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The Though Kitchen - Dedicated to Stirring the Pot

Archive for May, 2012

Between the Threads: Tencel®, unplugged

Posted by leighann | May 30th, 2012 | Filed under Sustainability, Who We Are
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Tencel: Up close and personal (courtesy of Lenzing)

Don’t Touch Me ‘Cause I’m Electric

Shuffle across a nylon carpet, rub a latex balloon on your noggin, maybe even pry a polyester shirt out of the dryer and you’re reminded that there are other forces at work on this planet. This isn’t shocking; like people, many materials—including the fabrics we wear—hold a charge. But every once in a while, there comes along a fabric that doesn’t take sides, that’s indifferent to a little friction.

Enter Tencel®: the newest sustainable fiber in our Spring 2012 line-up. Made from the pulp of sustainably grown eucalyptus trees, this regenerating fiber has been scientifically proven to have “neutral electric properties” which could be one of the many reasons why Tencel® is noticeably  smoother and more comfortable next to the skin compared to synthetic fabrics.

In fact, in a recent study using electromyography, a method developed by orthopedics to detect the excitability of muscles beneath the skin, 100% polyester fibers created a spontaneous electrical body charge when compared to cellulose fibers such as linen or TENCEL® (Schuster 2006). In other words: wear TENCEL® and you won’t be shocked by this finding.

Of course, this is just one of the many reasons why we love TENCEL®. In addition to its not-so-magnetic personality, TENCEL® absorbs water (as opposed to polyester which repels) which allows it to act like a conduit—regulating body temperature and creating a cool, next-to-the-skin feel. Compared to other natural and synthetic fabrics (see pic above), Tencel®’s smooth fiber structure is incredibly soft to the touch for one of the most skin-friendly fibers.

Most importantly, this regenerating fiber is manufactured using an extremely efficient, closed-loop system which uses a non-toxic organic solvent solution. 98% of the materials used to process TENCEL® are recovered and reused making TENCEL® the most eco-friendly, regenerating fiber.

You can find our entire line of TENCEL® styles, here.

Schuster K., Suchomel F., Manner J., Abu-Rous M., Firgo H. Functional and Comfort Properties of Textiles from TENCEL® Fibers Resulting from the Fibres’ Water-Absorbing Nanostructure: A Review. Macromol. Sym. 2006, 244, 149-165.


Gone Reified

Posted by Guest | May 23rd, 2012 | Filed under Personal Reflection, Sustainability

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A big thanks to Bree Kessler—author, traveler, professor & friend of Nau—for this well-written and insightful piece on the hidden meaning behind a few of today’s most ubiquitous words.

If you live in New York City (and definitely if you live in Brooklyn) it’s nearly impossible to visit a weekend market without seeing the following words: local, organic, artisanal.  If you’re lucky, you will usually see these words used together (as in the photo above taken at the Brooklyn Flea Smorgasburg).  If you’re like me, after you finish nervously laughing at the sign but still purchase the must try item, you wonder: what does it mean for something to be “local” or “organic” or “artisanal”?

I have to be honest, I don’t really know what those words mean and I don’t know if anyone does because these terms are “reified.”  The theory behind “reification” (the noun, “to reify” is the verb) originates in Marxist theory.  The idea is that things (from food to clothes to body parts) are given meanings that do not inherently exist in them.  For instance, when I call some chickpeas “local” I expect that everyone knows what I am inferring: that the chickpeas came from nearby — that they didn’t travel too far.  There was also a time when I thought it meant that they were solely grown on a family farm, handpicked by the farmers sons and daughters.  But for someone else, “local” may have a different definition such as grown within a 500 mile radius or maybe grown within 25 miles and it doesn’t really matter if the harvest was gathered by low-wage workers or not.  Chickpeas are reified in this case because we are assigning a meaning to them that wasn’t there initially.  Making the chickpeas “local” gives them a value that was not originally there before they arrived to Brooklyn Flea Smorgasburg and practically speaking, it may raise their price too.

There is nothing wrong with reification. In fact, Marx himself argued that it was an essential part to creating a market economy: some things are given more value than other things and therefore some items costs more than others.  Local chickpeas are worth more than non-local chickpeas for those willing to pay a premium.  The issue with being a consumer in a reified world is figuring out exactly what these terms mean because they don’t mean the same thing to everyone.  We all know that we prefer our clothing to be made from sustainable materials, but do we know how something becomes a sustainable material or what it means for clothing to be sustainable?  Reification allows us to not think how things become products — to reify allows us to say something is “organic” or “local” or “sustainable” without truly considering how and where that product transitioned from from fabric to shirt  to arrival at your house.  A fun project (much like the one seen here.) I like to see is a slideshow that reveals where you think your shirt (or you chickpeas) come from.  If you make one please post them below.

Bree Kessler is a freelance writer currently living in Northern Alaksa.  She is the author of the Moon Handbook: Big Island of Hawaii and currently completing her PhD in Environmental Psychology from City University of New York — Graduate Center.

A View From In Here

Posted by Leigh | May 17th, 2012 | Filed under Here/Nau/NYC, Positive Change
TEDXEAST

Matthias Hollwich, co-founder of Hollwich Kushner (HWKN), a NYC-based architecture and concept design firm—at TEDXEast.

“Creativity is exhaustion, and one idea beyond that;” this is how globally renowned architect Matthias Hollwich closed his 2012 TedXEast (TED NYC) talk.  Matthias’ speech was focused on sharing his team’s exhaustive creative process in coming up with the perfect architectural concept for the Moma PS1 Young Architectural International Program. At Nau, we understand this. Taking an unconventional and unexpected approach to business and product design can be exhausting, but always worth it.

