I can’t thank you enough. When one of my seams ripped apart in a pogo-stick accident, I thought my days were numbered. I’d had a good life until then – I was born on an organic cotton farm, raised on rainwater and non-synthetic fertilizers, was spun and sewn in a responsible facility, got a fancy non-toxic certification from OEKO-TEX, met my best friend in a small outdoor shop, and spent many years exploring and traveling the world – but I was heart broken to think that I was doomed for the bottom of the landfill.
But you saved me.
Instead of being hauled off to the dump, I was sent to Oregon to make the acquaintances of the Renewal Workshop. WOW, what a place! Everywhere there were machines whizzing and buzzing and there were thousands of garments just like me – slightly damaged, excess and returned clothing that had no place in the landfills. Was this heaven?
My first day there I took a dip in their Tersus washing machine, a state-of-the-art machine that uses CO2 to get deep into the fibers of a garment; there’s no water wasted and all byproducts are captured and reused.
Next I was off to the seamstresses for new seams, reinforced buttons (just for good measure) and a fancy new label that says “Renewed Toad&Co.” Then I had my first photoshoot, became an internet sensation, and was shipped off to meet my NEW owner.
Today, I’m the same great flannel I’ve always been but with a renewed sense of purpose: to help change the apparel industry from a linear one to a circular one. I’ve never felt better!
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?
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.
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?
Weed, reefer, ganga, Mary-Jane, skunkweed, chronic, hash, hemp, herb, Devil’s grass… call it what you will, it’s all just Cannabis. And we’ll cut to the chase: We’re big fans of Cannabis. It’s got some insane super-hero properties (it’s phytoremediative, so it absorbs bad pollutants from the soil and replenishes the good stuff), it’s natural (no pesticides or GMO seed), and it’s a really sustainable crop (low-water, low-maintenance and thrives when left in the sunshine). It also helps a lot of people feel less stressed, less pain, and generally more happy. Who doesn’t like that? There’s a lot to like about this epic weed.
WHAT IS CANNABIS?
Like all plant families, Cannabis has many different sub-species and each has their own unique features. You’ve probably heard of the two main classifications: Sativa and Indica. Marijuana can be made from both plants, but Hemp is ONLY made from Sativa. The Sativa plant is tall, stalky and generally associated with a “mental high” while the Indica plant is bushier, has bigger leaves and is associated with the body high. All Cannabis plants produce cannabinoids, but not all cannabinoids are the same…
WHAT ARE CANNABINOIDS?
This is the secret sauce of all Cannabis plants. And by “secret sauce” we mean complex chemical compounds found in resin. The most common cannabinoids are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD).
WHAT IS THC?
THC is the cannabinoid that produces “psychoactive effects” (ie: gets you high) and is the main difference between Hemp and Marijuana: Hemp has trace amounts of THC (about .3%) while Marijuana has anywhere between 15%-40% depending on the strain (Maui Wowie, Pineapple Express, Purple Urkle… we could be here all day). THC can be extracted on its own and used in everything from vaporizers to brownies.
WHAT IS CBD?
If THC is the stuff that gets you high, CBD is the stuff that heals. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory and when it reacts with the body’s Endocannnibinoid System it mitigates stress by getting the body back to it’s optimal state of homeostasis. And it won’t get you high. To make a very long, scientific story short, CBD has become a popular form of homeopathic healthcare and we’re not mad about it. Though the FDA has declared it legal, each state has its own laws so check before buying oils or tinctures.
WHAT IS MARIJUANA?
Marijuana is all about the THC. Marijuana is grown from both Indica and Sativa plants and is recognizable by dense buds full of crystals (that’s where the THC is). With high (heh, get it?) THC concentrations and smaller stalks, Marijuana is grown for recreational and medicinal purposes only. It’s also what distinguishes marijuana from being illegal in many places. For now… #LEGALIZEIT
WHAT IS HEMP?
Grown strictly from the Sativa plant, Hemp’s super-low THC concentrations and tall stalks make it an ideal crop for industrial purposes. This sturdy fiber is used in a range of products from paper to rope to food to textiles (that’s where we come in). Fun fact: George Washington grew hemp at Mount Vernon and Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag from hemp!
WHAT IS HEMP CLOTHING?
