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The Though Kitchen - Dedicated to Stirring the Pot

Posts by

Leighann Franson

The Dirt on Laundry: Ideas on Lightening Your Load

Posted by leighann | April 21st, 2014 | Filed under Environmental Change, Positive Change, Sustainability, Who We Are

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In his 2008 Ted Talk, Hans Rosling argued that the washing machine was the single greatest invention of the industrial revolution. Instead of spending hours every day collecting water, hand washing along an antiquated washboard, and hanging each garment on a clothesline, we were now free to read more books, learn new languages, go to school, and—yes—contribute to greenhouse gases.

While the washing machine has freed us up to enjoy a few (hundred) extra cups of coffee in the morning, it has also contributed significantly to the environmental footprint of a garment. Some say that over the course of a garment’s lifetime, up to 82% of energy use, 66% of solid waste, and over 50% of air emissions come from washing and drying. Surprisingly, more water and energy are used during consumer care than in production.  That’s why, at Nau, we design our clothes to thrive using low-impact cleaning methods.

To make sure your Nau clothing lives a long life, we’ve compiled a few ideas to lighten your load.  By following such practices, you not only guarantee your garment’s long life, you also join us in minimizing their impact on the earth.

1
Wear it longer.
Underwear aside, hear us out: In 2003, the average American household washed 392 loads of laundry. Now multiply that by 40 —the average number of gallons of water the modern washing machine uses to wash a full load (high efficiency washers use between 15-20 gallons per load). If the average American reduced their load by just 30%, each household would cut their yearly water use by almost 5,000 gallons.

At Nau, we take this idea a step further and use a muted color palette that easily hides dirt or wear. Jamie and Josie recommend the “sniff” test, which really needs no explanation.

2
Reduce your temp.
Our friends over at Marks and Spencer have something to say about this:
“Lowering your washing temperature to 30°C (86°F) can save around 40% energy per wash.  In fact, the Energy Saving Trust calculated that if we all moved to washing at 30°C, we’d save enough electricity to light every street lamp in the UK for 10 months.”

At Nau, we design our clothes to be washed in cold water, which not only gets them clean, but saves energy. We also recommend waiting until you have a full load to be the most efficient.

3
Use non-toxic laundry detergents.
Unlike synthetic detergents that contain surfactants made from petrochemicals, non-toxic laundry products use readily biodegradable ingredients made from natural materials like corn and coconut oils. Plus, all modern detergents are designed to perform under cold temperatures.

4
Hand wash your clothes.
Maybe not with a washboard, but with a good pair of hands, a bathtub, and some Method liquid laundry soap. We’re also big fans of this bike-powered washing machine (although we’ve never tried it).

5
Line dry.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that all residential clothes dryers in the U.S. annually consume about 43 billion kilowatt hours of electricity and 445 million therms of natural gas. That adds up to 32 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year.

But using wind and sun will get the job done. And it’s free. That’s why we designed all of our clothes to look great—especially when line dried.
Want to learn more about caring for your Nau clothing? Visit Product Care.

The Uncommoners: Meet the Ambassador of Food

Posted by leighann | March 12th, 2014 | Filed under Partnerships, Positive Change, Sustainability, Who We Are

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Last month, we asked for nominations for our next Uncommoner. Submissions poured in: tool makers, bike builders, community organizers, milliners, compost cultivators. The choice was difficult. But after careful consideration, we’d like to introduce you to our newest Uncommoner. She’s an entrepreneur, teacher, food advocate, and Board member of Slow Food USA working at the crossroads of policy, education, and food sovereignty to change the way we eat. And she makes one mean cabbage dish. Meet Katherine Deumling, the Ambassador of Food and brainchild behind Cook With What You Have.
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Meet the venerable Jun Kang, Nau’s new President

Posted by leighann | February 12th, 2014 | Filed under Partnerships, Who We Are

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You might have heard; we’ve been eating a lot of Korean food lately. We’ve also been busy celebrating the year of the Blue Horse with a spacious new office, beautiful spring line, and—yes—even new owners. The Korean-based, outdoor brand, Black Yak and Nau have officially tied the knot.  

This week in the Thought Kitchen, we’re honored to sit down with  Jun Suk Kang, Nau’s new President, to find out what’s ahead for Nau and Black Yak, what’s going to change, and what he thinks about being voted one of Portland Monthly magazine’s most fascinating dinner guests.
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The Escape Collective: Exploring the Other Side of Ordinary

Posted by leighann | January 15th, 2014 | Filed under Art, Design, Travel

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Four friends. Four days. No limits. What would you create? That’s what a group of friends had in mind when they set out to build a Geodesic dome. Two months later, their passion-fueled venture landed them a coveted spot at Summit, a Davos-meets-Ted conference for young thought leaders. Self-named the Escape Collective, this fledging group of makers, creators and designers are our third portrait in the Uncommoners—our blog series dedicated to exploring the other side of ordinary.

