Beers That Give Back for International Beer Day

Beer me! Friday, August 7th is International Beer Day and we’re celebrating by (1) cracking a few cold ones, and (2) celebrating Earth… because it’s the only planet with beer on it (that we know of). Beer and Planet Earth — what a dynamic duo. In fact, it’s SO dynamic that a bunch of breweries think so, too. As 1% for the planet members, these breweries care about good ingredients and good business.

What does it mean to be a 1% for the Planet Brewery?

As fellow members of 1% for the Planet, these breweries have pledged to support environmental justice with profits and products. They also taste delicious. 1% for the Planet members measure success in business by how much they’re able to give to nonprofits each year. (PS, we’re 1% FTP Members too). Here’s a round up of some of our favorite international 1% FTP breweries. 

(PSA: If we don’t name a brewery in your neck of the woods, check the 1% directory then let us know. We love new breweries.)

Bent Paddle Brewing Co

From Duluth, MN and made with water from Lake Superior and local ingredients. Their aluminum cans are made from more than 50% recycled content (and cans are lighter to ship and get about 30% more volume per truckload than glass bottles, so less of a carbon footprint!) and they’ve supported over 500 community organizations through their “Paddle It Forward” initiatives since opening in 2013. 

Maine Beer Company

From Freeport, ME — home to our Freeport Toad&Co store and our East Coast Toads (Freeport, not the brewery… kind of). This is a local’s favorite and they are all about supporting the locals. They give back to The Billion Oyster Project + 24 other nonprofits! Also, we love their tagline: “Do what’s right.” 

Topa Topa Brewing Co.

From Ventura, CA, just a hop and a skip from Toad HQ in Santa Barbara. Aside from making great beer in small batches and supporting Heal the Ocean + 22 other nonprofits, the folks at Topa (as we call it) are just downright good company. Over the years we’ve partnered up on community fundraisers and 1% FTP events and they are always game — ready and willing with smiles, high fives, and of course, cold kegs of beer. 

Tempest Brewing Co.

From South Scotland, UK, and this is some bloody good beer! In 2010 the head brewers were crafting home brews in a garage in New Zealand that was SO good, they moved back to Scotland and got serious. Fast forward to 2018 and they land on RateBeers 100 best breweries in the world, and in 2019 they became the first brewery in the UK to join 1% for the planet. This means getting involved in various projects to offset their carbon footprint and connecting with local environmental causes. Slàinte mhath! 

Moustache Brewing Co.

From Riverhead, NY, this micro-brewery based out of the east end of Long Island, NY is made up of a husband and wife team that started in 2012 as a one barrel operation. They’ve (obviously) since grown, and now support local nonprofits like the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program. ( PS – Google “Shinnecock Bay” — it’s real pretty). 

New Belgium Brewing Co.

From Fort Collins, CO, New Belgium is the grand daddy (or mammy!) of 1% FTP breweries. In 2008 it was the first brewery to join 1% for the planet and they’ve since donates hundreds of thousands of dollars from the sales of their “Fat Tire” beer to organizations like Leave No Trace and 311 others! Good beer, good intentions, and great role models. 

4 Pines Brewing Company

From Manly, Australia and they aren’t just a 1% FTP company, they’re also a Certified B-Corp, which means they meet the highest standards of social and environmental impact. Among things like sourcing sustainable and domestic ingredients from ethical farmers, 4 Pines also does an annual garbage audit (!!!) to see how much they’re recycling vs. tossing (good news, they recycle more), a water audit, and an energy audit — all with the intention of improving a little bit more every year. Also, they make great beer that supports Surfrider Foundation Australia and others. 

Hopworks Urban Brewing

From Portland, OR (another town the Toad calls home!), HUB is all about good collaborations like working with farmers for organic ingredients and seeking third-party certifications to make sure every step of the supply chain is done in a sustainable way. Which, BTW, they’ve totally nailed. In 2015 they were the first brewery in the Pacific Northwest to become a certified B-Corp member, and in 2016 they joined 1% for the Planet. Hopworks focuses their giving on water, forest, and bike related causes through special collaborations and partnerships with non-profits like Oregon Wild and 19 other nonprofits. 

