Category: Sustainability

Repreve Recycled Fabrics

By dweb247 on June 7th 2020

We’re big fans of recycling – cutting old jeans into new styles, repurposing household objects, and recycling our polybags into dog poop bags (yeah, we’re committed). And clothing made out of recycled materials tops that list. One of our longtime supply chain partners, REPREVE®, is one of the main reasons we love recycling.

Established in 2008, REPREVE is an American company committed to turning upcycling “trashed” materials into fibers (Quick textile lesson: Fabrics are made out of fibers – some fabrics can be all of the same fibers, like 100% cotton, or a blend of fibers like 50% cotton/25% polyester/25% Tencel®. Different fibers have different performance benefits that cause fabrics to perform in different ways. Lesson over).

REPREVE makes fibers like nylon and polyester out of recycled materials, then we blend those fibers into many different fabrics across many different styles. And using recycled fibers is all part of our commitment to sustainability.

So how is REPREVE recycled polyester made?

It all starts with some uncomfortable truths about plastic bottles. About 80% of used plastic bottles end up in landfills every year – that’s 35 billion plastic bottles that get thrown away every year.

So REPREVE starts by accumulating lots of recycled PET plastic bottle at its recycling facility in North Carolina. (Another quick lesson: PET stands for polyethylene terephthalate — a form of polyester that’s derived from oil that’s molded into all sorts of consumer products). The used bottles are sorted, washed and shredded into flakes that look like fish food. The clean flakes are blended, melted, and turned into chips that are loaded in big silos. Just like a grain silo, each REPREVE silo holds the equivalent of 27 million plastic bottles.The chips enter the extrusion and texturing process, which transforms the chips into fibers with distinct performance benefits like wicking, thermal reg, odor control, and conditioning.

Okay, so how many bottles has REPREVE recycled?

Since 2008, they’ve recycled more than 20 billion (yes BILLION with a “B”) plastic bottles! Just for context: What does a billion bottles look like? If you place 8-inch plastic bottles end to end, they would circle the Earth five times. So multiply that by 20. WHOA.

When you go to the REPREVE website there’s an updated ticker counting the number of bottles that have been recycled. It’s a constant reminder that recycling your plastic bottles may seem like a small step, but that small act has become a global force. Just by recycling we can reduce plastic pollution and help to preserve natural resources by requiring less petroleum, energy and water to produce.

Speaking of other resources, what else makes REPREVE sustainable?

This process isn’t just about finding new life for recycled materials – it’s also about reducing the amount of resources used to produce new fibers. Compared to making new fibers (or virgin fibers), making REPREVE fibers offsets using new petroleum, emitting fewer greenhouse gases, and conserving water and energy throughout the production process (so if you’re wondering, “is recycled polyester safe?”, yep, it is). To give you an idea of the amount of resources using 20 billon recycled plastic bottles saves…

  • Enough energy to power 189,249 homes for 1 year
  • Enough drinking water to sustain 2.3 million people daily for 1 year
  • 517 million kilograms of C02 emissions

That makes a big difference for our future.

This sounds great, but is REPREVE certified recycled?

You betcha! It’s always good to confirm that recycled materials come from reputable sources that don’t rely on child or forced labor to collect recycled materials. REPREVE is certified by the U-Trust Verification system to certify recycled content claims.

So what’s the difference between recycled fabrics made with REPREVE vs. virgin fabrics?

Well, nothing. Recycled fibers still have the same stretch, recovery, and performance as virgin fabrics – just with a sustainability factor. We guarantee that you, our customer, won’t be able to tell the difference in the hand feel and the care instructions. It’s exactly the same. The recycled nature doesn’t inhibit the fabric or performance in any way.

Great – where can I buy recycled clothing made with REPREVE?

Lots of places! Many major retailers and companies have incorporated recycled REPREVE fibers into their product lines – Toad&Co included! Shop our men’s styles and women’s styles made with recycled fibers – we swear it feels twice as nice.

DEET vs. Insect Shield

By dweb247 on June 7th 2020

Nothing says summer quite like the bloodsucking buzz of the mosquito. And it’s not just the mosquitos — the ticks, midges, no-see-ums, ants and other creepy crawlers are just as relentless. Luckily, we humans have developed various bug repellent tactics to combat Mother Nature’s most annoying pests: lighting citronella candles, burning sage, dousing ourselves in DEET, rubbing picardin lotion all over, and our favorite, Insect Shield Technology woven right into our clothing. Before we get into why we love Insect Sheild protected clothing, let’s dive into the alternatives.

