How to Save Water in Apparel Production

Our long term commitment to sustainability wouldn’t be what it is without our vow to save water. We’ve been reminded to turn off the sink while brushing our teeth from a young age, and we can all agree that protecting this valuable resource is more important now than ever.

We’re on a mission to cut our water usage by 100,000 liters per year by 2025. Here’s what we’re already doing, and will continue to do, to up our H2O-saving game.

Recycled Fibers

When it comes to sustainable fibers, recycled fibers are the gold standard. Virgin materials require a ton of land, energy, chemicals, and—you guessed it—water, to produce. Recycled fibers, on the other hand, rely on materials that have already gone through those resource-intensive production processes once. If you want to get in the eco-weeds, here’s how fabric is made from recycled plastic bottles.

From 2018 to 2019, we have almost doubled our use of recycled fibers. And each year, we’ll continue to raise the bar.

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Organic Cotton

A conventional cotton T-shirt takes 713 gallons of water to grow (enough to sustain one person for almost three years!). But organic agriculture uses water more responsibly. For something to be GOTS certified, it must use a certain amount of “green water” (a more sustainable kind of water, which uses rain water instead of irrigation) versus “blue water” (pumped in from lakes, streams, glaciers, and snow). Overall, organic cotton uses 88% less water than conventional cotton to grow.

100% of our cotton is certified organic or recycled, always and forever.

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Water-Wise Fibers

Fabrics that take less water to produce, such as hemp and TENCEL™, are a big win for Mother Earth. Hemp is more than the latest buzzword—it’s an epic wonder weed that relies primarily on rainwater to grow. And TENCEL™ is a plant-based fiber made from certified sustainable trees (often eucalyptus, which require far less acreage and water to grow than cotton). It’s made in a closed loop process, recycling process water and reusing the solvent at a recovery rate of more than 99%. Lenzing Modal® is another fave eco-friendly fiber of ours. The bulk of it comes from renewable beech trees which grow quickly, don’t rely on artificial irrigation, and propagate on their own.

From 2018 to 2019, we’ve more than doubled our use of hemp fibers, increased our use of TENCEL™ by over 30%, and increased our use of Lenzing Modal® by almost 40%. And our commitment to these low maintenance plants isn’t going anywhere.

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Closed-Loop Production 

In a closed loop system, products are designed and manufactured to circulate within society for as long as possible, with maximum usability, minimum waste generation, and the most efficient use of resources (ie: using our natural resources to their full potential before discarding them, and even then, discarding in a way that won’t harm the environment). In closed-loop factories, wastewater doesn’t leave the plants. Instead, it’s filtered and sent back to its own system to be reused. Fibers like TENCEL™ and Modal are processed in closed-loop systems which recover and reuse solvents.

Let’s do this, sustainability. ‘Til death do us part.

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Save the Planet, Wear Sustainable Tour: Meet Our New Master Roadtrippers

When one eco-friendly trailer door closes, another opens. While Dr. Drew’s passion for sustainability and general stoke for life have been integral to launching our Save the Planet, Wear Sustainable mobile tour, his time on the road has come to an end. While Drew returns to the Toad mothership in Santa Barbara, CA, we’re kicking off a new chapter of the tour in Freeport, ME—with a new rad couple at the wheel.

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Don’t worry, Dr. Drew always has his place on the tour.

 

Meet Rob and Rachel. Originally from Atlanta (Rob) and Connecticut (Rachel), the pair met at Appalachian State University, tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina. They most recently lived in Denver where Rob worked as a land use planner and Rachel was working with geographic information systems for the city. Now, they’re onto their next big adventure as they hit the road to spread the word about how we’re helping to clean up the apparel industry.

Toad HQ: What made you want to join the Save the Planet, Wear Sustainable tour?

Rachel: We had been tossing around the idea of a big road trip for a while now, so when we heard about the tour through my sister Sam (who works at the Toad&Co Freeport store), we knew we wanted in! I’ve been a big fan of Toad for a while now and love the word that this tour is spreading.

