Polybags Suck

Polybags suck. Something we can all agree on, right?

We hate plastic as much as you do. But the prevalence of the notorious polybag is a reality we face in the clothing industry. That little bag your clothes showed up in is key to keeping them safe from damage during transit, warehousing, and shipping. Without them, much of the product would arrive damaged and then comes the big, bad L word (aka it ends up in a landfill).

We are always working to make the best decisions for the environment and for our customers, and – real talk – the polybag that each garment is wrapped in is currently our biggest challenge.

Here’s what we’re doing to address it.

  • •Since the beginning, we’ve made our polybags from recycled plastic.
  • •A few years ago, we audited our bags to reduce the amount of plastic used. We made the bags as thin as we possibly could and reduced the overall average size.
  • •We removed the individual polybags completely from all shipments of samples sent to HQ – and are working with other key partners to ship their products without polybags.
  • •We’re currently in the middle of another audit that will lead to less, and even smaller, polybags in future seasons.
  • •We’re constantly thinking creatively about how to get a second or third life from the bags. We moved the little ventilation holes up to the top of the bag so that it can be reused as a doggy pick-up bag or for your dirty clothes on a weekend getaway (keep reading for more on that).

 

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But what about alternatives?

The short answer: The current alternative options just don’t match up to our sustainability requirements. And there isn’t enough research yet to prove that alternative options are actually better.

Here’s the long answer: Believe it or not, alternative materials (like compostable plastic) are often not as awesome as they sound. Most compostable plastics (this goes for cups and silverware too) can only be composted in industrial compost facilities, which are rare in the U.S. And even if they make it as far as an industrial composter, they take much longer to break down than the true organic waste. What does this mean?

  • •This can end up causing issues like slowing down the turnover of the facility by causing employees to pull out the compostable plastics to put them back in with the next load of organic waste. Sometimes this takes 5-6 cycles before the plastic is fully broken down!
  • •Often the compostable plastics are thrown into the recycle stream where they can ruin processing machines, so in most places the presence of compostable plastics often cause the whole batch of recycling to be sent to the landfill.
  • •Even when the compostable plastics do fully break down, their presence can degrade the rest of the compost in the batch because they break down into a sticky, resin-y mess. This creates poor compost that’s not rich or nutritious for plants (like compost from truly organic materials is).

 

We promise to keep an eye on alternatives and are constantly evaluating how they stack up to what we’re currently doing. And while we’re always working to REDUCE the amount of plastic, here are some ideas for how you can REUSE the bags in the meantime.

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  • 1) Dog poop bag. Done and done.
  • 2) Store your phone, wallet, and keys when hiking in the rain. Keep bags on hand to cover your muddy shoes before you get back into your car.
  • 3) A simple starter pot for plants: Fold down the bag until it’s as tall as you want the soil to be, poke a few holes in the bottom, fill with soil, and plant your seeds.
  • 4) Scoop cat litter with leftover bags or use one to line the litter box.
  • 5) Hang a cedar closet bag (fill a bag with cedar chips, tie it closed, then poke several small holes in the bottom with a safety pin) to repel moths. Or fill the bag with flower petals, crushed fragrant leaves, and a couple of drops of aromatic oil for an easy DIY sachet to freshen up musty drawers.
  • 6) Fill a bag with distilled white vinegar (a couple of inches below the vent holes), then tie it around your showerhead to remove soap scum and mildew.
  • 7) Cover fragile plants with plastic bags if you detect frost on the way. Same goes for outdoor padlocks in the winter to keep them from freezing.
  • 8) Replace bubble wrap with plastic bags when mailing packages. You can use the same trick when packing away breakable holiday decorations.
  • 9) Use the plastic to stuff winter boots or bags you don’t use in the summer to help them keep their shape.
  • 10) Put plastic bags under furniture you’re painting. They also work great for protecting tables and counters when kiddos are doing craft projects.

 

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And of course, we’re always looking for other ways to cut back on waste, like by making clothes from recycled plastic and offering reusable shippers. Because just like you, every step we take counts!

 

Earth Day Tips: 10 Ways to Fight Climate Change Today (and Every Day)

When you live on Earth (which 99.9% of us do…), every day is Earth Day.  Since every action we take affects our Mothership (hello Butterfly Effect), a little positive change can go a long way. Here are 10 easy ways you can help fight climate change, because we’re all earthlings and we’d like to keep it that way.

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1. No more single-use plastic ever. 

You’ve heard it before but we’ll say it again for the kids in the back: single-use plastic is a REAL bummer. Bad news: Humans buy about 1,000,000 plastic bottles per minute and only 23% of plastic bottles are recycled within the U.S. Good news: There are SO many great reusable options for water bottles, sandwich bags, grocery and produce bags, metal straws, silverware, alternatives to Saran Wrap like Bee’s Wrap – the possibilities are endless, and they’ve gotten really easy to find.

