An ASU freshman is finding a better way to package clothing in a sustainable way.
Easton Dana, a business entrepreneurship student, is the founder of Canned Goods, a clothing company with sustainability at the forefront of its mission. He packages his T-shirts in metal cans with the goal of reducing plastic waste packing.
"The big thing about canned goods was finding sustainable alternatives to plastic packaging," Dana said.
According to WIRED, plastic packaging in the fashion industry makes up approximately 26% of the total volume of plastics created each year.
In an effort to combat the fashion industry's negative effect on the environment, Dana has pledged to help remove a pound of plastic waste from the ocean per canned tee by donating a portion of his proceeds to Team Seas and The Ocean Cleanup. Canned Goods is not associated or partnered with the two organizations.
Dana said that he wanted "to donate so that every person who bought Canned Goods could feel as though they are making a direct difference on plastic waste."
Dana had business experience before he started Canned Goods, going from selling sneakers to working for an influencer’s clothing brand called Immature Clothing. Through these experiences Dana said he saw how important packaging was for brands and how for a brand today to make it big, its packing needs to be different.
“I knew the packaging had to be different and it had to set me apart, so I was trying to find a unique way to have unique sustainable packaging,” Dana said.
Dana cited an article by Forbes that sparked his interest in starting a sustainable brand, which showed that consumers’ preference to shop sustainably has dramatically increased in the last two years.
Dana knew he wanted to start a brand of his own and began with a skateboarding brand called "Easy Skate Co." that sold skate-style streetwear; he took marketing videos at the skatepark and sponsored local skaters. He worked on this brand during high school but knew he wanted to work on something bigger after he saw how much attention he was getting.
“I was getting all this engagement and I was like well I need to grow it bigger than just skateboarding," Dana said.
He noticed how much people enjoyed unboxing things, so he wanted to find a way to stand out while also focusing on sustainability. Dana switched his brand to Canned Goods this past summer, focusing on using zero plastic in the whole process.
Dana is part of Venture Devils at ASU, a program that helps Sun Devils either start up a business or help maintain it. He said that ASU provided him with some resources for Canned Goods, such as faculty connections and access to 3D printers. ASU also provided him with pop-up shop opportunities.
Dana has had some helpful hands along the way, such as Brad Weisman, a mentor and business adviser in the New Venture Challenge class Dana was in, who has offered continuous advice through the process.
"It's more than just a cool T-shirt – it's a T-shirt that's trying to also leverage not just unique designs, but the importance of sustainability with his packaging," Weismen said.
Dana said he has received positive feedback through social media, and saw how excited people were to open their canned tees.
After customers opened their packages, they were able to reuse the cans as flower pots, cups, or pencil holders. Each T-shirt design is packaged in a can decorated with its own unique artwork and if customers don't want to reuse the can, it is 100% recyclable.
People will "plant flowers on the cans and upcycle them," Dana said. "I really designed the can with decoration and home decor in mind."
Besides the cans, orders come with an information card with facts about plastic waste and wildflower seeds.
Other companies started noticing his work and wanted to package their own clothing inside of cans, so now, Dana helps "other brands package their apparel in recycled aluminum."
One recent collaboration was with GCU, when their student government wanted to create sustainable packaging that would be recognizable during GCU's "Green Week," Dana said.
"That (sustainability) alone is really important because today you can't be a business and just make something and sell it. You have to stand for something, and he stands for something that is extremely relevant in the world we live in today," Weisman said.
Dana is also now partnering with the University, so select ASU merchandise will be in ASU-themed cans beginning next fall.
"I plan to seal ASU-themed apparel in cans and sell it both on my web store and in the bookstore by the beginning of the school year," Dana said.
Edited by Sadie Buggle, Jasmine Kabiri and Caera Learmonth.