Let’s cut to the chase: We never use acrylic. Not in our sweaters, not in our shirtjacs, not in our jackets – not anywhere! Acrylic fibers were invented in the 1940s as the cheap alternative to wool, and when something is cheap, it generally has a less-than-stellar footprint.
Here’s the acrylic hit list:
• Acrylic uses large quantities of chemical, water and energy to create.
• Hydrogen cyanide is a big byproduct when creating acrylic; that makes it an occupational hazard. (In fact: no companies in the US or EU make acrylic because of its toxicity to workers).
• Acrylic is nearly impossible to recycle; the fibers cannot be shredded and upcycled into new fabrics. Only full pieces of fabric can be recycled – and that’s assuming they have lasted long enough to BE recycled!
• It’s a very weak fiber in comparison to real wool; acrylic garments tend to have higher pilling and less durability than wool.
Our alternative is simple: We use REAL wool.
• Wool is durable and long lasting
• Naturally moisture-wicking and water repellent (mind blowing, but true)
• Grown by our sheep friends in non-toxic or occupationally hazardous ways
• 100% recyclable
And when it comes down to it, natural just feels better.
Natural fibers breathe better than synthetic fibers, inherently wick moisture away from the body, and if they’re harvested properly, are better for the planet. We’re proud to say that 100% of our merino wool is certified non-mulesed (which means sheared in a non-harmful way), or recycled (because recycled fibers are the true sustainability gold standard). With options like that, who needs acrylic?
We all know the word organic just feels better. But what does it really mean?
From the veggies in your fridge to the clothes in your closet, crops grown organically are grown with GMO-free seed and follow practices that maintain soil health, conserve water, and support biodiversity.
Take that apple you ate for lunch. Why is it organic? Because the entire farming system used to produce it avoided the use of man-made fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators, and livestock feed additives. We’re officially changing the old saying to go something like “an organic apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
Just like food takes the whole farming system into account, the whole apparel supply chain plays a part in determining whether that T-shirt you’re wearing is organic. Let’s start with the Holy Grail of organic textiles: The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). For an item to be organic, it must follow GOTS’ specific list of criteria through every stage of the production process – from production to processing to packaging. Here are some of the major criteria:
Organic farming cannot use any pesticides.
For comparison, conventional cotton uses 16% of the world’s pesticides. Pesticide exposure has been known to cause impaired memory, severe depression, and immune system disruption among cotton farmers. Pesticides further permeate the ecosystem, waterways and surrounding arable land. By committing to organic cotton, we’re supporting better farming practices and protecting farmers’ quality of life.
Organic growing practices also support soil and land health.
Healthy land retains more nutrients and can produce crops for more seasons than conventional land. And here’s some cool science for you: Some organic growing techniques improve the soil’s ability to sequester carbon, pulling it from the atmosphere. On organic farms, soil productivity is often preserved with cover crops instead of synthetic fertilizer, so farmers can sell these crops for additional income, making this whole process twice as awesome.
Organic agriculture uses water more responsibly.
A conventional cotton T-shirt takes 713 gallons of water to grow (enough to sustain one person for almost three years). Organic cotton uses far less water, and a more sustainable kind of water called “green water.” Green water uses rain water instead of irrigation, while “blue water” is pumped in from from lakes, streams, glaciers, and snow. Cotton cannot be certified organic unless it uses a certain amount of green water versus blue.
Organic farming supports biodiversity.
Research shows that biodiversity is greater on organic farms than conventional farms. Visit an organic farm and you’ll see more plants, flowers, insects, and butterflies. Why the abundance? Because organic farms aren’t filled with those nasty pesticides killing off natural pollinators. Living creatures are more likely to survive and thrive (PS: we’re really into bugs. Here’s more on that).
Organic farms are in it for the long haul.
Fields can’t be considered organic until they’ve committed to the GOTSprocess for at least three years. This ensures that the soil has enough time to flush all of the toxins that have accumulated. So even if you’re farming organically now, you can’t be certified after your first year – No cutting corners!
Our Verdict: Organic Cotton or bust.
Apparel production touches the lives of people at every phase of the supply chain. Our commitment to sustainable sourcing is designed to protect the planet and all people throughout the supply chain (and that includes you!). When you shop organic cotton clothing, you can feel good knowing that you support it, too. So next time you’re shopping for clothes, choose organic. Consider it the equivalent of going to the Farmer’s Market (for your closet).
There’s nothing more vintage than indigo. Going on 6,000 years, indigo dye has been used in everything from royal robes to ancient currency to the original American flag. It ages like a champ and promises to keep its cool… forever. It’s an ancient art form that traces it’s cultural roots to India and its actual roots to the Indigofera plant. Over the course of a few millennia, indigo dyeing spread from India to the rest of Asia, across the Middle East to West Africa and Europe, then finally onto North America and the Caribbean. Across the globe, you can pretty much find an iteration of indigo in every culture.
With infinite cases of indigo comes near-infinte dyeing practices. In parts of Africa and Japan, traditional communal indigo dye pits are still going strong. But more often that not, “organic commercial indigo” is made in poor, unregulated facilities that dump blue wastewater into local waterways. So as much as we love plant-based dyes, we stick to a modern synthetic blend because of it’s environmental upsides.
