Monday, April 27, 2015

Patagonia invests $1 million in Beyond Surface Technologies, a Swiss company aiming to eliminate chemicals in outerwear

Patagonia is upping its own environmental ante with a $1 million investment in Beyond Surface Technologies, a Swiss company that’s pushing petrochemicals out of the gear closet

ur ski jacket is full of petrochemicals. Ditto a fair amount of the other clothing in your closet that attains that magical, paradoxical state of being both waterproof and breathable when you’re hiking or biking up a steep ridge in a fierce storm.
Through decades of tweaks and improvements, material scientists and chemists have produced these miracle fabrics through a combination of membranes and finishes. High performance comes at an environmental cost, however, since these substances rely on petrochemical feed stocks. Plus, the use of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in finishes used to create durable water-repellent (DWR) exteriors—a key part of that waterproof-breathable magic that outerwear can attain—has an especially dark side: The chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is a by-product of PFC production, and studies have shown it to cause developmental problems in lab animals. The toxin, which plays a role in many industrial applications, has made its way into the environment, and small amounts are found everywhere, from the blood of polar bears to the blood of most humans.
Today, nearly every major outdoor apparel brand uses PFC-based finishes for waterproof-breathable jackets and pants. The EPA has been working with chemical companies for years to phase out the DWR finish, known as C8, that produces the most PFOA. Most companies are moving to a different DWR, known as C6, but here’s the rub: This alternative falls short in terms of performance, and it still generates trace amounts of PFOA. Plus, it’s still reliant on petrochemical feedstocks.
As part of its larger mission to reduce the environmental impacts of its products and supply chain, Patagonia announced earlier this month that its venture arm,$20 Million and Change, has invested $1 million in Beyond Surface Technologies (BST), a Swiss startup that’s developing plant-based chemicals it believes can replace conventional PFC-based finishes.
BST was formed in 2008 by a group of textile industry veterans with a strong background in chemistry who wanted to produce waterproof-breathable textile finishes differently. “It dawned on me that it is a bit crazy what we were doing,” says BST director Mathias Foessel, referring to mainstream companies seeking alternative petro-based finishes. “We were developing products with inherent hazards, and then trying to find the best way to mitigate those risks or control those hazards.”
So BST started developing alternatives to the alternatives. “What if we eliminated the risks to begin with? Why not come up with [textile] finishes with lower hazards or no hazards? And then we can use crude oil for something more important.”
Five years in, BST has brought three different bio-based finishes to market that are already being used by a number of major brands, including Patagonia, Levi’s, Adidas, and Puma.
These finishes include the Midori Biosoft, which is designed for use on base layers;Midori Biolink, a natural acid-based finish for denim (replacing a conventional finish that contains formaldehyde, Foessel says); and Midori Evopel, which is the holy grail of textile finishes because it is designed for waterproof-breathable shell fabrics. 
BST is using a range of agricultural and algal products as feedstocks, with a focus on raw materials that have been approved to use in personal care products or food additives. “If it’s approved to rub into your skin or to eat, it should be okay to functionalize your textile with,” Foessel reasons. BST also avoids GMOs and plants that would compete with food crops. It is also using some waste products from the production of other bio-based chemicals, such as biodiesel. 
BST’s work is far from complete. Foessel says he’s confident that the Midori Biosoft and Biolink products are on par with the performance of their crude-based counterparts, but the current formulation for Evopel is a work in progress. For one, Evopel relies on a mix of crude- and bio-based feedstocks at this stage (Biosoft and Biolink are both 100 percent bio-based). For another, it’s not ready to go neck-and-neck with conventional waterproofing finishes.
“There is research needed to put it up a notch and increase performance,” he says of Evopel. “With PFCs used in sportswear and apparel, you have different classes of performance and expectations. We believe [Evopel] is not good enough yet.”
This is why that $1 million from Patagonia is well timed. 

Natural fibers have drawbacks not only in terms of performance but also the amount of water needed to produce them compared to synthetics.   Photo: Courtesy of Patagonia

The financial support from $20 Million and Change is also the first outside funding BST has accepted; until now, the founders have bootstrapped the firm. “We have turned down other investors who wanted to take a larger role [in BST], and we declined because we felt it was important to keep the freedom of being able to work and test what we want to, and even fail and come back and restart. That’s part of the fun,” Foessel says. “We have to be independent in our decision making. We have a high rate of failure, and if there was someone in the back room trying to veto ideas, we’d not have gotten here.”
Of course, even if BST succeeds in disrupting the crude-based textile finishes sector, most of the fabric its products will be used on will continue to be derived from crude (although many polyesters are made from recycled PET bottles). 
All consumer products have environmental impacts, and those impacts have to be viewed across the product’s entire lifecycle—natural fibers have drawbacks not only in terms of performance but also the amount of water needed to produce them compared to synthetics. Still, Foessel believes it may be possible to use the Biolink finish on base layers made from natural fibers and match the wicking performance of synthetics, though that would require innovations from other parts of the textile world. “We started at zero. We came with a strong passion. I think we need experts in other fields who can do the same [to put the performance of natural fibers on par with synthetics].”