TEDxEast is one of the 800+ independently organized TED events. Ranked as one of the top five independent events globally, NYC Ted 2012 did not disappoint. At Nau, we’ve always admired the innovative thinking and influential speakers that these top tier events attract. And this past year we were given the opportunity to began supporting TED Long Beach and now TEDxEast through creative sponsorships.

The event theme of this year’s TedXEast was “A View from In Here,” and through four sessions (the Right Brain, the Left Brian, From the Inside Out, and Reframe), 30 speakers were given 18 minutes to give the most important talk of their life. Our lovely host, Julianne Wurm, referred to the day as being “an emotional journey.” And she was right. One of Nau’s fundamental beliefs has been to use business as a force for positive change – it was inspiring to see how many of these speakers are also using business, science, medicine or theatre to make this type of impact.

NYC has the power to draw fantastic individuals, with speakers coming from around the world.  Some standouts included Maya Lin (artist and architect), Dr. Pasi Sahlberg (global school improvement activist), Dr. Colin Campbell (40+ years of being on the forefront of nutrition research and links to cancer), Matthias Hollwich (architect), and Cassandra Lin (13 year old entrepreneur who founded project TGIF – turning grease into fuel), among many many others.

TedXEast talks can be viewed here. We hope you enjoy as much as we did.

The Camera Steals the Soul, Part 3: cycling in cinema

Posted by leighann | May 8th, 2012 | Filed under Art, Bikes, Who We Are

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Since most of us around here are getting back in the saddle after a rather soggy winter (and it’s bike month), we decided it’s time for the third installment of our blog series— The Camera Steals the Soul. You might remember it—our compilation of cheesy Hollywood flicks that have sucked the living soul out of sport (and a few that haven’t). Born out of a few drinks on a cold winter’s night some years ago, our “ode-to-trash” anthology has tackled the ski and surf genres. Now it’s time to shift gears to—yeah, you guessed it—cycling.

Of course, this time around, we’re drinking Prosecco and staring down an 80-degree weekend, which is why our list is short. Plus, we got sidetracked on youtube. You’ll see why.

The Good
Breaking Away
Better off Dead
Napoleon Dynamite
Revenge of the Nerds
A Sunday in Hell

So Bad, It’s Good
American Flyers
Quicksilver
Pee Wee’s Big Adventures
RAD

The Guilty Pleasures
Sh*t Cyclists Say
Performance

Honorable Mention

Wizard of Oz
The Goonies
ET

What did we miss? Let us know.

BioMega: Shifting how we ride

Posted by Leigh | May 4th, 2012 | Filed under Bikes, Design, Partnerships
The Bos

The Bos

We love great design. We think about it, talk about it and realize it’s our distinct, intuitive designs which make Nau styles unique. Our friends over at the Copenhagen-based BioMega have a similar approach to thinking about product design. The philosophy behind their stunning collection of commuter bicycles is to create bikes so beautiful that they transform the way a society thinks about transportation. Their goal is to create urban-landscape changing bikes which imbue cities with meaning and create deeper connections with the natural world.

Of course, we believe BioMega’s mission is similar to ours: to create beautiful, sustainable garments that transform the way an industry does business and the way consumers think about fashion. We also appreciate how, like us, they see design as a vehicle to express something familiar in a new, unexpected way — not just for design’s sake, but with performance and end use in mind.

To celebrate our similar ideologies (and to kick off national bike month), we teamed up with Biomega to offer a chance to win the ultra-portable Boston bike (aka The Bos) and a head-to-toe Nau kit. The Bos, with its theft-proof, foldable design, is described by its designer as a mix of  “BMX, Downhill bikes, and American bad boy pop culture.” Upon its debut, it won such praise that it became a permanent fixture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Now you can have a chance to win this piece of foldable art and any Nau kit of your choice. Register to win here. Only a few days left. The winner will be announced on May 9th in our Off The Grid newsletter.

To learn more about BioMega and the BOS, check out their website here.

Welcome Bikes Belong

Posted by Josie | May 1st, 2012 | Filed under Bikes, Partners for Change

When we decided to add a new partner to our Partner for Change program, the decision was unanimous to bring Bikes Belong into the fold.

The Bikes Belong Foundation was launched in 2006 in Boulder, CO. Their mission is simple: get more people on bikes more often.

They have their hands in a variety of bike related projects including: maximizing federal support for bicycling, connecting communities through bike projects, organizing ad campaigns, promoting bikes through the Safe Routes to School partnerships and the program we’re supporting– People for Bikes.

If this motivational poster above Peter’s desk isn’t enough to convince you to choose two wheels instead of four the next time you leave the house, read more about the benefits of biking on their website.

BikesBelongPost

Welcome Bikes Belong, we’re proud to welcome you to the Partners for Change program.

Well, hello there Mr. Obama

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Courtesy of University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Last August in the Thought Kitchen, we featured a two-part, behind-the-scenes look the Eco Index—a collaborative effort with the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) to create an industry-wide standard in sustainability. Well thanks to OIA and their tenacious work on the Eco Index, the organization was recently recognized by the White House.

Yes, that’s right: the Barackness Monster (thanks to Jimmy Fallon and his slow-jamming term of endearment) selected the OIA Sustainability Working Group (SWG) as a Champion for Change for Environmental Sustainability. The Champion for Change program was created as part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative to formally recognize extraordinary efforts across different industries and communities.

We’d like to extend a big congrats to OIA SWG’s volunteer collaboration of more than 250 outdoor industry brands for their persistent effort to create higher standards in sustainability. And, more specifically, thanks to Jamie Bainbridge, our Director of Textile Development and Sustainability, for her tireless work representing Nau as part of OIA SWG’s Advisory Council.

While the industry still has a long way to go, it’s comforting to know that sustainable efforts are being recognized by our governmental leaders.