Category: Sustainability

New Legislation To Snuff Out Wildfires

By dchulst on October 13th 2017

As wildfires rage across California, the stories of lives, homes, and businesses lost are emerging from the ashes. It’s devastating and hard to fathom how, yet again, we are at the mercy of Mother Nature. There’s no predicting these natural disasters, but we can be aware of vast swaths of dry tinder and prepare our communities with ample resources should disaster strike. That is where legislation reform comes into play.

In outdoor-tourism towns across the country, the threat of wildfires looms large. The damage wrought by the fire and the insurmountable costs of fire suppression can be crippling. Many rural towns depend on healthy forests and outdoor tourism to support local economies, so a wildfire could burn zero structures but still wipe out a community’s economy for years. In July of 2016, the Sobranes Fire burned 132,00 acres along California’s central coast near popular Big Sur State Park. 57 structures burned and at its peak 5,000 personnel were assigned to the blaze. It cost over $260 million in suppression efforts alone, making it the most expensive wildfire in US history to date.

THE ECONOMICS OF WILDFIRE









U.S. Forest Service / Kari Greer

It’s not cheap to fight a fire. The cost of wildfire suppression today is around five times greater than it was in the 1980s. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 2015 was the most expensive year on record for fire suppression with spending topped over $2 billion dollars. For comparison, the average cost of fire suppression from 1985 to 1995 was about $400 million.

Why? Because fires are getting much bigger. According to a recent United States Forest Service’s report, the six worst fire seasons on record have all occurred since the turn of the century, with most western states experiencing the largest wildfires in state history since 2000.

Federal land agencies under the Department of Agriculture (including USFS) and Department of the Interior are burning through their budgets to fight these massive wildfires. In 1995, wildfire costs made up 16% of the Forest Service’s annual budget. In 2015, however, wildfire costs made up 50% of the funds allocated for fire (including education, trail management, and prevention programs).

The rising cost of wildfires perpetuates a downward spiral in which fire agencies are forced to spend their prevention budget on suppression efforts, leaving nothing in the tank to mitigate future disasters. Once the fire suppression bills are payed, many of these communities have to piece together a new economic infrastructure and way of life – this time without the aid outdoor tourism. The struggle can sometimes be too much for a community to overcome.

THE POTENTIAL IMPACT OF LEGISLATION









U.S. Forest Service / Kari Greer

The Trump Administration has proposed even more cuts to important land management agencies in its 2018 budget. These cuts include -11% to the Department of the Interior and unspecified cuts to the US Forest Service. These cuts come at a time when land management agencies are in dire need of more funding to mitigate the severe consequences of wildfire.

“A broken fire funding system takes money from the rest of the USFS and DOI budgets, which greatly impacts towns surrounded by public land,” said Diana Madson, Executive Director of the Mountain Pact, a nonprofit that advocates for mountain towns impacted by climate change and works on wildfire funding reform.

A bipartisan bill to reform wildfire funding was reintroduced to Congress on June 8, 2017, a move welcomed by the Mountain Pact, the Nature Conservancy, and other prominent environmental organizations. House Resolution 2862, the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2017, would change how the federal government funds the suppression of large wildfires, making the process more in line with how other natural disasters are funded. It is similar to the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2015, which had 150 bipartisan cosponsors in both the House and Senate but unfortunately did not go to vote before the congressional session ended.

“Wildfire funding reform is critical for the economic and environmental vitality of Western mountain communities,” said Madson. “This bill would not only provide emergency relief funding to protect our communities from more frequent and severe wildfires, but it would also significantly reduce impacts on programs that support recreation infrastructure on federal lands – the crux of our local economies.”

While this is good news, there’s a lot of work to be done to ensure that funding reform is pushed through.









Bureau of Land Management Oregon

Help Those in Need

Many of the people effected by the Sonoma County fires in California have been left with close to nothing. There are efforts in place to help those in need, and you can make monetary donations to a number of GoFundMe campaigns: Napa and Sonoma County fire Relief,Redwood Employees Impacted by Fires, and Fire Relief Napa and Sonoma Counties. If you have goods to donate, the Sonoma County Fire Department has drafted a google doc to help sort out where your donations will have the biggest impact. When it comes to natural disasters, we are all in this together.

Originally written by RootsRated for RootsRated Media, with updates by Toad&Co.

How to Have a Sustainable 4th of July

By dweb247 on June 30th 2017

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!

Earth Day in Santa Barbara

By dchulst on April 21st 2017

Nowadays everyone know’s what Earth Day is. What you may not know is that the roots of Earth Day sprouted in our hometown of Santa Barbara, California. We’re not saying we moved here because it’s the birth place of Earth Day, but we love being part of an environmentally conscious community. Birds of a feather flock together, as they say.