Rob: We’re already fans of the brand and really support Toad’s ecologically responsible practices. We really wanted to be a part of increasing awareness of the environmental impacts of the apparel industry (4th largest global polluter—real bummer) and offering an alternative (go nude, or wear sustainable clothing). It was a no brainer!

What are you most excited about in the months ahead as you lead the charge on the STP tour? 

Rob: I’m excited to see parts of the country that I’ve never been to, and engage the local communities as we raise awareness about sustainability.

Rachel: Aside from the two stops (Freeport and Chicago) on this next leg, every place will be new so I’m really stoked to see cities we haven’t been to and connect with the people in those communities.

What’s your favorite U.S. city to visit? 

Rachel: It’s always whatever’s next! Recently, we’ve spent a lot of time in Santa Fe and we love it. The sunsets, food, and hiking are killer.

What about your favorite national park?

Rachel: Rocky Mountain National Park, without a doubt.

Rob: Ditto! Living in Denver gave us the opportunity to spend plenty of time there. I’m stoked to visit new parks along the trip, especially Glacier NP and Northern Cascades NP. Who knows—maybe we’ll wrap up our time on the tour with a new favorite…

How about your favorite road trip songs?

Rob: Can’t go wrong with a long Phish or Dead jam to crush some miles!

Rachel: You’ll usually find me listening to some folk or bluegrass. There’s a lot of John Prine and Vampire Weekend in my current rotation.

Which one of you is most likely to get caught belting out your favorite tunes while driving?

Rachel: We have a few solid duets in our repertoire, but probably me!

At Toad, we stand by the idea that every day is an adventure. What are your best tips for living life this way? 

Rob: Go for it! If you’ve ever wanted to do something, you can find a way.

Rachel: And don’t wait. Just make it happen!

What outdoor activities get you most fired up?

Rob: Backpacking and fly fishing. But also into hiking, cycling, running, and climbing. I guess this is also how I live every day as an adventure!

Rachel: I love biking around to check out new spots, backpacking and hiking, and I’ve recently gotten into fly fishing with Rob.

Even the most adventurous of us need a little downtime. How do you like to spend yours?

Rachel: I love to bake (mostly pies) and garden.

Rob: Playing guitar, eating good food, and an occasional binge watch on a rainy day.

Can you share your best hacks for living life on the road sustainably?

Rob: Bring reusable cups and utensils, say “for here!” when ordering food and coffee, wear clothes a lot between washes (dirty is the new clean), and stop to make food on the road.

Rachel: We try to limit our waste as much as possible—make our own food, bring to-go containers, eat in if we don’t have them, and always say no to straws!

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The official passing of the torch (aka keys to the rig).

 

If we learned one thing from Drew, it’s that the search for the best cup of coffee and most tasty beer is critical on a long road trip (just kidding, Dr. Drew, you taught us a lot). What’s currently topping your list? 

Rachel: I’ll get a vanilla latte when I’m treating myself, and my old neighborhood coffee shop in Denver, Queen City Collective, makes the best cuppa Joe. When it comes to beer, I’m really into the Milkshake IPA right now. WeldWerks in Colorado does ’em best.

Rob: You can’t go wrong with a good IPA, clear or hazy. Right now we’re in Maine and I’m loving Lunch from Maine Beer Co. For coffee, I typically go for a local light roast in whichever city we’re in.

Have you ever gone nude in the name of sustainability (we have to ask…)?

Rachel: We haven’t yet, but anything’s possible on the tour, right?!

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What are your favorite Toad clothes to keep it comfy on the road? 

Rachel: Definitely the Hillrose Short Sleeve Shirt (in the Pink Sand Resort print) when I’m feeling fun! And the Tara Hemp Pant—the perfect summer pant. Dress ’em up, dress ’em down.

Rob: I love the Taj Hemp Short Sleeve Slim Shirt and the Rover Short!

Learn more about the Save the Planet, Wear Sustainable tour and find out if we’re coming to your neck of the woods.

