We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: clothes don’t belong in landfills. Wear it out, or pass it on. We’re big fans of using what you’ve got and mending your clothes when they’re a little worse for the wear.
A good rule of thumb is to buy durable, well crafted clothes that won’t fall apart after a few wears and washings. Next, follow the wash instructions – most things last longer when washed in cold water and air dried. When you come across something that needs mending or altering, roll up your sleeves and get to work. Here’s how to fix your clothes, so no excuses!
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).
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.
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.
There’s a little football game coming up (we’re not legally allowed to use the name, but it rhymes with “Duper Bowl”) and we’re gearing up for snack central. Since we’re on a mission to find a greener way to do just about everything (see BBQs, holidays, coffee, summer), here are our tips for throwing an eco-friendly tailgate party.
Carpool, public transit, bike or walk… the days of everyone driving their own trucks are over. We’re not here to kill the vibe, just make it a little more carbon neutral.
GROWLERS OVER CANS
Have everyone go to their local brewery of choice and fill up some reusable growlers. OR have everyone pitch in for a pony keg. Sure, beer cans and bottles are recyclable, but reusable containers are where you can make a huge impact.
We get it – we love chicken wings too. But maybe, just this once you can try a buffalo cauliflower recipe or mushroom burgers. Who knows, you might actually like it better.
Hear us out: you can get a zillion utensils for next to nothing at thrift stores (because who needs mismatched forks? YOU DO). Yes, the compostable utensils are better than plastic ones, but they still end up in landfills and take many years to break down. That’s why we’ll always preach the benefits of reusable items. Get a mess of utensils and keep them as your “party set.” You’ll use them more than you think!
Real talk: Those 99¢ streamers we can get online have a lot of hidden costs to the environment (packaging, jet fuel, questionable manufacturing). Get creative and make streamers out of old ribbon or fabric you find at thrift stores, or make a big flower arrangement with the colors of your team. Encourage guests to wear team colors – it will feel festive in no time.
DONATE THE WINNINGS
There’s a $5 buy in and the winner gets to donate to the winning to the non-profit of their choice! Win, win. Gotta love football!
We know a thing or two about leftovers. From fabric scraps to dye water to using every part of a plant, we’re always looking for ways to capture our leftovers and reuse them (wine bottle bowling, anyone?). If you’re having an eco friendly holiday, keep it going and stretch those leftovers into 2020.
USED WRAPPING PAPER
Unless it’s plain ol’ brown paper, wrapping paper isn’t recyclable. Wrap fragile things like ornaments or glassware in used wrapping or tissue paper to keep it safe until next holiday.
Ah the ubiquitous cardboard box. Instead of clogging the recycling plant, stick in your yard + cover with mulch = no weeds in the spring.
Most things ship in plastic in order to protect them from any transit snafus. Get in the habit of reusing these plastic bags for doggy doodoo bags (a Toad office trick), or save and use as packing materials next time you ship a package to another time zone.
Nearly all food scraps can be reused. Toss bones and veggie peels into a pot for broth or soup. Take literally anything, mix it with eggs, toss in a pie crust and you have a quiche (or do the same thing but with cheese and bread and voila, you have a grilled cheese). Stale bread becomes croutons, wilted greens become pesto, and less than perfect veggies love a quick pickle. Waste not, want not.
Opened wine will keep in the fridge for 2 months, so now’s the time to make all those fancy recipes that call for a cup of wine – piccata, coq au vin, braised short ribs, scallops… cooking with leftovers doesn’t sound half bad…
First, check to see if your local waste management recycles Christmas trees into wood chips (that’s a great option if you have it!). If not, get an axe and get to work – turn your tree into firewood and use the needles for much. Live near a lake or pond? Wash your tree with the hose (get any glitter, plastic, and hooks of of it) and toss the tree into the lake. The tree is a natural incubator for algae and great habitat for fish.
Got stuff you don’t need? Instead of throwing it all in a box and sending to the thrift store, think about who could use it and donate to specialized organizations that will get it to people in need. Transition houses, homeless shelters, animal shelters, disaster relief organizations, children’s programs, family assistance leagues… what you donate now will be used throughout the year.
Happy 2020 – let’s make it the most sustainable year yet!
We love the holidays (gathering, eating, appreciating) and Planet Earth (mountains, water, trees, life as we know it…). So this year we’re on a mission to make our favorite traditions a little more earth-friendly. Here are our 7 tips to help you have a waste-free holiday season and score some extra points on the Nice List.
USE THE LEFTOVERS
Leftovers are the ultimate holiday magic. Make turkey scrap soup, toss the last veggies in a quiche, turn old rolls into croutons… sky’s the limit.
LESS IS MORE
The less stuff, the more sustainable your holidays. Forget individual presents and organize a White Elephant gift exchange or Secret Santas, or give experiences instead of things.
If you’re gonna gift, make it a sustainable gift. Look for brands that give back (check the 1% for the Planet directory), items that are durable and useful, and things made responsibly (ahem, we happen to do all three).
USE YOUR DISHWASHER
Fill it up and run it. Most dishwashers use about 3 gallons of water, while washing the same amount by hand could use 10x that amount. Save water, drink whiskey… We mean, use a dishwasher.
Yeah, we said it. We’re totally okay with re-gifting and you should be too. Think of it as a circular holiday economy.
Buying local is a gift to all. It supports the community, cuts back on packaging, and keeps your carbon footprint low. Find a Toad&Co retailer in your neck of the woods and have a happy, environmentally friendly holiday!
The 90s called, and they’re not getting their jeans back anytime soon. We’re thrilled to announce that we’re now offering vintage denim on our website. By rocking vintage, you’re doing your part to keep clothes out of the landfill, which keeps the circular economy in motion, and lets Mother Nature rest easy (most denim production also uses a ton of water, so shopping vintage is just as water-wise as it is a win for your closet).
Because each pair of vintage 501s has its own unique story, inseam lengths will vary and some pairs are more washed and worn than others. We think it’s awesome that no two pairs are the same, and love the idea of adding your chapter to your new (well….old) pair’s story.
Our in-house denim gurus (AKA Kyle, our Head of Product, Design, and Supply Chain, and Lindsay, our Web Merchant/Style Superstar) share their super simple, step-by-step guide on how to cut denim to make it your own. Give it a try and we can guarantee that your newly acquired jeans will thank you for keeping them from the landfill, and breathing some extra life into them too.
And a pro tip from the rest of the Toads: Make it to the end for a good laugh.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 nationalpark?
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!
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?!
What are your favorite Toad clothes to keep it comfy on the road?