MadTree Brewing

From Cincinnati, OH, MadTree might have our favorite tagline EVER: Inspiring Madness, Rooted in Purpose. And that purpose is, unsurprisingly, saving the trees. So far they have donated 15,000 saplings to regenerate the forests donate 50k pounds of spent grain to feed local livestock each week, and engage patrons of the taproom with the greatest drinking game of all time: customers can toss a buck to go to non-profits like the Arbor Day Foundation. 

Have a great International Beer Day (and a great international beer year), and don’t forget to drink responsibly! 

How to Replace Plastic Use in Daily Life

There’s a time and a place for plastic, but by and large there’s just too much plastic in the world. As a company, we do our part to reduce plastic use in our supply chain and use as much recycled polyester (i.e.: made from plastic bottles) as possible. But it’s an attitude that we can all adopt.

That’s the idea behind Plastic-Free July – a movement to inspire people to avoid most plastic items in your life for a whole month and replace them with a sustainable alternative. If you can do it for a month, you can make it a daily habit. Obviously, this July is a little different (PPE, take out, sanitizers), but there are some easy swaps you can make to reduce plastic pollution and use plastic alternatives well past July. Here’s our guide for how to reduce personal plastic use and what you can use instead of plastic.

Reusable cloth face masks

We’re all for first responders wearing the best personal protective equipment (PPE) available – plastic or not. BUT there are millions of us who are not first responders who have a much better chance at practicing physical distancing; we have more of a choice about where we go and who we interact with. We are the people who should consider making the switch from single-use PPE to reusable cloth face masks.

According to a recent study, an estimated 200 BILLION PPE items are going into global landfills each MONTH. That’s a massive number. Of course, it’s important to think about community safety, but consider the long-term safety of our oceans and environment as well. If you feel like you have enough control of your surroundings, we encourage you to switch to reusable face masks. Just be sure to wash them regularly and follow safety protocols.

Cloth & disinfectant spray instead of wipes

On a similar note, Covid or not, we’re big fans of using spray and rags instead of pre-packaged wipes. Think about how fast you go through a box of pre-packaged wipes. Now where do you throw your used wipes? You can see where we’re going here… every wipe you use ends up in a landfill. So, make the swap to an antibacterial spray and reusable/washable rags – you’ll save a mountain of trash from ending up in the landfill. As long as you’ve got enough rags on hand to never run out, the convenience of wipes is just as comparable. Create rags from old t-shirts, bath towels, and kitchen towels that have seen better days. Designate them as cleaning rags and give them a second life.

Metal or glass containers for leftovers or bulk storage

Is glass a good alternative to plastic? Yes! Metal and glass containers are a great plastics alternatives and they actually help you consume less plastic overall. When you make enough food to last you multiple meals, that’s saving you a trip to the market to get more ingredients, which, more than likely, are packaged in plastic. It’s a similar idea with buying in bulk. Bulk bins are *typically* the way to go to reduce plastic consumption, but even buying non-perishable wholesale items in bulk can really cut back on packaging.

Farmer’s Market vs. Grocery Store

Picture a farmer’s market: tents with open baskets of freshly grown food. Now think of a grocery story: aisles of stocked shelves. One has about a million times more packaging and plastic than the other. So, try to shop for as much as you can from your local farmer’s market. And look around for the items that are usually heavily packaged – lettuce, mushrooms, carrots, bread, pasta. Unpacked, local foods are zero waste products – especially if you compost!

