Conscious Consumerism

Incognito: Good Day, Goodyear

ecofriendly, sustainable, carsNick OgdenComment

This month we are discussing companies that are surprisingly or not so surprisingly trying to create products in the more sustainable ways. Last week we talked about plant-based leathers and Matt & Nat; leathers can be made without harming animals and creating less environmental impacts on the planet. This week we will be talking about tires. Sounds pretty boring? Maybe. I hope not. Surprisingly I think you may find it at least a little interesting. Tires. Rubber. Rice. Up-cycled material. What more could a person want?! Let's dive in.

I own a car, nothing that fancy, but it is pretty fuel efficient (what modern car isn't). I would love to own a Tesla Type-Anything if I could but I am not in the position to drop that kind of money but when I can I will! When I service my car I try and get the best products on the market, using these products as long as I can, and disposing of them properly when they brake. For example I bought Bosch wiper-blades, the set ran me close to $60 and they have lasted me almost 5 years; I know some people that spend half as much and buy a couple sets a year because they don't want to spend the money upfront for a good long lasting pair. This may seem minor but let us consider this: 1 pair-5years-$60 OR 10 pairs-5years-$300. This comparison may be trivial but if we think about the waste that we produce when buying cheap things it clearly stacks up! 1 pair of wiper-blades that are expensive produces far lest waste then 10 pairs and in the long run is significantly cheaper! This is true for anything we maintain our cars with; cheap oil filters will not last as long, cheap headlights will burn out faster, and so on and so on. The tires you equip your car with play a huge factor in how well your car runs and how much more of an environmental impact you will have. 

In 2015 Goodyear and other huge tire manufacturers announced that they will be using silica from spent rice hulls to produce tires. This is huge. Up until recently, tires were predominantly made from rubber derived from petroleum and were not that technologically advanced. In the mid 2000's during the start of the climate change push, tire industry researchers heard the outcry of their consumers and started to look for ways to reduce the environmental impact of tires. They found that most of the impact was from the actual use of the tire, creating resistance between the movement of the car and the road. During their findings the researchers found that roughly 85% of the emissions associated with vehicle tires were from un-needed friction to the road. The researchers worked to figure out tires that had less friction which decreased fuel consumption and ultimately decreased emissions. This did not satisfy consumers.

Using spent rice hulls, instead of harvesting new matter, meant that Goodyear was not only looking for alternatives to petroleum but they also realized the impact of their resource acquisition. Using a waste product not only helps close the loop between manufacturing, consuming, and wasting it also reduces the environmental impact of another industry. As biomass is composted the microbial's eating the waste produce GHG's adding to our climate change problem. Utilizing the spent rice hulls from rice production means that these emissions are taken out of the environment. Now this might open discussion up to weighing the emissions of the microbial's to that of the processing of the spent rice hulls. In my opinion this is a moot point. Goodyear and other tire manufacturers might look to first consumption plant-based resources, meaning that they would have to process fresh matter to produce their tires and I would argue this would cause more emissions then using the spent rice hulls. No matter the case, the fact of the matter is that tire manufacturers realize the environmental impact of their industry and are changing their ways. 

Through the understanding of consumer demands, tire manufacturers are integrating new innovations into their tires in an effort to reduce their products emissions and environmental impact. This is done through a variety of ways but most recently and the one we are focusing on is silica derived from spent rice husks. First off, what is silica? Silica is an additive that is in numerous products from toothpaste to hamburger meat and tires. Silica is added to tires to reduce friction which decrease emissions (as discussed earlier) as well as reduce heat. Silica or silicon is a naturally occurring element on earth but is always mixed in with other things. Traditionally it would be extracted from various non-organic compound using intense soluble and toxic chemicals. The silica extracted from rice hulls is a fairly less laborious task requiring much less chemical to purify. As an added bonus, the silica extracted from plant-based compounds is pure compared to that of non-organic material that yields lower quality. As I mentioned before, the higher the grade the less you need; the same is true here.  

We are also seeing this year, 2017, Goodyear announce the integration of soybean derived rubber into their tires. This may be a little while yet until they integrate this technology into all their products but this is still a huge step forward. 