 

Save the Planet, Wear Sustainable Tour: On the Road with Dr. Drew

The apparel industry is a dirty one (the 4th largest global polluter of air and water), and the way we see it, you have two options: Go nude or wear sustainable. So we’ve set out on a cross-country tour to spread the word – with our sustainably-retrofitted 1959 Shasta Trailer Buffy leading the charge and Toad Drew (aka Dr. Drew) at the wheel. We’re rolling into towns to host events with local retailers, organizations, artists, and makers to spread the gospel of sustainability. And yes, for those wondering, those are Drew’s legs on the driver’s side of the truck.

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Drew and Buffy have been on the road for 92 days (that’s around 8 thousand miles, 23 tunnel breath holds, and 98 honks), so we decided it was time for a check in with our main man to see how life on the road is treating him.

Toad HQ: Where are you now?

Drew: Somewhere in Delaware, near the Pennsylvania border. This morning I got stuck behind a horse and buggy carrying a cart of hay during rush hour. First time for everything!

What has been the most unexpected part of your trip?

How big Texas actually is! You don’t really feel the 268,597 square miles until you’re driving it with a trailer in tow.

What’s the most beautiful place you’ve seen so far?

Great Smokey Mountains, Tennessee. The Smokeys were covered with snow-capped trees and untouched wilderness as far as the eye could see. It’s the most visited national park in the nation (pro tip: free admission!). I rolled through the park at first light and as I came through the hills, the clouds settled right at the treeline, staying true to its namesake. A must see for all wilderness fans.

Can you tell us a little bit about your sidekick Buffy?

She’s a 1959 Shasta trailer – and we’ve retrofitted her interior using 100% sustainable materials like upcycled cardboard and sawdust, recycled cork, upcycled steel, and beetle kill pine for the floorboards. We keep her well lit with a rechargeable battery and solar panels. She might be sick of my personal carpool karaoke moments, but she’ll never admit it (If you want to know what I’m belting out, check out my road trip playlist).

Who’s the most interesting person you’ve met along the way?

I met a great guy named Art in Raleigh, NC. He’s originally from Kauai and is making plans to sail from Maine down to Florida. We’ve been supporting local retailers and nonprofits in every city we stop in, and I’ve met a ton of cool people through those partnerships. Everyone’s been super welcoming and it’s been great to be part of each of these communities for a few days.

With “Go Nude” written all over your ride, we have to ask…how many times have you been flashed?

Surprisingly, zero! Though one gal did tell me, “You wish you could see me naked.” Ask me how many traffic violations have been committed after seeing the rig, though. Probably thousands.

We believe it. What else have you been keeping track of? 

I’ve enjoyed 111 beers (discovering lots of rad local breweries), stayed in 19 2-star hotels, saw 85 dog sweaters in Austin, TX, and coffee intake has been too high to calculate.

Have you learned anything new about sustainability on your trip?

In Pennsylvania, we’re partnering with Stroud Water Research Center to put on events around the state. They’re an awesome non-profit that taught me a lot about organic farming. They advise on seasonal cover crop rotations (planned sequences of crops over time on the same field, which helps improve soil stability) rather than tillage (turning the soil to prepare for seeding). Soil tillage can increase the likelihood of nutrient runoff into streams and rivers and the release of greenhouse gases. Crop rotation also means fewer problems with insects and pests, preventing the need for pesticides.

How do you keep things eco-friendly while you’re on the road?

I dine in for most of my meals (relying on Airbnbs with kitchens so I can whip something up each night). I also always cruise around with a spork, a coffee/beer mug (what’s in it just depends on the time of day), and a water bottle. I shop with reusable bags (produce bags too) and bring reusable containers, like mason jars, for bulk bins at co-ops and local grocery stores.

Have you learned anything surprising about yourself along the way?

I never would have guessed I loved being on the radio! There might even be a podcast interview going live soon…

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten?

Brisket in Austin. Hands down.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve eaten?

Okra. That’s some slimy stuff!

You’ll be saying goodbye to Buffy and passing the torch to a new tour lead soon. What are you looking most forward to during the final leg of your trip?

Scoring some waves in Maine and seeing our store in Freeport (also Maine).