What is DEET?

DEET (or diethyltoluamide), is the most common active ingredient in insect repellents. It was actually developed by the U.S. Army in 1946 to protect soldiers in insect-infested areas, and a few years later it hit consumer shelves.

DEET works by basically taking you off of a bug’s radar. Insects can sense people and animals by detecting the air that we breathe out. DEET masks the smell and thus makes it harder for insects to find you. Sounds harmless enough, but the issue with DEET lies in the chemistry.

The compounds that make up DEET are toxic when absorbed or ingested into the human body – it’s a pesticide, after all. And if you’re rubbing or spraying DEET onto your skin, the chances to absorb are high. Though it’s not been proven by the FDA to cause cancer, DEET has been linked to skin irritation, redness, rashes, and swelling. And DEET actually stays in the body for a long time. DEET absorbed through your skin can be found in the blood up to 12 hours after it is applied. Once it’s in your body, DEET travels through the liver where it’s broken down into smaller chemicals, and finally exits through the urine. Most DEET has left your body within 24-hours of application.Because DEET is so widely used, it has been found in wastewater — and in places where waste water becomes part of the environment.

So let’s talk about the effects of DEET on the environment. First of all, DEET does not dissolve or mix with dater very well, so it needs. To be broken down by other chemical processes – even natural ones. When DEET gets into the soil it will stick to the soil unless it can be broken down by microbes, like bacteria and fungi. Like the human kidney, these microbes just break the chemicals down into smaller compounds without actually “removing” it. Like most pesticides, once it’s out in the world, it stays there. Think of it like plastic. The same thing happend when DEET is sprayed or evaporates: it will be in the air as a vapor and then begin to break down slowly in the atmosphere.

The producers of DEET have spent a lot of money trying to say that it’s not toxic, or that it’s safe for kids. But as parents and environmentalists ourselves, we don’t buy it. To be on the safe side, we avoid DEET sprays and DEET mosquito repellents and look for alternatives that do not absorb into the skin or the environment.

What is Insect Shield Technology?

The DEET alternative that we like is Insect Shield Technology that utilizes permethrin (per-meth-er-in). Permethrin has been successfully used in the United States as an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered product since 1977, with an excellent safety record. It is used in lice shampoos for children, flea dips for dogs, and various other products, some of which are regulated by the FDA. The Insect Shield process binds a permethrin formula tightly to fabric fibers which result in effective, odorless, permethrin-treated clothingfor insect protection that lasts the expected lifetime of apparel.

And best of all, it does NOT absorb into the skin. Insect Shield Repellent Apparel puts insect repellency near your skin, instead of on it, and the protection is invisible. Also, the repellency is long lasting, so no re-application is needed.

Permethrin treated Insect Shield® Repellent clothing has been proven and registered to repel mosquitoes, ticks, ants, flies, chiggers, and midges (no-see-ums). Insect Shield® Repellent Gear has been proven and registered to repel mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, and flies. The EPA requires extensive effectiveness data to prove a product’s ability to repel insects. Many species and varieties of these insects have been tested, including those that can carry dangerous diseases.

Permethrin treated clothing is not toxic to dogs or cats, and is safe for kids and toddlers – though we recommend monitoring your kids closely when you use any new products. Insect Shield Technology has been deemed safe by the EPA and has actually been used in millions of uniforms for US Military as well as in millions of permethrin-treated bed nets that are distributed globally via malaria control programs.

Check out more on Insect Shield Technologyand shop our Debug Collections for safe, permethrin clothing for men and women.

How To: Natural Tie Dye

By cwiesendanger on May 11th 2020

As optimists to the core, we are always trying to find the bright spots and silver linings in every situation—no matter how tough. We recently asked our customers what their bright spots were during this global pandemic, and here’s a common thread we kept hearing: Having more time to slow down.

Slowing down comes in many forms, but a lot of you mentioned having extra time for projects, hobbies, family, and making more sustainable choices. So we thought this would be a great time to talk about one of our favorite slow-down, sustainable activities: How to make natural dyes from food scraps (aka tie dye your clothes in the most eco-friendly way).