The next time you are shopping for tires take the time to search the market and find a set that has less friction and that is made from spent rice hulls. Understanding the products we buy and how they were made and demanding more sustainably produced goods we will change global markets. By buy products that are more durable, more eco-friendly, and possibly spending a little but more; we will show producers that we demand change. You have the power to change the world! 

Thank you for reading and don't forget to subscribe! 

Incognito: Pleasure Leather

fashion, ecofriendly, sustainableNick OgdenComment

This month I will be focusing on companies that do a great job of doing business in a sustainable way. The companies that I will be focusing on primarily will be ones that are either a little out of most peoples daily thoughts, like last weeks discussion on Interface, or companies that people have heard of much yet that I think should be praised frequently. With this in mind, today's topic is "Pleasure Leather". I know what you're thinking: "Jeepers Jug-head, is Nick going to talk about BDSM and leather toys?"... The answer, "No." I am not the guy to discuss that world, if you would like to know more go check out Red Hot Suz, she got you! Our conversation will be more towards the plant-based leather movement that is quickly picking up ground with manufacturers. 

If you are looking for some ecofriendly, fun time, gorgeous leather goods keep reading. If the tittle tricked you and you want to go check out some discussions around the other realm of leather pleasure go check out The Red Hot Suz. I would like to bring to the table an idea that leather doesn't have to be made from animal hides anymore, which is a really dirty and environmentally destructive process. Today, we are not going to focus on the doom and gloom of an industry but highlight a couple cool companies that are using this new fabric to create durable, ecofriendly, sustainable, and beautiful pieces of clothing.

Matt and Nat is a great place to start. Matt and Nat started in Montreal, 1995, creating pieces that to this day are highly sought after and loved by anyone who has one of their pieces. If you are in Canada and struggle to find Canadian apparel and clothing companies you are not alone. Here in the great white north we have had a very limited selection of homegrown companies to choose from and support. This, however, is changing! Matt and Nat have a simple name with a hugely powerful meaning. 

Being inspired by MAT(T)erial and NATure means exploring the synergy between the two, the reflection of one on the other.

Having a company who's foundation is focused on the parallel reality of manufacturing and nature is fundamentally important when trying to create stunning conscious pieces of clothing and accessories. This includes guaranteeing that since their inception they manufacture their leathers from non-animal hides, sourcing plant-based materials instead. Starting in 2007 they have committed themselves to create linings for their goods out of 100% recycled plastic bottles. Matt and Nat were and seriously are a pioneer in the clothing and accessorizing world. The mainstream fashion world was relatively slow to pick-up on this innovation; in 2013 traction started and the buzz around plant-based leathers started to stir. A guy by the name of Richard Wool really kicked this conversation into high gear. 

Richard Wool is a professor of chemical and bimolecular engineering at the University of Delaware who has really taken it upon himself to further research plant-based materials. He realized that the world's dependency on oil and petroleum derived products is quickly going to come to an end so he headed a team to figure out how to synthesize these materials using plant derived compounds. This is big news not only for plastic based materials but also for animal and petroleum based materials. The fashion industry will be revolutionized when the sourcing of materials isn't focused on where it was produced but more so how. It will take leaders like Matt and Nat to prove to the wider fashion industry that sustainable is possible. Shifting leather production from animal to plant based materials isn't just good for the environment, it is good for human health.

Countless studies have shown the toxicity in the tanning and production process to be detrimental to human health. Creating a demand for more sustainably sourced and ethically made clothing and accessories is a surefire way to shift the industries dependancy of animal leathers. Understanding the supply chain of the goods we consume is key to fully understanding the impact our buying habits have. Companies like Matt and Nat prove that we can still receive the high quality materials that we demand to invest in while sourcing sustainably. Matt and Nat are one of the shining lights in the plant-based leather world but there are so many others to explore. One other example I would like to highlight is Pinatex, who use pineapple waste to manufacture plant-based materials. Their pieces are simple and iconic but utilize waste material turned into beautiful fabrics as oppose to harmful petroleum or animal fabrics. 