What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get back to Santa Barbara?

I’m going to see Father John Misty at The SB Bowl with my lady.

Which spring items have you seen flying off the shelves?

The Barrel House Hoodie (100% recycled!) and the Tara Hemp Jumpsuit.

Check out our Save the Planet tour page to see if we’re coming to your neck of the woods.

And if you want more on sustainability from Drew, see him drop all kinds of eco-knowledge about one of our favorite fibers (hemp)

Scenes from the road…

 

Konmari Your Closet

Our hangtags say it all: “Wear it out, or pass it on.” So if your old Toad isn’t sparking joy anymore, thank it for the adventures and pass it on to our partners at The Renewal Workshop. The Renewal Workshop does 4 awesome things: repairs unwanted clothing for resale, recycles old fabrics into new ones, re-uses all hardware (buttons, zippers, snaps, etc), and re-purposes fabrics that cannot be shredded by turning them into useful bags, rags, towels, etc. All in the name of keeping things out of the landfills and back into circulation! We haven’t heard specifically, but we’re pretty sure Marie Kondo approves. 

Here’s how you do it:

1. Take out all your clothes (yes, all) and assess if they spark joy or not. Keep the “heck ya!” pile.

2. For the “not anymore” pile, thank them (yes, thank them) and stick the Renewal Workshop-eligible items in a box and send them off!

3. Renewal Workshop-eligible items: Any old Toad&Co or Horny Toad (RIP) styles and anything from their 15 other partner brands! Everything else, please donate to your local thrift store. (Fun fact: most thrift stores have relationships with textile recycle centers. So never trash textiles, always recycle).

Sending via USPS mail: 
CircleBack @ The Renewal Workshop
PO Box 416
Cascade Locks, OR
97014

Sending via UPS/FedEx 
CircleBack @ The Renewal Workshop
180 NE Herman Creek Lane Suite 172
Cascade Locks, OR
97014

New Year’s Resolutions: 5 Easy Ways to Save the Planet

Start the year off right. Here are our 2019 sustainability resolutions:

01 wear sustainable

The apparel industry is the 4th largest polluter of air and water on Earth. Wearing eco-friendly or second-hand clothing can make a world of difference. We’ve got you covered: 100% of our products are made with eco materials.

02 recycle

Everything from food scraps to lightbulbs to shower water, start by cutting back on your consumption and reuse as much as you can.

03 no plastic

12 billion plastic bottles end up in landfills every year. Same for 6 out of 7 plastic bags. BYOB from here on out.

04 keep it local

Eating food sourced within 30 miles of your home cuts back on land, water and emissions pollution. Support local, support the planet.

05 ride your bike

By riding your bike instead of driving, you save 1 lb of carbon emissions for every mile you opt for 2 wheels. Bonus: it’s good for your health.

Want more? Join our movement to save the planet and download our Eco Cheat Sheet.

 

2018 by the Numbers

By the Numbers: What Made Toad&Co a Top Sustainable Clothing Brand in 2018

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Hey, Thanks!

By shopping Toad&Co in 2018, you’ve helped us do some major things. From the bottom of our tree-hugging hearts, THANK YOU for being part of the sustainable apparel movement and here’s to an already momentous 2019!

We don’t want to ruin the surprise, but as of Feb 2019 our ENTIRE LINE is eco-friendly… Get excited. Thanks again, you’re the best.

The Art of Indigo

There’s nothing more vintage than indigo. Going on 6,000 years, indigo dye has been used in everything from royal robes to ancient currency to the original American flag. It ages like a champ and promises to keep its cool… forever. It’s an ancient art form that traces it’s cultural roots to India and its actual roots to the Indigofera plant. Over the course of a few millennia, indigo dyeing spread from India to the rest of Asia, across the Middle East to West Africa and Europe, then finally onto North America and the Caribbean. Across the globe, you can pretty much find an iteration of indigo in every culture.