Using natural dyes to spruce up old clothes is a double win for sustainability: It’s an awesome way to breathe new life into old threads to save them from the landfills—and using food scraps to make the dye is an awesome (and fun) way to make use of your waste in the kitchen. You can use all types of food scraps like avocado pits, walnut shells, and beet tops, but for these instructions, we’re going with two of our favorite natural dye ingredients: onion skins and used coffee grounds.

And a big thanks and shout out to our friend Emma for sharing this step by step guide with us—she’s a textile artist launching her own upcycled clothing line, so yeah, she’s an expert (more on her below).

What you’ll need

  • •Cotton T-Shirt (organic cotton or bust)
  • •Yellow onion skins and/or coffee grounds (two of the best natural dyes)
  • •Rubber bands
  • •A non-reactive pot (stainless steel or enamel work well)
  • •Iron mordant (optional) **

 

What is a mordant?

When dyeing clothes naturally, a mordant is needed to fix your dye to your fabric—otherwise the colors will quickly wash out and fade. Iron (ferrous sulfate) is a a commonly used mordant that “fixes” and “saddens” your colors. It’s one of my favorites and can turn golds to olives and browns right before your eyes! If you’re wondering about natural dyes that don’t need mordant, onions are a great choice. Some plants (like onions) are very high in tannins (a naturally occurring mordant), and do not need additional mordanting with iron or other metallic salts. For this project, you’ll only need a mordant (and some extra lead time) if you choose to dye your clothes with coffee grounds.

To make a mordant at home:

  1. 1. Put a handful of rusty nails in a jar.
  2. 2. Fill jar with 2 parts water + 1 part white vinegar.
  3. 3. Cover and set aside until the solution turns orangey (1-2 weeks).

 

To dye your clothes:

  1. 1. Throw your tees in the wash with a pH neutral detergent (most “sensitive skin” detergents fit the bill). When they’re nice and clean, soak them in a pot of water for at least an hour, but ideally overnight.

 

 

  1. 2. Meanwhile, put your dye supplies (coffee grounds or onion skins) in a non-reactive pot, adding just enough water to cover your shirts. Bring the water to a boil and simmer (for at least an hour, but overnight if you can). For this project, I used about 10 onions worth of skin for one shirt and a half gallon bag of used coffee grounds for a second shirt (1 shirt per dye pot). It’s possible to continue dyeing with the dye pots until the color is “exhausted” (aka producing really, really light colors). You can also adjust the amount of natural ingredients to get your colors darker or lighter.

 

 

  1. 3. After your shirts have soaked, you can bind them into tie dye patterns.

 

For a bullseye pattern, pinch the center of the shirt and wrap rubber bands at regular intervals all the way down.

 

For a spiral pattern, pinch the center of your shirt and twist. Once it’s fully twisted, rubber band it in “slices.”

 

  1. 4. Strain the dye materials out of your pot, drop in your shirts, and simmer for an hour. Let cool and rinse.

 

 

  1. 5. If you’re using an iron mordant, now’s the time. Simmer 1 cup of your iron solution with water for 30 minutes (make sure you use enough water so that your shirts will be fully covered once you submerge them). Remove the solution from heat and dip or submerge your shirts – iron works quickly so this may only take a few minutes. Rinse out.

 

  1. 6. Hang to dry in a shady spot, then wash your shirts with a pH neutral detergent again.

 

 

  1. 7. Get excited to wear your new naturally dyed tees!

 

**A few safety notes: As a general rule, it’s best not to use any pots or utensils for food after they’ve been used for dyeing. If using an iron mordant, keep solution out of reach of children and pets; avoid breathing steam from an iron bath and simmer in a well-ventilated area. Iron mordant can be safely disposed of down the drain in municipal areas.

 

Once you’ve gotten this technique down, it’s easy to learn how to make natural dyes from plants and other food scraps—and the world is your oyster when it comes to things to dye. Think pillowcases, dish towels, cloth for wrapping gifts (a favorite sustainable trick—get instructions here). When sustainability meets creativity, everyone wins.

Emma Fern is a textile artist living in Burlington, Vermont. Inspired by the stories and traditions of her Appalachian ancestors, she calls upon the sustainability of age-old techniques like natural dyeing to create contemporary textiles. She’s launching her upcycled clothing line, CNTR, this summer. Follow along on Instagram @cntrcntr.

