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Archive for the Positive Change Category

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.
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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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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 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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On the Border of Syria: A Dispatch from Mercy Corps

Posted by Guest | January 2nd, 2013 | Filed under Partners for Change, Partnerships, Personal Reflection, Positive Change

Hasna and her seven children fled the civil war in Syria with practically nothing. Mercy Corps-distributed clothes, blankets, mattresses and gas heating supplies will help them through the winter. Photo: Jeremy Barnicle/Mercy Corps

This week in the Thought Kitchen, Jeremy Barnicle, Chief Development and Communications Officer for Mercy Corps, one of our longstanding Partners for Change, travels to Jordan to give us a first hand account of the Syrian refugee crisis and what we can do to help.

Mafraq, Jordan — I am sitting on the floor of a cold, crumbling single room dwelling just on the Jordan side of the Syria-Jordan border.  I’m sipping Turkish coffee, surrounded by a family of Syrian refugees.  The coffee isn’t warming me up much: it is December and it is freezing.

My host is a lady named Hasna Erhael.  She’s a 36 year old mother of seven, six of whom are girls and are sitting with us.  Her oldest child, a 15-year-old boy, is out collecting recyclables to make some money.  Hasna and her family fled Syria a few months ago when their town came under attack by the Syrian army.  Her husband is back in Syria fighting the regime and says he won’t stop until they have taken Damascus.

They came over the border with nothing, and nothing is pretty much what they still have.  They rent this room with help from relatives.  No work.  No school.  No toys or art supplies.  No furniture. No electricity or heat.  No running water.

I don’t want to make Hasna sound like a victim — that’s certainly not how she sees herself.  She tells me she and her family just need to be able to eat a little bit and they’ll be able to hold out until the fighting ends and they can return to Syria. But she is nervous for her girls: “They have nothing to do.  They miss school and they are totally bored.”  They are clearly struggling, and that’s where Mercy Corps comes in.

We are working with a local religious leader to identify Syrian refugees — more than 15,000 of them are hunkered down among the 60,000 permanent resident — and help meet some of their basic needs.  Right now, we have the money to help about 1000 refugee families in Mafraq get prepared for winter: that means we’ve giving them winter coats, blankets, kitchen supplies, food packages, gas heaters and gas.  In general, we are a “hand-up not a hand-out” kind of operation, but in times like this we do our best to bring struggling people some measure of material comfort.  Mercy Corps is providing similar support to Syrian refugees throughout the region.

Mercy Corps is proud to be a partner of Nau.  Support from Nau and its customers allows us to meet the needs of people like Hasna and her family.  For more on our response with Syrian refugees, click here.  

Jeremy Barnicle at the Zataari refugee camp in Jordan. Mercy Corps drilled the well, which will serve all 40-plus thousand Syrian refugees in the camp, plus tens of thousands who live in neighboring communities.

Partners For Change: Unlimited and Unrestricted

Posted by Josie | December 2nd, 2012 | Filed under Environmental Change, Partners for Change, Positive Change

As the Managing Director of our Partners for Change program, I get the honor of handing over a hefty check to each of our five partners. Twice a year, I gather all of our final revenue numbers, calculate our final donations, and put a check in the mail with a card, signed by everyone in the office. Over the years, I’ve watched the running tally of our donations climb to several hundred thousand dollars.

I understand, first hand, the reality of our impact when I watch the presentations given by Mercy Corps field staff about the work they’re doing to solve the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa or when I hear Obama reference Breakthrough Institute’s research into the history of American clean energy innovation.  Every person at Nau and our sister company Horny Toad would agree with me when I say: We whole heartedly believe that it’s our responsibility as a for-profit company to support the NGO’s that are creating positive change in the world.

Yet every time we make a donation, I am reminded that all donations are not alike. Every time I talk to our partners, they all say the same thing; “receiving unrestricted funds is critical to the success of our organization.” Our Partners for Change rely heavily on donations from companies like us and people like you to reach their milestones. Unfortunately, a large portion of the money they receive is restricted, meaning it can only be spent on specific projects, and it can not be used for every need of an organization–like electric bills or new technology. As Dan Pallota, non-profit advocate and author of Charity Case, said, “Low overhead is not the path to transformation of society.”

So this holiday season, when you donate, I encourage you to give unrestricted and empower the NGO’s that are truly creating positive change in this world.

