Category: Making Good

This Is Your Brain on Nature

By dchulst on May 23rd 2018

For optimal health, the latest research keeps pointing us in the same direction: outdoors!

“Time spent in nature may also improve social bonding and reduce social violence, stimulate learning and creativity, strengthen the conservation ethic, and even help raise standardized test scores,” says Richard Louv, author of Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life

We’ve all felt that undeniable sense of peace that washes over you when you walk through a natural setting. The heart rate slows, the breath deepens, even the mind seems to slow its thoughts. We don’t need an expert to tell us that time spent outdoors makes us feel good. But how exactly does that peaceful feeling translate into wellness?

Mounting research shows spending anywhere from three minutes to three days surrounded by nature can benefit your health in a surprising number of ways. Even the simple act of walking through a local park instead of along a city street significantly slows the flow of blood in the prefrontal cortex, the command center of the brain, according to a 2015 study. (Translation: Quieter brain, happier mood.)

Other studies have found that same nature walk also can decrease the amount of the stress hormone cortisol. Just moving your workout from the gym to the outdoors gives you greater feelings of enjoyment, satisfaction and engagement, making it more likely you’ll repeat the activity, says a 2017 paper published in the Health & Place International Journal.

Finding life in Death Valley National Park. Jeff Bartlett

For those who struggle with sleep disorders, spending a weekend camping in the wilderness exposed to lots of natural light during the day and less artificial light at night can restore disrupted circadian rhythms associated with insomnia, reduced cognitive performance, mood disorders, diabetes, and obesity, according to more recent research. Spending as little as two days camping in a remote area was enough to reset participants’ internal clocks so they slept better once they returned home.

The effect on school-aged children and young adults may be among the most impressive connections between nature and wellness. Research from the University of Utah found subjects scored 50 percent better on creativity tests after spending several days in nature disconnected from devices.

Kids today spend more time indoors and on screens than ever before in human history, which means they’re spending a lot less time outdoors. Coining the term “Nature Deficit Disorder” to explain the increasing loss of connection to nature as a chronic condition that results in emotional and behavioral problems in kids, award-winning author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, Richard Louv says the cure is to turn off the screens and play outdoors, hike, fish, or camp. “The evidence indicates that experiences in the natural world may reduce the symptoms of Attention Deficit & Hyperactivity Disorder, serve as a buffer to depression and anxiety, help prevent or reduce obesity, boost the immune system, and offer many other psychological and physical health benefits,” he says.

In his most recent book, Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life, Louv offers practical advice on how to get the most health benefits from nature. “Outdoor play of any sort is preferred to a sedentary lifestyle, but the quality of the nature experience depends on how direct the experience with nature is. Are kids getting their hands wet and their feet muddy? Are they experiencing nature directly? These types of activities can help kids learn to have confidence in themselves and power to make independent decisions,” he says. “One reason for this is the risk-taking inherent in outdoor play, which plays an important role in child development.”

Take Action

Spending more time outside being active may seem difficult, but it’s more attainable than you think! Start with something small. Consider eating your lunch at work outside, rather than inside or at your desk. If possible, take a short walk after your meal and before returning to your desk. After work, a walk or jog can help clear the mind and decrease some of the stress from your day. If that doesn’t sound appealing, simply laying down your yoga mat outside and going through a few poses can decrease the amount of the stress hormone cortisol. When the weekend rolls around, or if you have a free day during the week, spending more time outside will only increase the health benefits. The more time you spend outside, the happier your body (and brain) will be! And if you are still inside looking for some inspiration to get out there, check out these documentaries for that extra boost!

Gear up for all of your active adventures here!

And if you need any more convincing of why it is beneficial to spend time outside being active, take a spin through Ben Klasky’s TED Talk below. Although his talk is focused on the benefits of the outdoors in children’s lives, the same benefits apply to adults! See you out there.

