Adiff recently launched a trench that can transform into a tent with a side purchase of a set of poles. I know what you’re thinking. Crazy right? Let’s just take a moment to appreciate the ingenuity of a product like this. Alright, let’s continue now. The company is built on creating a circular economy and circular product lifestyle. Since taking a brief look at their website, I fell in love with its mission to enact good (which I will get to in just a bit!). I knew right away that this was a product that I wanted to review - would it live up to expectation? Is it as sustainable as it seems? How committed are they really to sustainability?
First impressions: Love it. Loved how sustainable focused they were, loved how they were creating a cradle-to-cradle model by using recycled materials. Now? It seems to be a completely different story once we look into the specifics of the Trench jacket. The product seems to be misaligned with the company’s mission and while I love the idea of buy-one-give-one, the real question is how many people are willing to buy this jacket. The jacket costs $300 but this isn’t a price that is accessible for the people that would benefit from The Trench most - the homeless and the refugees. Purchasing a tent and jacket separately could cost as little as $70. If Adiff is really as as impact driven as they want to be, the $300 could be used in a more effective manner - possibly purchasing more items or a better quality jacket and tent. Finally, tents today are normally made from nylon however, there are some tents out there that are made of canvas or cotton. This jacket isn’t cheap either and the decision to skip out on using recycled PET or any other kind of materials is not only a dent to our wallets but to the environment. The intention is there but I hope to see more effort in achieving their mission.
On the website, it says that many of their products are made from discarded UNHCR tents and life jacket materials as a result of the ongoing refugee crisis in the Middle East. However, on its product page, it says that the jacket is made from 100% nylon and on the highsnobility website, it said it was made out of recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate). I felt confused being presented with three different narratives of what this product might be made out of. I decided to examine each of them to see if there was any overlap. I found that UNHCR tents are made out of polyestercotton blend while life jackets are normally made out of polyvinyl chloride or polyethylene. The external website that said Recycled PET being the sole material seemed to confirm Adiff’s brand statement of using recycled material. There seems to be credibility established now that an external resource was able to support their materials list, as well as the fact that it explicitly said that their brand statement applied to the Trench. But that lead me to think, why would their product page say it’s 100% nylon then? I felt a disconnect between what they promoted their jacket to be and what it actually was made out of.
The other parts of the jacket include mesh back ventilation, mesh hand pockets and waterproof zippers. Mesh is generally made out of woven nylon while zippers are made out of brass, aluminum and nickel. For the Trench, the zippers are waterproof. This doesn’t mean the zippers are made out of a completely different set of materials but rather are configured differently where rubber covers the stitching.
The disconnect between what the jacket is promoted as and what it is actually made out of is profound. Nylon has a significantly larger carbon footprint than recycled PET. Unlike wood or cotton, nylon doesn’t actually exist in our natural world; part of it is derived from coal and petroleum which is enough to make me wince already. With heat, molecules are fused together in a pressure vessel to create a sheet of nylon polymer, which is then shredded into chips. The chips are then melted, spun and drawn. Manufacturing and cooling the Nylon fibers is a water-intensive and energy-intensive process. To add to that, chemical plants need to manufacture adipic acid which is a key ingredient to nylon but also releases vast quantities of nitrous oxide. Although nitrous oxide only accounts for 6% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, its 300 times stronger than carbon dioxide. A recent investigation conducted by InsideClimate News found that the amount of nitrous oxide emitted from adipic acid plants in China is equivalent to the emissions of 25 million cars - that’s more than all the cars in California, Beijing and Shanghai combined.
For each trench purchased, one trench would be donated to the homeless or a refugee - reaching almost 1000 to date. The company is built on empowering refugees and all trenches are made ethically by resettled refugees in Athens, Greece. I know it’s easy to have a distrust for a company when they use the word “ethically made” but Adiff seems to be credible in this area as their website features pictures of their employees, the wages, and has also been confirmed by reputable news sources like the New York Times. However, there is a consistent theme of disconnect that arises by their main mission and their product page. On their product page, it says that the trench is made originally in Ukraine. Their main manufacturing location is in Greece so how did the jacket end up in Ukraine? I’m honestly pretty weary of purchasing when I have no information on the Ukraine work conditions and the kind of people they employ there.