But this isn’t a story about how to build a 30-foot, low-frequency geodesic dome or how to sew a massive waterproof cover composed of 256 panels of unused material from Nike golf bags (yes, that did happen). This isn’t even a story about the Escape Collective and the other 800-or-so entrepreneurs, artists and leaders they joined at Summit’s newly acquired Powder Mountain Resort last July. No. This is a story about freedom, creativity, and the ideas born out of unencumbered space and time. Because as Einstein once said, “Creativity is the residue of time wasted.” And in a world punctuated by deadlines and deliverables, no one embraces this lost maxim more than The Escape Collective.

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The Cultivators: Farming with a Social Purpose

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photo by Giles Clement

In our next installment of The Uncommoners: Exploring the Other Side of Ordinary, Lindsey heads to Long Beach, Washington to get her hands dirty and learn what it means to farm with a Social Purpose.

When I accepted an invitation from Starvation Alley Farms to join their cranberry harvest last month, I didn’t know what to expect. Perhaps, an idyllic Ocean Spray commercial or another episode of Dirty Jobs. (Yes. Mike Rowe visited a cranberry farm.). But what I found was hard work, laughter, great cocktails and a deep sense of community with people who were passionate about food, family and local farming.

After a few cranberry cocktails, I sat down with farmers, Jessika Tantisook and Jared Oakes, to learn how this small family-run experiment expanded into a corporation with a unique uncommon product and an even more uncommon purpose.

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The Uncommoners: Exploring the Other Side of Ordinary

Posted by leighann | October 29th, 2013 | Filed under Design, Partnerships, Who We Are

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We all know them, those friends who work behind-the-scenes, who fly under the radar while doing extraordinary things. They build stuff. They make things. They grow goods. And they do it quietly without the need for accolades or recognition. They’re our friends and neighbors. They’re the humble warriors who live their passion everyday and create positive change. They’re people like Katy Anderson. Known by some as the Lady Carpenter, Katy—as her moniker suggests—is a skilled craftswoman in a man’s world. She’s also the first portrait in The Uncommoners, our new Off-The-Grid series dedicated to exploring the other side of ordinary.
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Design Eye: Introducing the Fall Collection

Posted by leighann | August 20th, 2013 | Filed under Design, Design Eye, Who We Are

This week in the Thought Kitchen, Peter Kallen‚ Senior Designer, talks inspiration behind our new fall collection and why we believe good design is efficiency and beauty in its purest form. No accidents. No distractions. Just simple, effortless, uncompromising design. It’s something the natural world has been doing right for some 4.5 billion years. That’s why our fall line-up draws inspiration from the world around us—how we move within it, how we interact with it, how we perceive it—to create timeless, intuitive apparel for real life.

Shop the collection on nau.com.

Fall 2013 Collection: A Sneak Peek

Posted by leighann | July 30th, 2013 | Filed under Design, Photography, Sustainability, Who We Are

This fall, our collection takes inspiration from the greatest source of design excellence. We harnessed the most efficient, intuitive and effortless force that has ever existed and transformed it into an apparel line that fuses the natural and the manmade. This means sustainable luxe fabrics, intuitive construction, and minimalist silhouettes. It means more refined style and foolproof technical performance. It means blending the tailored and the technical to create a sophisticated line of apparel that can not be defined by landscape or geography.

Here’s a sneak peek of what’s to come.

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The Growing Global Pelaton

Posted by leighann | June 11th, 2013 | Filed under Bikes, Positive Change, Who We Are

We got a nice chuckle out of last week’s The New Yorker cover by artist Marcellus Hall depicting the much-anticipated (and much-hyped) launch of New York City’s new bike sharing program, Citibike. Even though it joins hundreds of bike-sharing programs already in existence, you’d think the media darling was the first of its kind.

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Sustainable Chemistry: Changing the Alchemy of Apparel

Posted by leighann | April 10th, 2013 | Filed under Environmental Change, Positive Change, Sustainability, Who We Are

Here’s a sobering stat: 80,000 chemicals are currently used around the world today. Most of these chemicals are untested and a surprising portion are used to make your clothes. From dying and finishing to spinning, ginning and even laundering, chemicals are used in every step of the textile process making even natural fibers unsustainable. But the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA)—along with Jamie Bainbridge, our Director of Textile Development and Sustainability—is spearheading an initiative that hopes to change all of that. How? By adopting a mission of continuous improvement and establishing a carefully cultivated list of preferred chemicals. Sounds simple, sure. But first the OIA has to convince an entire disparate and often complex global manufacturing industry that sustainable chemistry is good for business.

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