Hemp Yeah, Man

By dchulst on April 2nd 2018

There has long been a common misconception about hemp. No, it is not (just) something your older brother used to smoke out behind the garage, nor is it only good for making rope. As it turns out, hemp is actually a wonder weed. Hemp’s sustainable, durable nature makes it a great material for clothing. When made into clothing, Hemp can be softer than traditional cotton and offer an elevated sense of comfort with high marks (pun intended) for breathability and fast drying capabilities. Aside from hemp’s awesome material qualities, it’s a sustainability all-star because growing hemp uses considerably less water than conventional cotton. All our hemp is grown to organic standards and processed using non-toxic methods. We’re including hemp more and more in our fabrics and upping our usage season after season. Here are our top three reasons why making hemp clothing can help save the world:

Hemp is Strong Like Bull

We build clothing that’s meant for a well-rounded, go-anywhere lifestyle, so we need some string materials to fit the bill. Hemp is three times stronger than traditional cotton and is one of the most durable natural textile fibers out there. Using hemp fibers ensures our clothing stays on your back year in and year out.

Hemp feels so good! Featuring the Toad&Co Men’s Epique Crew Sweatshirt

Hemp is Water Conscious

Did you know that conventional cotton requires a TON of water to grow and be processed into clothing? From irrigation to cleaning to dying, conventional cotton sucks up water during every step. Luckily, hemp relies primarily on rainwater for irrigation. By reducing the water it takes to grow, hemp is easier on local water tables and requires less resources for cultivation.

Hemp Is Technologically Savvy

You’re an adventurous person, so there no telling what you might get into in your Toad&Co clothing. Whether you’re breaking a sweat (or the person next to you is…), it’s always nice to have clothing that works with you, not against you. Hemp is a natural bacterial inhibitor that helps decrease odor (score!) and wicks moisture away. It’s also a dense fiber so it provides UV resistance – no matter how lightweight your hemp blend shirt is. That’s a whole lot of tech in a natural package!

So, have we convinced you? Keep an eye out for our organic hemp styles, and remember, hemp yeah man!

Keep it comfy in hemp. Featuring Toad&Co Women’s Couvert Hemp Hoodie

Spread the Love

By dchulst on February 5th 2018

With many embracing it, some downright denouncing it, and others indifferent, the only thing we know for sure is Valentine’s Day is approaching at a rapid pace. It happens every year. You look up from Christmas and New Years, ready to catch your breath and BAM! Valentine’s day hits you with a frantic mid-week dinner reservation and a hefty expedited flower delivery receipt. We say it’s time to reset the dial on all Valentine’s days expectations, and focus on what’s really important: spreading the love!

What says I love you more than a Valentine’s Day card made from re-purposed desk supplies? We searched high and low in our office for the most card worthy desk decorators, and spruced up some old resume paper to look like the real deal. And although these Valentines turned out pretty darn well if we do say so, we did our best to drive home our true take on the day: it’s a lot more about the love you are spreading than the cards you are giving.

So this Valentine’s day, take it upon yourself to spread the love. Whether it’s making a slightly blue coworker smile, or just letting that fellow motorist merge in front of you versus the old box out, embrace the spirit of Valentine’s Day by spreading love to everyone, regardless of relationship status. And don’t forget, true love can just as easily be relayed through sticky-note hearts and a half drank bottle of tequila.

Spreading the love comes in many shapes and sizes. Recently, our little community on the central coast of California was struck by not one, but two, natural disasters. Although the disasters are over and the news trucks are gone, there are many people who could still use your help. If you’d like to spread your love to the people of Montecito, please donate to this link to help out a community facing a long road to recovery.

 

 

 

 

 

DIY Pumpkin Keg

By dchulst on October 30th 2017

You say Jack-o-Lantern, we say Pumpkin Keg. With a love of beer and a handful of random kitchen supplies, we looked at a pumpkin and saw opportunity. Advancements were made, limits were pushed, and the results were beyond our wildest dreams: a more sustainable, more portable, more festive keg. Follow these steps to make your own Pumpkin Keg. Medium size pumpkin holds a six-pack.