Friday, April 10, 2015

Clothes You Can Feel Good About Wearing | Outside Online

Clothes You Can Feel Good About Wearing - These 15 progressive companies are making sustainable clothing that looks as great as it wears.

Monday, March 2, 2015


By Protect Our Winters
Here at POW, we rely largely on our corporate partners to achieve our mission. These partners recognize the success of their business directly relies on the health of the environment and therefor align their core values with direct action to help protect it. These are the companies who understand the role they can play in the climate movement is massive and that inaction will have direct influence on their business and way of life.
Fortunately for us, we work with a number of brands that have built environmental responsibility and climate advocacy into their corporate DNA and into their annual business plans. Together, these brands have come to represent the lion’s share of the market in the winter sports industry and have the economic and social might to create the social movement that we desperately need to effectively address climate change. We can’t thank these partners enough for their commitment to us, the community and the environment.
We prefaced this post with that because no matter how big or how small, corporate involvement in climate change is critical to save a season that’s an integral part of our culture and identity, but also the economic backbone of the global winter sports industry.
The most common question we ask ourselves on a daily basis at Protect Our Winters is, “How can we make the biggest impact?” In 2012, when considering getting involved with a massive fight against coal exports in the Pacific Northwest, we asked ourselves this again and started doing some research.  First and foremost, the biggest opportunity we saw was that it became very apparent that part of the reason that the issue hasn’t risen to the level of climate emergency outside of the PNW is because the scope of the destruction is virtually unimaginable.
It’s hard to fully imagine the impact 50 trains a day, loaded with coal, can have as they rumble through on their way from Wyoming, unless of course you live in one of the many small communities along the on the rail line,  you’re one of the affected Native Americans who call these places sacred, or one of Washington state’s legendary waterways risking coal dust (or worse, a coal spill) in their fragile ecosystem. And then if that’s not enough, consider the global climate impacts when that coal is burned.
And that begged the question: why are we all not aware of this when the amount of carbon emissions produced by the burning of this coal deposit alone outweighs that of Keystone XL and would undoubtedly result in irreversible impacts on the global climate?
Momenta would be our way to truly illustrate what’s at stake and place it in the minds of a broader audience to spotlight what this small group of fossil fuel companies is risking for their own profits.
And so Momenta was born.
First step: funding. In all truth, we undertook a documentary project that was probably bigger than we were able to execute at the time, but it was important to us and our members that we do something meaningful. The price tag was bigger than any project we’d ever undertaken, so we filmed an incredibly powerful trailer and threw it up on Kickstarter. The donations came in from local citizens that truly cared, but we came up short. By a lot.
With seven hours to go before the Kickstarter campaign was scheduled to end (and if you don’t make your campaign goal by the end, you don’t get anything) we had pretty must lost hope on bringing Momenta to life.
It was 10:30 p.m. in Los Angeles. Then the phone rang. It was Ed Lewis from SNOCRU, a social startup app for the winter sports community based in Park City, calling from Gillette, WY (home of the Powder River Basin). He wanted to know more about Momenta. He was driving to Utah and was blown away by the destruction from the coal mining in the area and wanted to get SNOCRU involved somehow, as he knew what more burned coal in the world meant to global CO2 levels. I filled him in on Momenta and after hearing about the soon-to-be-failed Kickstarter campaign he simply asked, “how much do you need?”
Within minutes, Kickstarter alarms were going off in my email and with six hours to go, Momenta was funded.  We launchedMomenta this week, in very large part because of the generosity and the commitment of a startup brand called SNOCRU and a CEO who knows that without paying attention to the environment, there will be no need for businesses like his own.
And that’s what we hope other brands in the snow community will do – see beyond today and understand that in order to stay in business for generations, we all need to act like SNOCRU, to visualize what a world without snow would be like and take meaningful action. It’s time to step up and help protect our winters, for our livelihoods and for future generations.
Watch Momenta here for free, now:
Learn more about SNOCRU here:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Boombot REX

Boombotix, a leader in portable music technology, announces the “Build-A-Bot” customization tool for the Boombot REX. 

The Build-A-Bot also comes with limited edition artwork created by Benny Gold (MSRP 

The Boombot REX ultraportable Bluetooth speaker connects to iPods, computers, 

tablets and other smartphones with Bluetooth capability. The special polymer housing 

means Boombots are built to withstand more than just general wear and tear. Build-A-

Bot allows users to create a unique Boombot REX by mix-and-matching the speaker’s 

grills, bezel, clip and body color. Additionally, Build-A-Bot users can upload pictures from 

smartphones or personal artwork, and print it on a Boombot REX’s grill.

“We’re the first speaker manufacturer to allow this level of customization through our 

website,” said Boombotix founder Lief Storer. “Having the ability to put my dog’s face on 

a Boombot REX speaks volumes to what customized speakers represent and what 

Boombotix was always meant to be: a personalized, ultraportable music experience.”