With infinite cases of indigo comes near-infinte dyeing practices. In parts of Africa and Japan, traditional communal indigo dye pits are still going strong. But more often that not, “organic commercial indigo” is made in poor, unregulated facilities that dump blue wastewater into local waterways. So as much as we love plant-based dyes, we stick to a modern synthetic blend because of it’s environmental upsides.

Our indigo dye is a synthetic dye from India and we use it to dye 100% organic cotton yarns (side note: organic cotton promotes soil health, water conservation, and forbids the use of chemical pesticides). Our indigo styles are single-dyed (which uses less water that traditional methods) and wastewater is captured and treated. No scary blue rivers here! If you’re the proud owner of indigo clothing, you know that it ages gracefully and changes slightly with every wash – so be sure to wash with like colors. And hey, if you’re into the traditional methods, grab a white shirt and try your hand at indigo-dying yourself. Like we say, indigo-for-it.

Tencel®: The New Performance Fabric

Mother Nature brings a lot to the table when it comes to performance. Synthetic fabrics like spandex, polyester, and nylon dominate the active wear marketplace, but plant-based fibers offer a lot of the same benefits with a fraction of the environmental costs. (Plus, nothing beats the feeling of plant-based fibers against your skin). Made from an eco-friendly eucalyptus wood pulp, Tencel® is perhaps our very favorite.

Tencel® starts with fine, water-loving fibers that quickly absorb and transport moisture away from the skin. Its cellulosic nature inhibits the growth of bacteria, which allows for stronger, longer lasting yarns. And softness. Like MEGA softness. Tencel® is akin to silk in both feel and drape, and it’s low pilling so you can wear it over and over again. Pure Tencel® fabrics are lightweight and airy (great for summer travel), while a Tencel® blend boasts excellent year-round performance (if you just can’t live without your polyester active-wear). Tencel® is 100% machine washable and won’t bag out or melt away in the dryer over time. #laundrywin

Last, and most importantly, we love Tencel® for its clean production process. The eucalyptus is grown in Europe and requires fewer pesticides and far less acreage and water than cotton. The raw eucalyptus is processed in an eco-award winning “closed loop” system that recovers and reuses 99.7% of the processing solvents. (Sidenote: the primary solvent is the nontoxic solvent amine oxide and is infinitely better than harsher solvents used in traditional viscose processes.)

Our Tencel® has been certified according to the Oeko-Tex® Standard 100, a rigorous testing, auditing, and certification system for environmentally friendly textiles. It’s also recognized by the European Union as both safe and sustainable. Can your activewear claim all that?

Forget what you thought you knew about crunchy, shiny performance fabrics – Mother Nature knows best. Shop our Men’s Tencel® and Women’s Tencel® styles and see for yourself.

Handcrafted Plaids That Make Grandpa Proud

 

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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100% Organic Cotton, 100% of the Time

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Goal Achieved: 100% of the cotton we use is certified organic!

Nothing feels better than organic cotton – it’s soft, it breathes and it feels just as good on your conscience as it does on your skin. We’ve been incorporating organic cotton into our fabrics for years, each season replacing more conventional cotton with organic. So it’s with our re-usable cups held high that we cheers to achieving our goal of 100% organic anywhere we use cotton!

Although it comes from a plant, conventionally grown cotton is actually very un-natural. According to the Textile Exchange, conventional cotton crops are doused in millions of pounds of chemicals each year – chemicals found in synthetic fertilizers, soil additives and defoliants. These substances wreak havoc on soil, water, air, and all sorts of ecosystems, including human ones. That’s a big price to pay for cotton.

Thankfully, there’s an alternative: organic cotton. Organic cotton farming does not allow the use of toxic chemicals or GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Instead, it combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote good quality of life for all involved. To ensure that we’re buying organic cotton, we only buy cotton that is certified organic. We’re also members of the Textile Exchange, a global non-profit organization that works to make the textile industry more sustainable by identifying best practices, so we’re always in the know about the latest and greatest in textile sustainability. For more information about organic cotton, visit aboutorganiccotton.org.

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Graphics courtesy of aboutorganiccotton.org, Textile Exchange

Shop Men’s Organic Cotton Styles and Women’s Organic Cotton  Styles