John Tolley, October 5, 2019
Gage Mruz is selling "stained" clothing that is designed to make others green with envy, or at least envious of how green the clothing is.
The recent University of Nebraska grad is the founder of Greenstain, a social enterprise focused on sustainable solutions to environmental problems that he launched while still a student.
"Greenstain is an environmental business. We provide environmentally sustainable solutions," explains Mruz.
The first solution they're peddling is an eco-friendly line of apparel, including t-shirts and long sleeve shirts, made largely from recycled plastic water bottles and organic cotton. Greenstain shirts are sourced from a company that uses productions methods that are far less harmful to the environment than standard industry practices.
"The fashion and textile industry is one of the biggest polluting industries in the world," says Mruz. "It takes a lot of resources, whether that be water or chemicals and dyes that go into each t-shirt. So, finding a way to manufacture apparel that is eco-responsible and showing people that there is a better way to make clothes was the goal with Greenstain apparel."
But for Mruz, who screen prints all of the Greenstain gear by hand, simply creating a line of eco-friendly apparel isn't the end game. Greenstain's shirts, each bearing an artsy image redolent of the outdoors, are meant to start conversations that shake up people's lives.
"The goal is to empower society and culture to be more environmentally conscious," Mruz explains. "What we want to do is not necessarily change the way people are living, but rather inspire them to live that lifestyle. So, with our information that we're providing them with our solutions, we just want people to be aware."
Greenstain backs up their mission with action that has a direct impact on the environment. For every purchase made, the company ensures that a tree is planted. Currently, they're contributing to the reforestation of wildfire-ravaged areas of California.
For as much passion as Mruz has poured into Greenstain, he credits one entity for equipping him with the tools needed to launch his enterprise. "I owe a lot to Nebraska Innovation Studio and the university for providing resources, whether that's professors or equipment or help or just overall moral support and creating an environment that is inspiring and that really shows me that I'm capable of doing this."
Nebraska Innovation Studio is where Mruz first learned to screen print and produced the first line of Greenstain shirts. It's also where he connected with professors who mentored him in the early stages, helping him choose an agile business model that meets his needs and goals as well as helping launch a grassroots media marketing campaign.
"I wholeheartedly dedicate my start to the university and the tools and resources here," states Mruz. "They make it very easy for students who have a vision and a passion and creativity who want to get some hands-on experience. Providing that training and providing that equipment in a safe space to where you can really make it your own and do whatever you want with your visions."
With an ultimate goal of providing sustainable solutions that harmonize with daily life, Mruz hope his merchandise will draw eyes towards Greenstain's forthcoming eco-focused content. He is currently working on the rollout of a carbon footprint calculator that will allow visitors to visualize their own personal environmental impact.
"It's more than just selling t-shirts," Mruz note. "It's a mission, it's a lifestyle, and it's a smarter way of living. It's a more mutualistic way of living with the natural environment. I want to provide environmentally sustainable solutions for people and have that be the path of least resistance in their daily lives. I want to leave a green stain on the world."