Step 1: Cut out the stem of the pumpkin in a hexagonal shape, with a slight tilt to the knife (you don’t want the top to fall in). Cut an opening large enough to fit your hand.

Step 2: Remove all of the pumpkin innards. Be diligent! The more seeds and insides you take out, the less floaties you’ll have in your beer!

Step 3: Carve a hole for your spigot* on the lower half of the pumpkin. The hole should be slightly smaller than the spigot diameter. Shove the spigot in the hole with as little adjusting as possible. Should be nice and tight. (*We used a spigot from an old punch dispenser. Waste not, want not.)

Step 4: Pick your poison (or your favorite adult beverage) and fill up your pumpkin keg. “Tap” your keg and cheers to your ingenuity. Happy Halloween, kids!

Shop the Men’s and Women’s Indigo Styles and BYOP (Bring Your Own Pumpkin.)

Norah Eddy: Our Sustainability Soul Sister

By dchulst on May 2nd 2017

 

From the fish you eat to the clothes you wear, informed choices are the best choices.

Our friend, Norah Eddy, is a boisterous case in point. “Knowledge is change,” Norah says. “The more you know, the greater an impact you can make.” Wave whisperer and overall sustainability badass, Norah has made it her mission to change the way we eat and source from the Mighty Blue. Her solution? A smarter kind of seafood. In 2014 she co-founded Salty Girl Seafood, a line of sustainable seafood products that are 100% traceable, down to the name of the fisherman who caught your fish.

It all started with a solid understanding of the way humans rely on natural resources. Norah grew up in a small fishing town in Rhode Island, watching fishermen make a living from the sea. She spent her formative years cutting her chops in Alaska’s expansive fisheries and a few years later she went back to school to study marine resource management at University of California Santa Barbara (that’s how we got hooked up with Norah!).

In 2012 Norah came across a study that found a third of all seafood sold in the U.S. was mislabeled. Something was fishy. “Clear traceability is the key to truly sustainable practices,” Norah says. That’s why all the seafood Salty Girl sources goes through a rigorous 6-Point Sustainability Assessment. The result? 100% traceability. For every package of Salty Girl Seafood, you can find the location where your fish was caught, the gear used to catch it and a short bio on your fisherman.

Here’s Salty Girl’s 6-Point Sustainability Assessment:

  1. Management: How is the fishery managed and enforced?
  2. Certifications: What certifications has the fishery received?
  3. Habitat Impacts: What is the gear type and its effect on environment?
  4. Bycatch: What is the effect of gear on bycatch and how is it dealt with?
  5. Socioeconomic: Are there any human rights, social or political concerns in the region?
  6. Population and Monitoring: What kinds of population monitoring and data analysis are in place?

More than a seafood company, Salty Girl is a platform on which to educate consumers and change a flawed fishing system. “You may not think much of changing the way you order fish or shop for clothes, but many splashes create a big ripple effect,” Norah says from aboard a fishing boat in San Felipe, Baja. “When you support sustainable products, you’re casting a vote in support of sustainable practices.”

In the commercial fishing industry, sustainable practices can be a matter of life and death for some species. “Keeping a healthy resource healthy is the key to sustainability” Norah reminds us, “but that cannot come at the expense of another resource.” In the Gulf of California off the coast of San Felipe, the vaquita, a small porpoise, has become an unfortunate bycatch of local fisherman. It’s a problem that’s gone so unchecked that the vaquita is now the most endangered marine mammal in the world, with an estimated 30 vaquita left. “It comes down to knowing the difference between long-term benefits and short-term gains. When you know what’s at stake, the responsible choice becomes pretty clear.”

Whether it’s understanding healthy vaquita populations or the effects of carbon emissions on climate change, it’s our job as consumers and citizens of the planet to understand the impact of our choices before we make them. For more on Norah’s work, check out her interview on the Wild Ideas Worth Living Podcast.