DIY cloth and paper decorations

The funny thing about birthdays, anniversaries and graduations is that time is marching on, and they’re still happening – albeit, differently. Well consider this a great time to swap cheap plastic decorations for thoughtful, sustainable DIY decorations. Make a cute banner out of fabric scraps or sew your own pennant banner if you have some technical know-how. Have some construction paper lying around? You can make old-school birthday hats, a birthday crown, or a paper garland chain. Dive into origami and use thread to fly cranes from the ceiling. Single-use plastic is easy to avoid, and tapping into your creativity to find alternatives can be super fun. 

Good ol’ fashioned bars of soap

This is about as easy a swap as they come: bars of soap. Unlike all those big tubs of body wash, a bar of soap has little to no packaging. Look for bars of soap with paper packaging — sometimes you can find soap at your farmer’s market! If you are ordering a special soap online, we recommend at least buying bulk, so you minimize the footprint of the shipping (it’s always something, but hey we’re all trying). You can also find bars of shampoo and conditioner, and even toothpaste comes in a tablet form now. Do some digging and see what works for your skin type.

Reusable bags, bottles and straws

Yes, this is super obvious, but we have to say it juuuuuust in case someone was wondering why we should replace the use of plastic bags, plastic bottles, or plastic straws. The short answer: because they are everywhere and they are unnecessary. The long answer: Globally, 2.7 billion single-use plastic bags are used daily, 1.5 billion plastic bottles are purchased DAILY, and 500 million drinking straws are used daily. THAT’S. TOO. MUCH. Even if your part is a drop in the bucket, do your part to use reusable bags, bottles and straws EVERY time.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s an important list. Being sustainable is not about doing it perfectly, it’s about trying your best and making the swaps when you can. It’s about adopting new habits and passing them on to the next generation. And if we can find plastic alternatives today, we can start to get rid of excessive plastic tomorrow.

12 Tips to Live a Zero-Waste Lifestyle for Newbies & Fun DIY Projects

By: Pauline Williams

The term “zero-waste living” is increasingly popular these days. More of us are beginning to recognize we have one planet and it’s essential we take care of it. But if you’re just getting started on your zero-waste journey, it can feel overwhelming.

To ease your stress as you embark on zero-waste living, here are 12 tips for shifting to a zero-waste lifestyle for newbies. We’ve also included a few fun DIY projects to do at home that will help you get closer to your zero-waste goals.

1. Start Small

With any new habit, you increase your odds of success by starting small. As author James Clear discusses, small wins are key to helping people establish new habits. If you want to become a zero-waste person, you should not try to change your entire life immediately.

Begin by trying one small strategy or idea for zero-waste living at a time. Pick something easy so you won’t struggle to stick with it. Then, after a few days or a week, you can add another small change. Keep building on those small items gradually, and you’re more likely to continue. Try too much at once, and you’ll probably burn out.

2. Follow the 5 R’s

Bea Johnson’s 5 R’s for a zero-waste living provides a good foundation for a newbie looking to live a more zero-waste lifestyle. They are:

  1. Refuse (anything that produces unnecessary waste)
  2. Reduce (anything you don’t need)
  3. Reuse (anything that can be used again or repurposed)
  4. Recycle (whatever doesn’t fit in the first three categories)
  5. Rot (start composting all other waste)

If you want overarching ideas for how to reduce your carbon footprint, following the 5 R’s is a good start. All of the following tips fit into one of these five categories.

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3. Use a Reusable Water Bottle

There’s no need to buy 24-packs of plastic water bottles. Plastics make up a huge proportion of municipal solid waste. If you don’t already have one or two good reusable water bottles, this is an easy step to take to reduce your carbon footprint. Take one everywhere so you don’t have to worry about needing water while you’re out and about.

4.  Consider Carefully Before Buying New

Whatever it might be, think first before you buy something new. Do you really need it? Is there an alternative? Could you borrow the item from a friend temporarily or find a used version that’s equal in quality?

Every new item you purchase comes with packaging. You then have to figure out where to store the item, how to maintain the item, and how long to keep the item. If it’s not good quality, it’ll also end up in a landfill before very long. A great option for new apparel purchases is to look for truly sustainable clothing that will stand the test of time.