Our bread and butter! Hemp textiles pack a lot of natural performance: strong, resilient, anti-microbial, and virtually indestructible in water. Hemp’s a porous fiber (like all natural fibers), allowing it to wick-moisture and respond to your body temperature. Its also got great drape, can be super soft, and wears well over time. We blend hemp with other fibers like organic cotton and recycled polyester to achieve different performance benefits.
When it comes to apparel industry pollution, the buck stops here. As pioneers in sustainable fashion, we set out to create a collection that didn’t waste, pollute, or use any resources. The result? The ZERO Collection, the world’s first clothing line made with zero impact.
Ok, we might be yanking your chain, but now that we have your attention… let’s talk sustainable apparel.
Here’s the short version: The apparel industry is the 4th largest polluter of air and water on earth and 12.8 million tons of textiles end up in US landfills annually. That’s a massive impact clothing has on the earth.
Here’s the long version: The apparel industry is not without flaws, but there are tons of innovative practices that are helping to clean up a dirty industry. For the last 23 years we’ve been on the front lines of the movement by doing our homework and adapting our supply chain. Here are some of the things we’re doing to make Toad&Co apparel better for people and planet:
-Our polybags are made from post-consumer plastic and were recently redesigned to move the air hole to the top for reuse as dog doodoo bags (because we love dogs as much as we love sustainability)
-And we’re always learning! We’re members of the Higg Index, TextileExchange, and OIA Sustainability Working Group – organizations working to identify and implement sustainable practices throughout our shared global supply chain
Sustainability isn’t the easy route, but for us it’s the only route. Check out our Men’s and Women’s collections (which aside from going nude, are about as sustainable as you can get).
And if you’re interested in learning more with a beer in hand, check out our Save the Planet, Go Nude Tour – coming to a local brewery near you! Join the movement and check the schedule here.
When it comes to wearing sustainable clothing, sticking to organic, plant-based or eco materials is a great start. But we go one step further and look for 3rd party certifications to ensure that we’re doing right by people and planet. Here are some of the reputable sustainable apparel certifications you’ll find in our clothing:
The bluesign® system takes into account the use of energy, water, chemistry, emissions and worker safety during fabric production. Specifically, the bluesign® system monitors efficient use of resources during the “Dyeing and Finishing Process” of fabric production. The dyeing and finishing stage alone uses many resources: 85% of water, 80% of energy, and 65% of chemicals that are used to produce a single garment are used during this process. The bluesign® system audits this process to ensure that these resources are being used in the most efficient way. They rely on a 5 principle system to determine whether a fabric is up to sustainability standards. As of Spring 2019, we have 49 styles made from blueisgn®-approved fabrics – 1/3 of the spring line.
Your skin is the largest, most porous organ in your body. STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® is a worldwide consistent, independent testing and certification system that assures no harmful chemicals or toxins were used from fiber-to-finished garment. In short, OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100 certified garments ensure your skin isn’t coming in contact with nasty chemicals. Certified fabrics are tested for over 100 harmful substances (like pesticides, carcinogenic colorants and heavy metals) that go far beyond existing national legislation. As of Spring 2019, we have 14 styles with fabrics that are certified Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX®.
The Global Recycling Standard (GRS) tracks and traces materials to certify that recycled fabric is made from at least 50% recycled content. GRS auditors also visit factories to ensure that workers are treated fairly, recycled materials are handled by adults, and factory processes protect natural resources. Our GRS-certified products are made from materials that would otherwise be in the landfill.
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification ensures that our cotton is truly organic: non-GMO, free from pesticides, and responsibly grown using water-and energy-saving methods. Fibers have a big journey from farm to fabric. GOTS certifies that these fibers are handled properly at every step. GOTS covers the processing, manufacturing, packaging, labeling, trading and distribution of all fabrics made from at least 70% certified organic natural fibers. We are proud to use ZERO conventional cotton and only use organic or recycled cotton. Check out our women’s organic cotton and men’s organic cotton styles.
Start the year off right. Here are our 2019 sustainability resolutions:
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.
Everything from food scraps to lightbulbs to shower water, start by cutting back on your consumption and reuse as much as you can.
12 billion plastic bottles end up in landfills every year. Same for 6 out of 7 plastic bags. BYOB from here on out.
Eating food sourced within 30 miles of your home cuts back on land, water and emissions pollution. Support local, support the planet.
