In a shifting consumer climate, companies are often in the process of development, rebranding, and re-inventing to meet the desires of an ever-changing community. The fashion industry particularly is required to adapt to the demands of their demographic, or perish. And with climate change becoming an increasingly discussed topic and reality, it makes sense that outdoor companies would align themselves with sustainability minded initiatives.
But with the ongoing trendiness of sustainability and conservation, “greenwashing” has sprung forth as a subversive and destructive undertone. Greenwashing is when a company makes an unsubstantiated or misleading claim regarding their environmental practice in order to appear more environmentally friendly than they actually are. With the increased public awareness of environmental ethic in the 80s and 90s, companies responded with pointed advertising to convey that they were truly good for the earth (even if their core business practices communicated the opposite).
Take, for example, Chevron’s award-winning advertising cycle titled “People Do,” launched in the late 90s. The message of the advertisement focuses heavily on the ways people — presumably people who use Chevron for their fuel — care for the voiceless wild. What it fails to acknowledge, however, is that the core of the business does not have the environment’s best interest in mind at all.
So, conscious consumers are tasked not only with searching for brands that offer environmentally friendly options, but also researching and discerning whether those brands and products are actually good for the earth. It can be an exhausting and tedious (and discouraging) process.
Toad&Co commits to transparent and sustainable practices
But Toad&Co are here, making it easy for consumers to buy in confidence. The Spring 2019 line represents a pivotal moment in their history: along with a host of new, fashionable clothing pieces, the brand has launched forward into a 100% sustainable production process. Their “eCo” sustainability mark indicates that the materials being used are constructed of a “minimum of 80% sustainable fibers and/or fabrics that are 3rd party certified for responsible manufacturing.”
It seems that every step of the way, Toad&Co has found a way that leans into sustainability and offers consumers a way to purchase while consciously caring for the environment. As someone who loves to be outside–and is also excited about both fashion and functional gear, Toad&Co struck a chord with me.
It is impossible to exist without consumption. Humans, plants, animals — to survive we must take in. But where humans are challenged is in considering the “how,” “from where,” and “how much” of their consumption. So I love that Toad&Co offered me a sustainable way to purchase high quality (and long lasting) clothing without implicating severe negative impacts on the environment.
Take, for example, the dying process. Dyes in clothing are burdened with a demands for water, and the fixtatives utilized in attaching coloring to clothes in a way that is both vibrant and lasting can be leached into the water. Or maybe consider the intensive processes of transforming fibers from raw material to fabric? Nylon and polyester are non-biodegradable synthetics requiring lots of water in processing. Rayon is wood pulp based and treated with some pretty hefty chemicals. Even cotton is questionable: the pesticides, the chemicals, the genetic modification and water/land resource demands.
Fashionable casual-wear that helps you look good and your conscious feel good.
While the negative impacts of the clothing industry are not limited to the above, it’s already pretty clear how daunting it can be to find clothing that is sustainable — not to mention cute. I spent the past few months romping about in a couple of Toad&Co’s new line, which gave me confidence not only because the Tara Jumpsuit and Indigo-for-it Top are adorable — but also because they are crafted in ways that assure me that minimal impact is being inflicted on this earth I love.
The Tara Jumpsuit Features:
- Hemp blended with Tercel and Spandex for maximum comfort, breathability, and wicking.
- Adjustable straps
- Two hip pockets and two rear pockets
- Elastic waistband
- MSRP: $110.00
The Indigo-For-It Short Sleeve Top Features:
- Lightweight organic cotton
- eCo Indigo
- Can be worn tied or untied
- Tortoiseshell-style buttons
- MSRP: $65.00
Now for the garments themselves, I found myself constantly reaching for both the Tara Jumpsuit and the Indigo-for-It top. When I began testing, it was still fairly early in the season, and the breathability was just too good. (read: I was cold). That being said, these are definitely spring/summer items, made for warm days and warm nights. Living in the Pacific Northwest, it took some time to warm up enough for me to feel comfortable in these garments because it’s just chilly around these parts.