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5. Borrow or Buy Secondhand

Often, we rush to buy new stuff because it’s the easiest option available. It’s also what we’ve always done. But the borrowing culture is alive and well, and there’s no reason you can’t ask a friend or family member when you need something. Power tools, for example, might be something you only use once in a while and can borrow from a friend or neighbor.

If no one you know has the thing you’re looking for, there are plenty of ways to find secondhand items for free or for a fraction of the cost of buying new. Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Freecycle, and garage sales are a few options. If you’ve never tried thredUP or The Renewal Workshop, now’s the time to check them out for great secondhand choices. You can also check out local thrift stores and shop for vintage options. This helps keep unwanted items from going into landfills, reduces the amount of packaging waste created, and gives new life to old things.

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6. Avoid Freebies

It can be tough to resist the pull of free stuff. If you go to conferences or other events, they might be handing out free swag like coasters, keychains, and T-shirts. If you’ll actually use the items they’re giving away, then, by all means, feel free to take them. But often, these freebies are poor-quality and not made to last. So learn to say “no” to freebies; that way, the companies won’t make as many of those cheap items.

7. Use Reusable Whenever Possible

So many single-use paper and plastic products are cluttering our landfills, but they’re not necessary at all. Start rethinking your everyday habits. Try to avoid restaurant takeout that uses Styrofoam. Find reusable alternatives to paper towels, toilet paper, and hygiene products. Bring your own reusable tote bags to the supermarket. The list goes on and on.

Toad&Co has amazing reusable shippers from Limeloop you can select when ordering clothing. Made from recycled vinyl, these last for 10 years and are easy to return once your order has arrived. Plus, if you receive anything in one of Toad’s recycled polybags, you can find ways of reusing them to get more life from them.

8. Go Paperless

For your bank account and any other important accounts you hold, you’ll save a lot of wasted paper by going paperless. Companies don’t need to send you a hard copy of your monthly statements anymore; you can get all of the important information in digital format.

9. Grow Your Own Food

Gardening may not be your forte right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn new skills. Pick up seeds for a few vegetables or herbs you use regularly and learn how to grow them. You’ll cut down on the amount of food you need to buy at the supermarket and gain confidence in your own abilities.

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10. Start Composting

Speaking of gardening, begin composting as soon as possible. The EPA says that food scraps and yard clippings make up 28% of the garbage we throw away. Luckily, these can all be composted, keeping them out of landfills and helping your garden grow. Composting is a huge win in your zero-waste journey.

A careful mixture of browns, greens, and water can help you have a successful compost pile. Browns are dead leaves, branches, and twigs. Greens include vegetable and fruit scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, and grass clippings. Check out the EPA’s guidelines for more details on how to get started.

11. Cook At Home

You can reduce your carbon footprint quite a bit by simply cooking more of your meals at home. If you go out to restaurants frequently, especially for takeout that comes in disposable packaging, you’re producing a lot of waste. Cooking at home helps alleviate that problem. (It also saves you a ton of money.)

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12. Fun Home DIY Projects for Zero-Waste Living

There are a ton of items you can make yourself rather than buying. This usually reduces the amount of packaging you bring into your home and often results in a better product anyway. Start thinking outside the box and give some of these DIY projects a try!

  • Bake your own bread. It tastes amazing, and you don’t need the plastic wrapping.
  • Make your own laundry detergent.
  • Make your own home cleaning solutions.
  • Plant starter gardens in old containers (such as kitty litter tubs, yogurt cups, etc.).
  • Create reusable cloth napkins from old clothing and other gently used fabrics.

Conclusion

We all want to leave the earth a little better than we found it since it’s our home. Instead of feeling guilty about environmental issues, take that first small step, and start on your path to a zero-waste lifestyle. No one is perfect, but the more of us that start making these changes, the better off our planet will become.

