Category: Uncategorized

True Nature: Your Weekly Voting Update

By cwiesendanger on August 11th 2020

Now, more than ever, every intention, every voice, every action, and every vote matters. Get in touch with your true nature, and vote like your community, people, and planet depend on it. Here’s our weekly round-up of important voting FYIs.

WEEK 7: NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION DAY

September 22 is #NationalVoterRegistrationDay, so we’d be doing everyone a disservice if we didn’t focus this week’s topic all around registering to vote. For the most part, you’re eligible to vote in U.S. elections if you:

  • • Are a U.S. citizen
  • • Meet your state’s residency requirements
  • • Are 18+ years old (BTW, in most states you can register to vote before you turn 18 if you’ll be 18 by Election Day)
  • •Are registered to vote by your state’s registration deadline
Each state has its own fine print so make sure you check your state’s election office website, but if it sounds like you are eligible then hop on that registration train! First stop: The General Election on November 3rd.
We borrowed these easy action items from these easy action items from Vote.org. Make your plan now, so you can be sure your voice is heard.

WEEK 6: THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE

The electoral college is made up of 538 electors from all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Each state has a certain number of electors based on population — California has almost 40 million people and 55 electoral votes, for instance, while Wyoming has 579,00 people and 3 electoral votes. To win the presidency, a candidate must win at least 270 votes, the majority of the electoral votes.

Electoral Vote vs. Popular Vote
The popular vote is the number of individual votes cast for a candidate — In 2016 Hillary Clinton won the popular vote with 65,845,063 votes — 2.9 million more than Donald Trump. BUT individual votes don’t elect the president — electoral votes do. It’s a winner takes all system, not majority rules.
Winner Takes All
When you vote, you are voting for where your state’s electoral votes will go. For example, in 2012 4 million Californians voted for Mitt Romney, but Barack Obama had more votes, so her took all 55 electoral votes. When it comes to states, winner takes all.
Party Polarization
The winner takes all approach is what creates the two party system: voters can’t afford to waste their vote, so they stop voting for people who reflect their values and start voting for candidates they think can win…. So we end up with a 2 party system.
Watch Patriot Act’s Hasan Minhaj break it down here.
WEEK 5: VOTE FOR THE PLANET
November 3rd is the new Earth Day. Because whatever side of the political spectrum you fall on, the environment matters — clean air, running water, and healthy forests should be a priority for all Earth dwellers (that’s you). And since we live in a democracy where we elect people to make decisions on our behalf, voting for candidates committed to environmental causes matters, too.
CANDIDATE SCORECARDS
Curious how your elected officials stack up? The League of Conservation scorecard shows elected officials’ records on voting for or against the environment.
WHAT ABOUT THE EPA?
The Environmental Protection Agency is a branch of the US government tasked with environmental protection matters; its administrator is nominated by the President and confirmed by a vote in the Senate (2 positions you can vote for). Since 2017, the EPA has set out to reverse over 100 environmental rules — and guess who’s challenging them? State, county, and city governments (yep, more positions you vote for).
Learn more about all 100 rollbacks.
THE FUTURE STEWARDS
18 million+ youth are eligible to vote in the 2020 November elections, but historically only 1 in 5 turn out to vote. So if you know any 18-25 year olds, encourage them to register and vote like their future depends on it — because it sure does.
Start ’em young — get involved.
WEEK 4: LOCAL VOTING 101
Think global, ACT LOCAL. As exciting and important as national elections are, your local elections typically have a more immediate impact on your day to day life. Here’s a quick breakdown on what you might see on your local ballot on November 3rd.
COUNTY OFFICES
Everyone lives in a county so you’ll definitely see some of these on your ballot. Counties encompass a number of neighboring towns (Bridges of Madison COUNTY, anyone?), and each county has a central infrastructure and administration that takes care of things like land and water usage, emergency response, and the budget. Here are some of the elected positions at the county:
Board of Supervisors 5 regional members who oversee all county operations and manage the budget
County AuditorOversees the county’s finances
County EngineerResponsible for transportation and public works
County Sheriff Oversees law enforcement and often responsible for managing county jails and security
District Attorney Seeks justice in criminal cases, works to prevent crime, and serves to hold law enforcement institutions accountable (!) You can learn more about DAs here.
CITY/DISTRICT POSITIONS
Within counties, cities and townships are comprised of districts that represent your district and your neighborhood (like The Hunger Games, but real). Your district will dictate which candidates are on your ballot (so if you don’t live within the city limits, the Mayor likely won’t be on your ballot). Here are some of the elected positions at the district level:
Mayor Head of the municipal government and oversees all city services and approve/veto city legislation.
City Council The primary legislative body with council members who represent each city district; the city council also appoints boards and commissions for various public works
School BoardSupervises the education system and creates policies to improve schools; made up of council members who represent each district
Water Board Oversees the water usage, sources and rates of water in a certain district

