental benefits count, in the case of Chipotle’s uniforms, 174 million gallons in water savings.
Last year, Chipotle diverted more than 47 percent of its waste from landfills last year. With an ongoing goal to divert more than half of its restaurant waste from landfills in 2020, the millions of avocado pits Chipotle is left with a year is a point of interest.
Each avocado-dyed item in the line takes up to five avocado pits. Leibert added: “This avocado pit dye is another way we are trying to repurpose our waste,” referencing the “gloves to bags” initiative diverting waste into plastic trash bags for use in its restaurants, which Leibert calls one of its first attempts into “open-looping.”
The only catch is goods are first exclusively available to Chipotle Rewards members, reportedly 15 million in all — a tactic seen in McDonald’s merch releases, which most recently included a July capsule collection of swimwear made with a mix of its recycled plastic straws and post-consumer plastic ocean waste.
Chipotle’s effort places Gen Z as the crowning audience with Depop a chosen platform to “engage with our fans” partnering with influencers at launch.
While Chipotle has faced accusations over lack of compliance regarding sick leave and minors hired without work permits bubbling up earlier this year, the company has since issued $30 million in assistance pay and bonuses to its restaurant employees so far in 2020, alongside other benefits.