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.
Let’s cut to the chase: We never use acrylic. Not in our sweaters, not in our shirtjacs, not in our jackets – not anywhere! Acrylic fibers were invented in the 1940s as the cheap alternative to wool, and when something is cheap, it generally has a less-than-stellar footprint.
Here’s the acrylic hit list:
• Acrylic uses large quantities of chemical, water and energy to create.
• Hydrogen cyanide is a big byproduct when creating acrylic; that makes it an occupational hazard. (In fact: no companies in the US or EU make acrylic because of its toxicity to workers).
• Acrylic is nearly impossible to recycle; the fibers cannot be shredded and upcycled into new fabrics. Only full pieces of fabric can be recycled – and that’s assuming they have lasted long enough to BE recycled!
• It’s a very weak fiber in comparison to real wool; acrylic garments tend to have higher pilling and less durability than wool.
Our alternative is simple: We use REAL wool.
• Wool is durable and long lasting
• Naturally moisture-wicking and water repellent (mind blowing, but true)
• Grown by our sheep friends in non-toxic or occupationally hazardous ways
• 100% recyclable
And when it comes down to it, natural just feels better.
Natural fibers breathe better than synthetic fibers, inherently wick moisture away from the body, and if they’re harvested properly, are better for the planet. We’re proud to say that 100% of our merino wool is certified non-mulesed (which means sheared in a non-harmful way), or recycled (because recycled fibers are the true sustainability gold standard). With options like that, who needs acrylic?
We all know the word organic just feels better. But what does it really 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.
Take that apple you ate for lunch. Why is it organic? Because the entire farming system used to produce it avoided the use of man-made fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators, and livestock feed additives. We’re officially changing the old saying to go something like “an organic apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
Just like food takes the whole farming system into account, the whole apparel supply chain plays a part in determining whether that T-shirt you’re wearing is organic. Let’s start with the Holy Grail of organic textiles: The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). For an item to be organic, it must follow GOTS’ specific list of criteria through every stage of its process – from production to processing to packaging. Here are some of the major criteria:
Organic farming cannot use any pesticides.
For comparison, conventional cotton uses 16% of the world’s pesticides. Pesticide exposure has been known to cause impaired memory, severe depression, and immune system disruption among cotton farmers. Pesticides further permeate the ecosystem, waterways and surrounding arable land. By committing to organic cotton, we’re supporting better farming practices and protecting farmers’ quality of life.
Organic growing practices also support soil and land health.
Healthy land retains more nutrients and can produce crops for more seasons than conventional land. And here’s some cool science for you: Some organic growing techniques improve the soil’s ability to sequester carbon, pulling it from the atmosphere. On organic farms, soil productivity is often preserved with cover crops instead of synthetic fertilizer, so farmers can sell these crops for additional income, making this whole process twice as awesome.
Organic agriculture uses water more responsibly.
A conventional cotton T-shirt takes 713 gallons of water to grow (enough to sustain one person for almost three years). Organic cotton uses far less water, and a more sustainable kind of water called “green water.” Green water uses rain water instead of irrigation, while “blue water” is pumped in from from lakes, streams, glaciers, and snow. Cotton cannot be certified organic unless it uses a certain amount of green water versus blue.
Organic farming supports biodiversity.
Research shows that biodiversity is greater on organic farms than conventional farms. Visit an organic farm and you’ll see more plants, flowers, insects, and butterflies. Why the abundance? Because organic farms aren’t filled with those nasty pesticides killing off natural pollinators. Living creatures are more likely to survive and thrive (PS: we’re really into bugs. Here’s more on that).
Organic farms are in it for the long haul.
Fields can’t be considered organic until they’ve committed to the GOTS process for at least three years. This ensures that the soil has enough time to flush all of the toxins that have accumulated. So even if you’re farming organically now, you can’t be certified after your first year – No cutting corners!
Our Verdict: Organic Cotton or bust.
Apparel production touches the lives of people at every phase of the supply chain. Our commitment to sustainable sourcing is designed to protect the planet and all people throughout the supply chain (and that includes you!). When you shop organic cotton clothing, you can feel good knowing that you support it, too. So next time you’re shopping for clothes, choose organic. Consider it the equivalent of going to the Farmer’s Market (for your closet).
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.