Toad Picks: CBD Products

By dweb247 on April 16th 2020

It’s no secret that we love hemp. On the fabric side of things, it’s lightweight, breathable, has great drape, very low-maintenance, and is VERY durable (your hemp clothes should last a looooong time). On the farming side of things, it’s easy to grow, relies mostly on rain water, is phytoremediative (meaning it actually improves the soil), and the whole plant can be used in production, meaning ZERO waste.

We’re not getting into the weeds (heh) about the recreational use debate (though, we DO live in California…), but we’ll throw our kudos behind the health benefits of CBD oil. (Here’s a quick refresher on the difference between Hemp vs. Marijuana vs. CBD if you need it.)

In a nutshell, CBD is a naturally occurring oil that reminds your body to calm down. It’s not a wonder drug or a cure-all, but it has been proven to help with stress, joint pain and anxiety in some people – including our very own Toads.

Like anything, there’s high quality versions and quack versions of CBD products. So if you’re wading into the waters of CBD, we recommend you look at the ingredients, look for any third-party testing, and follow the dosage directions directions – AND check the legality in your state.

We don’t pretend to be doctors (and we don’t play one on TV), so our CBD recommendations are straight from our Toads based on their experiences.

“The best topical CBD product I have ever used is Humble Flower Co – Cannabis-infused Relief Balm. The Arnica+Clary Sage scent is unbelievable. It has 200 mg CBD and 200 mg THC. It is a topical rub that you can put on aches and pains and it truly does help the muscles and joint pain. After shoulder surgery and consistent PT, I use this multiple times a day and it has really helped with my pain. I use this instead of taking over the counter pain relievers and I have found it to work very well. I have used every topical product on the market including oils, different ratios of BD/THC and this is by far the best. Not only do I love it for the quality of product and effectiveness, but it is a rub, not an oil, and is not messy at all. The last thing you want is an oil to unscrew in your purse and then you have an expensive mess (personal experience and it is not fun). I highly recommend this product and tell everyone about it that has arthritis or an injury.

I am also a big fan of The Humboldt Apothecary tinctures. The have tinctures for every use and each one has different rations of CBD to THC. I opt for the high CBD, low THC tinctures. I use these at night in my team before bedtime and find that they really help me relax and sleep better. I am a big fan of the “inflammation soother” tincture which also has anti inflammatory natural ingredients in it to help after working out or physical therapy. ” – Sarah

Papa & Barkley Releaf Balm is my go-to for a great rub on sore muscles after a big weekend of skiing or a long day of sitting at a desk chair. They have different versions with varying portions of THC:CBD. It has my favorite combination of Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Peppermint, Lavender so it smells a million times better than Tiger Balm.

Care By Design Sublingual Drops (18:1 CBD:THC) is the best sleep enhancement aid I have found. It is really mild in flavor and never leaves me ‘disoriented.’ A little goes a long way. It helps me to go to sleep and stay asleep which lets my body recover after any sport, a big hike in the mountains or a fun day on the slopes.” – Jo

If you’re easing into CBD, try a small amount and keep track of how your body and mind feel. And if you’re just not sure, think it over in some soft hemp sweats!

Clothes are Holes: How To Fix Different Types of Holes in Clothing

By tsemow on March 19th 2020

We’ve all felt the sting of a fresh rupture in one our most beloved garments. As Stanley Yelnats learns in Holes (a Toad favorite), “the first hole is the hardest.” But no matter how big or small, a hole doesn’t mean that your favorite wardrobe piece is forever relegated to laundry day and late night frozen yogurt runs (or worse – the landfill). If there was anything to learn from the wisdom of Sachar’s coming to age masterpiece, it’s to live in the moment and take each hole as it comes.

That’s why we’ve assembled this quick and easy video guide on how to repair a tear in fabric of all types:

How to fix a hole in a sweater elbow:

How to fix a hole in the inner thigh of jeans:

How to fix a big hole in a shirt:

How to fix a hole in leggings:

How to fix an iron burn hole:

How to fix a hole in a down jacket:

How to fix a hole in a sock:

Because when you really think about it, “clothes are actually just holes.”

 

And if you’re looking for repairs that go well beyond holes, check out our how-to guide on sewing buttons, hemming pants by hand, and more.

We’re all about whatever it takes to keep clothing out of the landfills. And if that means sending your clothes to someone else to repair, we’re OK with that too. Learn more about how this works through our partnership with Renewal Workshop.