Now the Tara Jumpsuit is a sweet piece that afforded me both the ability to dress up (earrings and flats) or dress down (sandals and that my-hair-hasn’t-been-washed-in-four-days messy bun). I loved the adjustable straps that added a bit of flair with the knots. I got compliments on this jumper every time I wore it, but still felt easy and breezy instead of painfully pulled together.
The jumpsuit is crafted out of hemp-based materials, which is actually a longtime figure in American farming practices (and not for its psychoactive drug properties). Hemp is resilient, renewable, and boasts low environmental demands and impacts. Forbes reported on hemp’s industrial accolades in 2013, stating that “among the more salient features, hemp grows in a variety of climates and soil types, is naturally resistant to most pests, and grows very tightly spaced allowing it to outcompete most weeds…hemp can also be pulped using fewer chemicals than wood because of its low lignin content.”
“Cotton kills,” an oft repeated tenet of the outdoor community, seems to have some clout in textile production when it comes to the environment. Non-organic cotton kills because of the need for pesticide application and its large demand for water and land resources. But with hemp, natural brightness in the material means less bleach used in processing. Hemp’s low water demand and ability to grow in density (reducing the amount of land needed to cultivate) offers more growth and product for less of a tax upon the land we love.
With this knowledge, it’s not surprising that Toad&Co decided to harness this material for their clothing. The Tara jumpsuit is soft on skin, airy and breathable. Blended with Tencel and Spandex, the “Sunhemp Stretch” hemp based fabric offers a bit of stretch and great movement while also drying so fast.
The Indigo-for-It top is airy and casual, with a small breast pocket and tortoise shell style buttons. I got the Light Indigo Stripe color, which I especially loved wearing with the front of the shirt tied below the bottom buttons. The sleeves are the perfect length and slightly rolled up. Honestly, this is one of my favorite shirts because of the adorable cut and everyday design. The only disappointment I found was that it developed slight pilling after (many, many) days of use and trips through the wash machine.
As hinted in the name, the Indigo-for-It top is constructed of 100% organic cotton colored with indigo dye. They boast a blueSign approval for their dying process, and claim that it cuts back 90% water reduction in addition to 25% energy reduction and 30% Co2 reduction. The result? A timeless, attractive shirt without the (oft unseen) baggage that is generally bound to the production narrative of dyed materials. And the cotton itself is organic, making it a much friendlier option than non-organic cotton insofar as environmental impacts.
The Indigo-For-It top has a light, handkerchief texture that’s perfect for warm summer days. I found that the Light Striped color was a bit transparent, so I would generally wear a tank top underneath. However, I found that when wearing a skin tone bra the transparency wasn’t noticeable at all.
- Progressive approach to environmentally friendly production (and even shipping, too!)
- Fashionable, comfortable clothing that is built to last
- Toad&Co’s transparency regarding their brand and production is fantastic, and creates shopper confidence in the midst of “greenwashing” trends.
- The Indigo-For-It top pilled after significant use
- The Tara jumpsuit would often stretch throughout use (but quickly bounces back to it’s original fit after washing!)
The Bottom Line: Toad&Co Sustainable Clothing
It’s straightforward and evident that Toad&Co have attractive clothing to offer the modern shopper. The casual, comfortable designs don’t skimp on style and timelessness, and I was constantly getting compliments on my jumpsuit and blouse. However, what’s arguably more important is Toad&Co’s commitment to transparency and sustainable production practices every step of the way. I love that Toad&Co has offered an eco-friendly option in the clothing industry, making items that are stylish and well-constructed without hurting the land that offers us its resources.
Buy Now: Visit ToadandCo.com
If you are interested in reading more about the textile and production process in general, start with these resources:
Textile Dyes: Dying Process and Environmental Impact — This is an excerpt from a study published in 2013, investigating the environmental implications of traditional and eco-friendly dying processes.
Measuring Fashion — This report is thorough, informative, and has useful visuals to help communicate the findings published by Quantis — a consulting agency specializing in helping organizations and businesses successfully implement environmentally conscious practices.