If there is one message I would hope that you take away from this discussion it is this: we as consumers have tremendous power to shift industries, what companies we support and buy from clearly show what we demand from a market and can undoubtably show that we demand innovation and new ideas around our goods. This is not a new thought that I hope you take away, I have wrote it many times in my posts and many other people discussion this as well. You are powerful and extremely influential, use your power for good and support brands that are trying to do good by the planet. Browse around Matt and Nat's catalogue and see what they have to offer, compare them to other retailers, I can pretty well assure you that you wont be disappointed. 

Incognito: Interface

ecofriendly, sustainable, supply chainNick Ogden

This month I would like to talk about a few, seemingly, mundane companies that once you scratch the surface are really doing some major good in their industries. The reason why I am going to highlight a few "undercover" conscious companies is because it is important to start to understand who is out their and what they are doing to try and push markets to a sustainable path. Many organizations go above and beyond to let people know that either they are switching their methods or are, from the get-go, consciously leading sustainable organizational practices. So let's delve in and get this month started! 

When we think of carpet many of us think of the dingy old shag carpet that our parents ripped up to find beautiful hardwood underneath (at least I do). Granted, unless you are a homeowner, interior designer or just a [not so] creepy carpet connoisseur you may not think that much of carpet. The fine people at Interface are all 3 of these things except with one exception: a keen vision for the future.

At Interface a “positive vision for the future and the determination to make it come true” is the opening sentence on their “mission” page. This is a rather bold statement because lets get real they produce carpet. How could a company that produces carpet have such a bold mission statement?

Well, as they say themselves: “We are in the business of change.”

Their founder Ray Anderson had a metaphorical and literal “spear in the chest” epiphany in 1994 about the carpet his company produces, in every form, is extremely draining on the environment. He set out to move Interface toward a renewable, cyclical, and benign future; meaning one that created carpet that was completely off course from his competitors.            

If we’re successful, we’ll spend the rest of our days harvesting yester-year’s carpets and other petrochemically derived products, and recycling them into new materials; and converting sunlight into energy; with zero scrap going to the landfill and zero emissions into the ecosystem.
— Ray Anderson, 1994

Interface has done this by redesigning their products, company, networks, economy, and their partnerships. These are big shifts for a company that was founded in 1973, has 33 manufacturing plants, and has 3146 employees (2013). Interface is on the leading edge of creating sustainable business and by example demanding sustainable global business. Interface isn’t creating sustainably produced products because they want the recognition; they are doing so because they believe that this is what business should be like. Ray Anderson doesn’t want a gold medal in sustainability; he wants to create a future worth living in. Ray Anderson, through Interface, is setting the bar high for all other companies. No matter how big you are you can still create a product that harms the environment less or even creates a cyclical, benign future.,o_23uo,a_74,QuickShip_2,ColorFamily_1kw,PatternDescription_w,Scale_8,SizeDescription_g,GlobalProductCategory_1s,I2_2/s0/v0/,o_23uo,a_74,QuickShip_2,ColorFamily_1kw,PatternDescription_w,Scale_8,SizeDescription_g,GlobalProductCategory_1s,I2_2/s0/v0/

Interface has created an EPD program, creating transparency surrounding their environmental impact of their products. This creates an organizational environment centred around Interface's mission statement of cyclical benign business. Having an EPD for a consumable product creates for consumers a platform to realize their buying power and its impact on the global environment. Not only does Interface recognize the need to educate consumers on their environmental impact, they also realize the power of design.

Interface intermingles intrinsic natural designs that reflects their environmental organizational mandates. Interface has partnered with the Buckminster Fuller Institute (BFI) to create this atmosphere of environmentally positive design through a scholarship program for designers striving for this mindset. Designers who are creating environmentally positively projects can apply for this scholarship to bring their ideas to fruition.

Interface is creating partnerships for a more sustainable future. 

For more info on Ray Anderson's spear and a general really interesting video, click the button bellow! 

The next time you think about carpet, think about Interface.

Thank you for reading, and don’t forget to subscribe.