The very first Earth Day in 1970 was a reaction to the oil spill of 1969 just off the shores of Santa Barbara. Then US Senator Gaylord Nelson recognized the oil spill as an absolute disaster for the environment. He also recognized the general feeling of unrest among young adults around the country in response to the Civil Rights and Anti-Vietnam War movements. Harnessing the power of collective unrest, Nelson and grassroots organizations joined nation wide civil protests calling for increased environmental regulation. On April 22nd 1970, nearly 20 million Americanstook to the streets to express their discontent for the current environmental approach of their government. These rallying cried did not go unheard. By the end of 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency was born and both the Clean Air and Clean Water Act were passed. This new legislation was a massive success for the protesters and a tangible result from the first Earth Day event.

47 years later, environmental protection and the voices who rally around it face new challenges with talks of dismantling the EPA. Eerily similar to the tumultuous months of 1970, there is much discontent with the approach the current administration takes towards environmental protection. In the spirit of comraderie, this Earth Day we call on each and every lover of the great outdoors to make your voice heard. Stand up for this planet with thousands of others from your community. Find your local Earth Day event or attend a satellite March For Science. Pledge to make more sustainable choices or spend the day swapping out lightbulbs and biking all weekend. Every little bit counts and YOU make a difference. Together we are a force and together we must protect the Earth – it’s the only planet that has beer. See you out there!

Sustainability Cheat Sheet

By dweb247 on November 29th 2016

During the busiest shopping season of the year, we want you to shop responsibly. Did you know that close to 12.7 million tons of textiles end up in the landfills annually? And that the textile industry is one of highest polluting industries on the planet? Luckily, there are lots of brands devoted to making clothing that minimizes our impact on the planet. If we could, we’d go naked everywhere, all the time. But eventually we’d get cold and crabby and probably make some rash decisions. Everybody wears clothes, everybody shops and that’s okay. Just shop with knowledge and give gifts that are sustainably built and from environmentally conscious brands. So cut this cheat sheet out, commit it to memory, screen shot it, send it to your friends and family, tattoo it to your arm… whatever you have to do. Just remember, what’s good for the planet is good for you, too. Happy Holidays!









Feeling inspired? Shop our Organic Cotton Styles for Men and Women

Non-Mulesed Merino Wool Sweaters

Handcrafted Plaids That Make Grandpa Proud

By dweb247 on October 15th 2016

We’re suckers for a great plaid. Even if it’s 80° and we’re still sleeping with the fan on, when it’s October it’s plaid season. Lucky for us, plaid season starts back in the springtime, when our designers bust out their color swatches and raid Grandpa’s closet getting to work designing Toad’s fall plaids. Color by color, yarn by yarn, we craft our own plaids so that every pattern is unique to your closet and would make Granddad proud.

It all starts with the fabric and the silhouette. A heavier fabric is great for heartier plaids while lighter weight fabrics are good for smaller plaids. We scour thrift stores and old Nirvana music videos, steal flannels from our college boyfriends, and search for vintage plaids with a little kick. Then we put our spin on things.

Take our Men’s Singlejack Shirt: It’s made of a recycled cotton/ recycled polyester blend, so it’s a lightweight, breathable fabric that just begs to be worn while climbing trees or scaling rock walls (see Joel above). So as a nod to the old-school outdoor plaids of the 70s, we opted for a larger scale print and big blocks of color.

We’re also known for messing with tradition. We knew we wanted a new twist on a classic buffalo check print. So we swapped out regular cotton yarn for an organic cotton marled flannel, to give the Women’s Bodie ¼ Zip a new heathery look that’s always ready for her close-up (a la Crystal in the Bodie above). Apparently you can teach an old Buffalo new tricks!

Like a good whiskey, you can tell a good plaid by the depth of its color. We start with rich, hearty colors that remind us of nature – clay reds, pine greens, ocean blues – then run poppy accent colors every which way. That’s the warp and the weft. Imagine a loom: the warp are the stationary yarns that go up and down, the weft get woven from left to right. So change up the warp and the weft (colors, width, weave) and you’ve got endless plaid possibilities.

But with great plaids come great responsibility. Sure, you can put endless amounts of color in a plaid, but we think any more than eight and it gets a little crazy. So we start with a few good basics then hone our craft. We mess with the scale, mess with the colors, mess with the weave, round and around until we get it just right.

Finally, we nail down the perfect construction to make sure our plaid pops. Sometimes we opt for a twill – that’s a weave at an angle (makes it extra sturdy), sometimes we brush the final print for a vintage flannel look (makes it extra soft). And if we want to make our tomboy plaids feel a little more feminine, we whip up a diamond weave like our Women’s Mojacette.

Like we said, when it’s October, it’s plaid season. But like any piece of handcrafted art, a good plaid is timeless. Shop our Men’s and Women’s plaids to see what’s new this fall.