Our indigo dye is a synthetic dye from India and we use it to dye 100% organic cotton yarns (side note: organic cotton promotes soil health, water conservation, and forbids the use of chemical pesticides). Our indigo styles are single-dyed (which uses less water that traditional methods) and wastewater is captured and treated. No scary blue rivers here! If you’re the proud owner of indigo clothing, you know that it ages gracefully and changes slightly with every wash – so be sure to wash with like colors. And hey, if you’re into the traditional methods, grab a white shirt and try your hand at indigo-dying yourself. Like we say, indigo-for-it.
We have been celebrating Earth Day for as long as we’ve been making clothing, which (if you’re counting) is 22 years! Every April 22nd we reflect on the current state of the planet and look at how we can do our part to leave it a little better than we found it. From our deign philosophy to our customer service, we’re committed to creating a greener, more sustainable future for everyone. This year, we’re taking Earth Week (April 16 – April 22) to check-in with all our sustainability initiatives. Follow us on Instagram @toadandcoclothing for our sustainability updates throughout the week, and come say hi at our booth at the Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival!
We may be partial given that Earth Day originated in Santa Barbara, but we truly believe that our hometown has the most awesome Earth Day festival in all the land. With sustainability workshops, eco vendors, and the happy buzz of a community committed to environmental protection, the SB Earth Day Fest is a place for like minds to gather and to grow. This year we’ll have a tent by the beer garden (prime location, if you ask us), and we’re showing off our favorite new eco styles. Stop by our booth to take our polaroid #wearsustainable pledge!
If you play your cards right, you may even meet Dr. Drew, the king of customer service.
This year’s Earth Week theme is End Plastic Pollution, an initiative we have long been committed to. This season we partnered with a recycling company, Repreve, to create men’s and women’s styles made from upcycled plastic bottles. We’re putting our foot down when it comes to single use plastics, but it takes a little bit of action from everyone. So kudos to you for using reusable bags, skipping straws at Starbucks, and ditching plastic water bottles for reusable canteens. By eliminating single use plastic, we all contribute to a healthier, more sustainable planet. Every little bit counts and YOU make a difference. Happy Earth Week!
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Our Eco styles feature fibers made from recycled bottles.
We may be assuming, but we’re pretty sure that had our forefather’s predicted climate change, sustainability would be up there with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Treat the land of the free with respect this Independence Day by opting for these sustainable practices. Help to keep our communities cleaner and more conscious, from sea to shining sea.
Even George Washington Composted
That’s right, even ‘ol George was composting and using the soil for his crops at Mount Vernon. So do as George did and make sure you’re composting all those corn cobs and potato peelings. Better yet, take the holiday to build a compost bin in your own backyard. Composting your food scraps and yard waste can help divert material from your local landfill and provide good quality soil for your garden or potted plants. If you can’t commit to a whole bin, gather your scraps in a paper bag and find your local compost. It’s one of the best ways to minimize your waste every day (just ask George).
Use Reusable Water Bottles, Cups, Cutlery and Plates
You know all those red solo cups and single-use plates you see at BBQ’s across the country? Those are really, really bad for the environment. It takes about 500 years for each piece of plastic to break down in a landfill, and even longer if it ends up in the ocean. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. Not worth it. Use reusables every time you can. And if you can’t, there’s lots of great “green-ware” disposables that are made from organic matter and can easily be composted. You can find them online or in most grocery chains.
Say No To Straws!
This technically falls under the category of “don’t use one-time-use plastics”, but we wanted to highlight the issues with that little inconspicuous straw in your cocktail… it’s not so little when there are 500 million straws being used in the US EVERY DAY. That’s enough to fill 127 40-ft long school buses each day. Yikes. Go sans straw (the best option) or opt for glass, metal or compostable straws.
Kiss a Farmer (or just find a Farmer’s Market)
America was built on the shoulders of small-scale farmers. From back-country beet farmers to urban bee keepers, communities across America still have local farmers who work every day to feed you. Hit up your local farmer’s market and literally taste America. In-season veggies like tomatoes and cucumbers are great in big salads, and summer fruits like peaches and watermelons are bursting with flavor. Support local and support good farming practices. Now that’s patriotic.
Sustainable Seafood or Bust
Grilled lobsters, clam chowder, shrimp cocktails, trout over an open flame – all excellent 4th of July fare, just make sure it’s sustainably sourced. The two most important things to consider when purchasing seafood are when and how it was caught. Look for the blue and white MSC Certified icon on packages and menus; that indicates seafood that’s been responsibly caught by a certified fishery. Download the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Guide App to find what’s sustainable where you live or travel. Try to avoid imported shrimp and don’t be fooled by the word “fresh” – never buy if you can’t find where and when the fish was caught.
Ditch Your Car
With more than 253 million cars on US roadways, it makes sense why we’re the auto capitol of the world. But remember, the first explorers traversed the entire country long before our beloved automobile was invented. Let’s kick it real old school and hit the pavement by foot, bike, rollerblade (seriously, when was the last time you did that?) or public transit. If you have to drive, be sure to carpool and avoid sitting in traffic (exhaust from idling cars isn’t great for your health nor the planet’s). Enjoy the benefits of being outside and have a great 4th of July!