Pauline Williams is a lifelong environmentalist. She’s worked for a number of nonprofits for the past decade. She’s constantly coming up with new projects and ideas to reduce waste in her home and business.

Repreve Recycled Fabrics

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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.

 

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  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.

 

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  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. 

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

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

 

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  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.

 

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

 

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**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.

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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

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! 

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

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

8 Ways to Save Water

March 22 is World Water Day, which aims to bring light to the water effects of climate change—and how everyone has a role to play in using it more efficiently. With that, here are our top Toad tips for saving that precious H20.

1. Do less laundry. We’ve always said “Dirty is the new clean” (seriously, just check out the hang tag on our new clothes). But when it does come time to freshen up, run full loads and make sure to skip the extra rinse cycle.

2. Reuse. Water that you’ve boiled pasta or veggies in is a great option for hydrating your indoor and outdoor plants! You can also make a big difference by capturing water while you wait for it to heat.

3. Grow native plants. If you’re looking to start a garden, we always recommend going native. Native plants are already perfectly accustomed to their environment, so they require less water than bringing in more traditional landscapes and lawns. They’re low maintenance, attract birds, butterflies, and other wildlife, and promote local biodiversity.

4. Take shorter showers. Easy peasy (you can also install shower heads that are designed to conserve water).

5. Run full loads only. Same tip from your washing machine applies to your dishwasher. And if you don’t have a dishwasher, double check that that faucet’s turned off as you rinse (bonus: if you have a dual sink, fill one side with hot soapy water for washing, and one with cold, clear water for rinsing).

6. Check for leaks. A slow drip from a leaking faucet can waste as much as 20 gallons of water per day. And a leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons per day (Pro tip: put food coloring in your toilet tank. If it seeps into the bowl without flushing, you’ve got a leak)!

7. Cover your pool. It reduces evaporation and can cut the amount of replacement water needed by 30 – 50%.

8. Wear organic cotton. Organic cotton uses far less water than conventional cotton to grow—and it often uses “green water” (which comes from rainwater) versus “blue water” (which is pumped in from lakes, glaciers, and snow). Shop Men’s and Women’s organic cotton clothes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is Organic Cotton Clothing?

We get a lot of questions about organic cotton clothing, sustainable fabrics, and natural fibers. They’re all interconnected, but for all our fellow fabric nerds here’s our roundup of most frequently asked questions.

What does “organic clothing” 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. So organic clothing is apparel made from organically grown fibers.

Is cotton clothing sustainable?  Is organic cotton better? 

When it comes to organic cotton vs. cotton, the difference is in the production. Conventional cotton uses 15% of the world’s pesticides. Certified organic cotton farming forbids the use of toxic chemicals, pesticides and GMOS. So yeah, organic cotton is much better for farmers, consumers, and all living things. Our organic cotton clothing is made from cotton grown in Turkey, India, and China. For us to use it, it must be GOTS or OCS certified.

What is organic cotton fabric?

Let’s lay out some basic organic cotton facts: Non-GMO, no pesticides, low-water crop. Organic cotton starts with non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) seed that’s grown without toxic chemicals, pesticides, or pollutants that can be harmful to farmers and ecosystems. Organic cotton is grown predominantly with rainwater instead of irrigated water. If it meets these criteria, cotton is certified organic. 100% of our cotton is either certified organic or recycled.

How does organic cotton conserve water?

Organic cotton uses far less water, and often uses a more sustainable kind of water called “green water.” Green water uses rainwater instead of irrigation (versus “blue water,” which is pumped in from lakes, streams, glaciers, and snow). Overall, organic cotton uses 88% less water than conventional cotton to grow.

Is organic cotton softer?

We like to think so, but there’s really no difference in hand feel. The only way to know if something is made with organic cotton is to read the fabric details tag inside the garment.

Convinced? Shop Men’s organic cotton clothing and Women’s organic cotton clothing.

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