WEEK 3: GET OUT THE VOTE

Here’s the deal: there are millions of eligible voters who don’t know when the election is (Tuesday, November 3rd), where to vote (depends on your address), or what they need to vote (depends on your state). Now that YOU know, here are some ways to spread the word and get out the vote.

WORK THE POLLS

America is in the midst of a nationwide poll worker shortage. Most poll workers are over 60, and due to COVID, fewer are signing up for the job. In-person polling locations will require at least a million workers and volunteers, so it’s all hands on deck. The Toads are getting the day off to volunteer, so if you can, join us. Learn more here.

PHONE BANK

If you like a candidate, volunteer to phone bank for a few hours (or you can look for a text banking option if you’re feeling phone-shy). From the comfort of your own couch, you’ll typically call people who’ve been identified as supporters (public voting records are useful like that!) and you’ll run through a script to help them visualize their vote…

Are you planning on voting early?
What day will you vote?
How are you getting to the polling place?
Do you need a ride to the polls?
What time of day are you going to vote?
Will you be voting before or after work?
TALK TO YOUR FRIENDS
If phone banking is intimidating, simply run through that same set of questions with your friends and family. Root out the excuses and hold them (gently) accountable.

WEEK 2: WOMEN’S RIGHT TO VOTE

Even though 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing and protecting women’s right to vote, many American women of color didn’t get true voting protections until the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. So we like to think of voting as a great way to say “thanks” to the pioneers who took up the cause.

In 2020, 127 women serve in the U.S. Congress (23.7%), and hold 28.9% of statewide elective executive offices across the country. Whether your interest is running for national or local office, working on campaigns, or leadership training, we say, ‘the more the merrier’ when it comes to women stepping up in politics. Here’s an awesome list of resources we found for women looking to get involved, both locally and nationally.

WEEK 1: MAIL-IN BALLOTS

Forget what you heard on Twitter: mail-in ballots are just as copacetic as the ballot box. They’re also way less germ-y and way more convenient. Each state is different so make sure you’re signed up!

This info was pulled from Fortune.com on 8/6, but make sure to check your state’s website for updates and to find out if you need an excuse to vote by mail (yep, that’s a thing).

For more info on registering, head to vote.org.

ALL eligible voters deserve the chance to let their true nature be known. Make sure you’re registered and ready for November. Here’s a little reminder of why it’s so important:

Now, more than ever, making your voice heard matters.

And while you’re in the educating yourself type of mood, here’s a short history on voting rights. The more you know…

 
 
 

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.

The Benefits of Meditation

By natalielaurenco on May 3rd 2020

By Natalie, Sustainable Materials Manager and Toad’s resident meditation expert.

In its simplest form, meditation is the process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts. A meditation practice depends on the individual and can take many forms. Anything done with complete mindfulness and intention can become a form of meditation.