2. Shop brands that give back.

When everyone’s selling something, it can be tough to know who’s doing it in a responsible way. A few tips: Look for brands that are part of 1% for the Planet  (that’s us), Conservation Alliance (us too), or are B-Corp Certified (workin’ on it). These are all signs that brands are doing their part to help save the planet.

3. Look for energy credits.

Lots of U.S. states offer tax credits for things like installing solar panels, making energy-efficient improvements to your home, or driving energy-efficient cars. Check out all the incentives your state offers here.

4. Reduce and Reuse.

Obviously recycling is important (fun fact: recycled fibers are the gold standard for conscious clothing), but Reducing and Reusing resources will have the biggest positive impact. Reuse the basics (pst: here’s our guide to 20 Reusable Everyday Items), and for goodness sakes attempt to FIX things before you replace them (here’s the 101 on how to sew a button). If you must, donate unwanted clothes to a program like The Renewal Workshop.

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5. Support your local farmers.

Most food in the US travels an average of 1,500 miles to get from “field to plate.” It takes 435 fossil-fuel calories to fly a 5-calorie strawberry from California to New York. Shopping locally-grown food cuts that down to basically ZERO. More bonuses to buying from local farmers: It’s generally organic (ie: doesn’t rely on synthetic or petroleum-based chemicals), it fosters a healthy ecosystem in your own backyard, and small farms help keep the natural balance between humans and wildlife (and many farms even act as Certified Wildlife Habitats).

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6. Bike, walk, run, skate….

Get that heart pumping and get moving the Flinstone way! Across the world, the longest-living people are the ones who have incorporated movement into their life daily. Walk to visit friend, ride your bike to the grocery store, get outside for a hike. Do things the old fashioned way (ie: without gasoline) and you’ll do right by the earth and the body.

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7. Volunteer.

What’s better than getting your hands a little dirty in the name of Planet Earth? Plant a tree. Pick up trash on the beach. Maintain trails. Do it with a friend and it’ll have twice the impact. Get your kids involved and you’ll have a Steward of the Earth for life. Here’s a great site called VolunteerMatch that will hook you up with local orgs doing cool things in your community.

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8. Make it official.

Take your dedication one step further and become a member of 1% for the Planet, a network of brands, organizations and individuals that are committed to giving back to the earth by supporting key issues related to climate, land, food, pollution, water and wildlife. Businesses commit to giving 1% of sales each year, and individuals (that’s you) can commit 1% of their salary or volunteer hours to approved nonprofits. If the karma points aren’t incentive enough, you’ll get exclusive discounts and prizes from the 1% network of brands (like Toad&Co!) who are committed to being better.

9. Vote.

Flex those democratic muscles and vote for candidates and policies that care, especially local politicians who are making decisions about your own backyard. Look for measures and representatives who are bike and pedestrian-friendly, protect natural areas, focus on waste management, and advocate for clean water.

10. Wear sustainable.

The apparel industry is the 4th largest polluter of air and water on Earth. The way we see it, you can either go nude or wear sustainable. (Shameless plug: we’re traversing the country in our sustainably-built “Go Nude” trailer to spread the word). Nudity isn’t always an option, but sustainable clothing is! 100% of our clothing is made with sustainable fibers and fabrics that are 3rd party certified for responsible manufacturing.

Shop Men’s and Women’s sustainable spring styles. Your Mother will approve.

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Recycled Polyester: Plastic 2.0

It’s no secret that single use plastics are becoming a big problem for Mother Earth. Plastic is a huge pain for two reasons. First, it takes a TON of energy and resources to make. It can be made from a variety of materials (natural gas, oil, coal, minerals, and plants), but turning it into a durable product requires excessive use of energy, heat, and chemicals. Plastic also takes hundreds of years to decompose naturally and its durability means that it ends up in places it shouldn’t be. There are 4 billion plastic microfibers per square km in the deep sea, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is twice the size of Texas, and it’s been estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. Super scary, but also preventable if we take the right steps now. Knowledge is power, right?

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Here’s how you can make a difference starting right this minute. Take single use plastic out of your daily routine. Avoid plastic takeout containers, say no to straws, buy in bulk or at your local farmer’s markets, carry a reusable water bottle and a reusable grocery bag. These small changes can have a huge impact.

At Toad&Co, we’ve committed to reducing our use of single use plastic and finding ways to stem the flow of plastics into landfills. Our recycled polyester fibers are made from 100% post-consumer plastic bottles, and it takes about 9 bottles to make one T-shirt. Only 9% of the Earth’s plastic has been recycled, but we’re committed to boosting that percentage by using more recycled polyester across more styles each year.

We believe in upcycling and using the resources we’ve already created as a society. We share the planet with millions of living organisms who do their part to keep the environment clean, so it’s important we do our part too. It’s up to each of us to take responsibility for our use of single use plastics. Together, we can make a difference.

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When it comes to sustainable fibers, recycled fibers are the undisputed gold standard. Shop men’s recycled poly and women’s recycled poly styles.