The Naked Truth about Nudie Jeans

Posted by leighann | October 9th, 2012 | Filed under Design, Partnerships, Positive Change, Sustainability

 Here’s to Nudie Jeans, our new Collective partner, going 100% organic. Check out their instragram contest and win a trip to Italy to see how premium organic denim is made.

Here’s a sobering statistic: it takes 2/3 pound of pesticides to produce enough conventional cotton to make one pair of jeans. Apply that fact to the over 450 million pairs of jeans that are sold in the US every year, and well, you get a few more zeros and a much more sobering statistic

That’s why, six years ago, Nudie Jeans—our new Collective partner— set a goal: to make their entire line of premium, high-quality denim using only 100% organic cotton by 2012. It was an ambitious goal. Entire supply chains have to be reevaluated, new fabrics developed, and old business practices reexamined.
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Midway: Message From The Gyre

Posted by Alex | August 24th, 2012 | Filed under Art, Positive Change, Sustainability

“Do we have the courage to face the realities of our time?” – Chris Jordan

In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, two thousand miles from the nearest continent, the skeletons of baby albatrosses reveal a sobering reality. Small mounds of feather and bone, their grey remains curl around unexpected piles of color: bottle caps, fish nets and cigaret lighters where their stomachs used to be.

These birds are the latest victims of a plastic plague borne to the shores of Midway Island by the currents of the Pacific Gyre. Caught in the circular currents of the North Pacific, generations of our garbage have accumulated into a soup of plastic covering thousands of square miles. Suspended below the surface, the waste is invisible from above, but is often mistaken for food by sea creatures of all sizes. In the tragic case of the albatross, it’s then fed from mother to hatchling, dooming the baby birds to a premature death.

deadbirdWe’ve often covered the Pacific Gyre garbage patch on The Thought Kitchen, it’s impact on the Oregon Coast, and other efforts to draw attention to the unfolding ecological disaster. But few of those efforts compare to MIDWAY, the latest project from photographer Chris Jordan, which documents the tragedy in unflinching detail.

Back when Nau was first starting out, one of our founders was fond of asking a simple question: “How do we ignore what we know to be true?” As an artist and photgrapher, Jordan has been asking much the same question through works that open people’s eyes to the true impacts of our consumption. Back in 2007, we covered his project “Running The Numbers,” which sought to give scale to statistics that catalog our waste—numbers like two million: the number of plastic beverage bottles used in the US every five minutes. Now he’s turned his lens to the Pacific Gyre, and with the help of Kickstarter Funds is filming a feature documentary on the unfolding horror resulting from that consumption.

Check out the trailer above, and learn more about Chris’ project on his blog. You can make a donation to support the project here.

Dealer Dispatch: The Wild Trails of Rock Creek

Posted by Bryanna | June 12th, 2012 | Filed under Outdoor Sport, Partnerships, Positive Change

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Located in the heart of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Rock/Creek Outfitters has been named one of the “Top 25 Outdoor Retailers” year over year. They’ve also been a long time brand ambassador and retailer of Nau Clothing. This week in the Thought Kitchen, we caught up with the adventure retailer to find out more about their Rock/Creek Trail Series: an eight-race event benefiting Wild Trails, an organization dedicated to the use, expansion and promotions of trails in Tennessee.

Ten years ago, Matt Simms—a Rock/Creek employee at the time—decided it was time for the general public to discover the wilderness in Chattanooga. So he, and a few others, started a trail race called the Rock/Creek River Gorge, one of the eight races still in the series today.

Needless to say, the races were a hit. So in 2007 Matt, along with a few others who shared his vision, founded the Wilderness Trail Running Association  Their mission? To promote the sport of trail running and the preservation of trails not just for runners but for everyone with a passion for the outdoors.

In the months following, the board went through a process of refining its mission and evaluating what would be required to build a sustainable organization committed to promoting outdoor recreation and preserving trails in the region. One of the founder of Wild Trails says, “Trail running will always be our first love, but we realized that the work we were doing on trails was benefiting not just the trail running community but all users of trails. We also realized that to gain the momentum we needed to affect positive change and create a culture of commitment to preservation we needed the support of more than just the trail running community. “

While some of the races are strictly for experienced marathoners, the appeal of the Trail Series is to have everyone enjoy running on trails.  As Jeff Bartlett, organizer for the series, says, “Some will start out running 10k races and end up running 50k races, and some won’t, and we think that’s just fine!”

Jeff’s attitude is the epitome of Wild Trails mission, to get the people out and active on these trails while preserving them for generations to come.

To donate, participate or just learn more, check out Wild Trails and the Salmon Rock/Creek Trail Series.