I’ve found that the swath of meditation benefits are all interconnected. For example, if I’m less stressed, I sleep better and wake up happier and more focused. Here are some other benefits of meditation, according to the experts (and corroborated by me!):

1. It can reduce stress and all of the negative side effects of stress. No more “Sunday Scaries.”

2. It improves your sleep by helping you control your ability to relax and turn off the racing thoughts in your brain.

3. It helps control anxiety, which helps keep your stress down (Seeing a pattern yet?).

4. It promotes emotional health and decreases symptoms of depression.

5. It enhances self-awareness and grows a stronger sense of self and confidence.

6. It can lengthen your attention span, increase your ability to focus, and may even reduce effects of age-related memory loss.

7. It can increase your compassion toward others and yourself by helping you focus on the ability to be kind and forgive (Like forgiving your mother for gifting your dog a squeaky toy…).

8. It can help fight addictions. Trying to give up sugar this year? Meditation might be your secret weapon.

9. It helps control pain and can even raise pain tolerance levels (Time to get that tattoo!).

10. It can lower blood pressure and boost your immune system.


The Physical Benefits of Meditation

Your body loves meditation. Study after study has found that the benefits of the mind/body connection have a lasting impact on your overall physical health. The benefits of meditation and yoga, for instance, is that they help send breath to your muscles which increases your flexibility, which decreases your chance for injury.

Meditation and running and meditation and swimming have a similar effect. When you exercise at a low-impact, consistent pace with intention, your body and mind can align to enter a state of flow – or being “in the zone.” So think of meditating like a runner’s high that you can tap into at any time.

Meditation also benefits the brain by strengthening your neural connections. When you practice the skill of mindfulness, you’re also sharpening your willpower. You can increase your attention span, manage your stress better, and master self-control.

Meditation can actually alter your brain structure – in a good way. Studies have found that meditation adds wrinkles to your cortex – the outer layer of your brain that helps us think critically and introspectively (more wrinkles = better problem solving). It can also increase the volume and density of the hippocampus – the area in the brain that helps us with our memory. Here’s a great Harvard Gazette article on the brain science behind mindfulness.


How to Meditate

This is a complex question, but luckily there are many types of meditation and many ways to incorporate a meditation practice into your life. We’ll cover some of the most basic types of meditation.

Mindfulness meditation – Keeping your attentions fixed on your thoughts and physical sensations in the present moment. This is great for meditation before bed – or in bed!

Guided meditation – Exercises guided by an instructor (or an app) to walk you through various techniques and breath work.

Body scan meditation – a guided meditation meant to sync body and mind by observing the state of your body from the crown of your head to the tips of your toes.

Transcendental meditation – this is the champagne of meditations. It’s a complex practice that involves multiple sessions per day using various mindfulness and mystical techniques – and it’s technically only taught by specialized instructors and comes with a price tag.

Loving kindness meditation – directing positive energy, compassion and goodwill toward ourselves and then toward others.

Yoga meditation – not high-intensity work-out yoga, more slow and intentional yoga designed to strengthen the nervous system. Yoga Nidra and Kundalini yoga are common forms. Extended savasana (“corpse pose”) is a founding principle of Yoga meditation.

Moving meditation – just like it sounds: keep it moving! Tai Chi, walking or gentle hiking are all forms of moving meditations.

Mantra meditation – focusing your mind through repetition. It’s not an affirmation, more of a repetition of sounds to deepen breathing and sense of peace. “Om” is just the beginning!

There are so many types of mediations, so try a few versions and find the one that feels right for you. And remember: what’s right might vary from day to day. I integrate all kinds of meditation into my life, depending on what I need or what my schedule allows.


Start Your Practice

The most important part of meditation is that you aren’t forcing it. You don’t need to practice meditation 3 times a day – even meditating for 20 minutes a day might be too much at this point. So start with a small goal – 5-minutes of mindfulness or a quick morning breathing exercise – and work your way up.

Check out my blog onmeditation techniques for beginners for some quick pointers for getting started!

Sustainable Summer Guide

By ijordantoad on June 20th 2019

Summertime is all about good times. It’s also a time to think about how to help our home planet feel some love. Check out some sustainable summering tips.

5 Ways You Can Help Save The Ocean

By cwiesendanger on June 5th 2019

Our oceans are indisputably incredible. Not only home to over 700,000 species, and an epic playground for surfers, swimmers, and beach-goers alike, but they also generate half the oxygen we breathe (we love you too, trees, but today it’s all about the sea). As the largest ecosystem on Earth, the ocean is our planet’s life support. But we all know this super blue giant is in trouble and it’s up to every single one of us to help save it. So just in time for World Oceans Day, here are 5 ways to defend our ocean.

No more plastics.

Plastic is so 1900s. If there’s one thing we’ll risk sounding like a broken record about, this is it. It’s estimated that up to 12 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans each year. That’s the equivalent of a truckload of trash every. single. minute. If we don’t take serious action, there will be MORE plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050. Now for the good part: Single-use plastic alternatives are easier to find than ever, plus we like to think they cause an amazing ripple effect (see what we did there?). When someone sees you bringing your reusable coffee mug to your local coffee shop, or busting out your reusable produce bags at the grocery store, they’ll take notice and think about their own plastic choices. Plus, it’s always smart to have a spork on hand for whatever life throws at you (and we just love saying “spork”). So bye, Felicia (forever) to water bottles, grocery bags, plastic straws, Saran Wrap, and forks. The fish will thank you.

Clean up your beaches.

If you see a piece of trash on the beach, pick it up before it makes its way into the waves (and endangers the fish, the reef, and the mermaids). And if you’re looking for something a little more organized, look for local beach cleanups through organizations like Surfrider—or better yet, grab some friends or coworkers and organize your own. And whether you live near the coast or thousands of miles away, remember that all waterways lead to the ocean so every cleanup counts.

Support ocean-friendly organizations.

Surfrider, Greenpeace, the Environmental Defense Fund, Ocean Conservancy—the list goes on, but all these orgs are working hard to make big waves environmentally and a small donation can go a long way. You can also shop brands that are members of 1% for the Planet and feel good knowing that 1% of the proceeds went straight to environmental nonprofits.

And when it comes to buying clothes, look for things like bluesign® approval (which ensures the efficient use of resources like water, energy, and chemicals during dyeing and finishing processes), and companies that use closed-loop processes, which reduce waste and use natural resources to their full potential before they’re discarded. Take Tencel® for example: It’s made from certified sustainable eucalyptus wood pulp, which is processed with nontoxic solvents wherein 99% of the solvents are recovered and recycled to make yarn. The great news is more and more companies are catching onto this idea of circular fashion. Zero waste for the win (and more info on the sustainable materials we use here)!

Check that carbon footprint.

Warmer waters are a real bummer for marine species and coral reefs. Bike to work, take the stairs, bundle up rather than cranking the heater, unplug your devices when they’re not in use, shop locally. All kinds of small changes in your day-to-day life can add up to make a big difference and help prevent the ocean from turning into one giant jacuzzi. Bonus: Lots of states offer credits for making energy efficient improvements to your home (energy-efficient light bulb moment, right?).

Enjoy seafood sustainably.

Overfishing has become commonplace and is hugely disruptive to the balance of marine ecosystems globally. But the U.S. is the third largest seafood consumer in the world, giving us serious power to influence global fisheries. If you’re buying seafood, do it purposefully and don’t hesitate to ask questions about how it was caught. You can also look for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) labels, which ensure your fish can be traced back to sustainably-managed farms and fisheries. At Toad, we’re big fans of Seafood Watch for shopping guides and even super delicious sustainable recipes. And same goes for meat—if you choose to eat it, do your research to make sure you’re supporting responsible producers and distributors.

Our waters are troubled, but saving them is within our reach!