Boombotix partnered with Benny Gold to create three limited edition designs that users 

can select when customizing a speaker. With offices in San Francisco only two miles 

apart, the two brands made for a natural fit. 

“The Gold brand consistently partners with companies that represent quality products, 

and the Boombot REX exemplifies that value,” said Benjamin Weiner, creator of the 

Benny Gold brand. “The designs we created for this partnership include imagery that 

The Boombot REX boasts the best sound for its size, among other attractive 

specifications for a rugged, ultraportable speaker:

 A rechargeable medical grade lithium-ion battery (1500mAH capacity) offering a 

 Improved hydro-sealing to handle light rain/snow (IPX4 rating)

 Easy to reach top mounted button configuration

 Embedded microphone to take calls on the go

 Power: 2 x 3W Full Range Drivers + Passive Bass Woofer

 Bluetooth 2.1 A2DP Wireless Connectivity

All Boombots come with a one-year, “no matter what” warranty. The ABS polymer 

housing makes every speaker ultraportable and ultra rugged.  Boombotix offers many 

accessories, such as the bicycle handlebar bar mount and TuffSKIN protective cover, to 

give users even more creative and travel freedom.


Boombotix was founded to make the best ultra-portable speaker experience. The 

company’s weatherproof speakers feature premium acoustics, wireless connectivity, 

rechargeable batteries, and ruggedized shells built to last. Boombotix’s speakers 

interface with smartphones, tablets, laptops and most mobile devices. These ultra-

portable speakers are the new evolution of mobile audio: Boombots.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Marie-France Roy To Receive New Climate Activist Award in Denver - Transworld Business

CARLSBAD, Calif., Jan. 29, 2015 — New for 2015, TransWorld SNOWboarding, in partnership with Protect Our Winters, will present the Climate Activist Award to Marie-France Roy at the 16th Annual Riders’ Poll Awards.
With the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA recently announcing that 2014 was the hottest year across global land and ocean surfaces, the creation of this new award is especially timely, as this is the first year since 1990 that the high temperature record was broken in the absence of El NiƱo conditions in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean near the equator. The 10 warmest years on record have also all occurred since 2000.
“Snowboarders are one of the first groups to really see the effects of climate change firsthand and we stand to lose a lot from less predictable snowfall and snowpack,” says Chris Steinkamp, Executive Director of Protect Our Winters. “Not only are we facing shorter and more unpredictable winters, but increased avalanche danger due to more erratic freeze/thaw cycles. We hope this award inspires our community to come together over this issue and change our own habits. We also need to continue pressuring world leaders to make policy changes that regulate and reduce carbon emissions because we all want to keep riding for generations to come.”
To select candidates for the award, TransWorld SNOWboarding and Protect Our Winters looked for riders who inspired others, took meaningful action, and did something notable in the past year in the fight against climate change.
After careful consideration of several riders who embodied this spirit, Marie-France Roy was chosen for her bold move to step away from filming a traditional video part to make The Little Things movie.
The film includes some riding but focuses mostly on Roy’s own efforts to reduce her environmental footprint and highlights other riders taking action on the grassroots and political levels, including Jeremy Jones, Gretchen Bleiler, and Tamo Campos.
“Marie took a risk and stepped out of her comfort zone to make this film,” says Gerhard Gross, Managing Editor at TransWorld SNOWboarding. “She had no idea how it would be received since it’s very different from most snowboard videos, but breaking away from the status quo is exactly the type of action we need to see more of in the fight against climate change.”
While it’s difficult to have zero carbon footprint, Roy has consistently looked for ways to reduce her impact in her daily life, making her an example to snowboarders everywhere, another reason she was chosen for this award.
Join us on Friday, January 30 at the Ogden Theater in Denver, Colorado to recognize Marie-France Roy for breaking the mold and standing up for what she believes in. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. For those who can’t make it, catch videos of the winners at
The Riders’ Poll Awards are sponsored by GoPro, Martin Guitar, Bird Dog Whiskey, and Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Industry guests, RSVP HERE
For more on TransWorld SNOWboarding and the prestigious Riders’ Poll Awards, visit
For updates, get connected to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds at @TWSNOW (#RIDERSPOLL16).
About TransWorld SNOWboarding
TransWorld SNOWboarding is the world’s number one snowboard media outlet with an audience of over 1.4-million. Celebrating 28 years since its inception in 1987, TransWorld SNOWboarding continues to successfully and creatively cover the snowboard culture with innovative photography, original videos, award-winning print and multi-layered digital magazines, snowboard instruction, consumer events and cutting edge awards shows. TransWorld SNOWboarding can be found online at and is based in Carlsbad, California.
About TEN: The Enthusiast Network
TEN: The Enthusiast Network LLC is the world’s premier network of enthusiast brands, such as Motor Trend, Automobile, Hot Rod, Surfer, Transworld and GrindTV. With more than 60 publications, 100 Web sites, the world’s largest automotive VOD channel, 800 branded products, 50+ events, TV and radio programs, TEN creates and delivers content that informs, entertains, inspires and connects with enthusiasts every day. For more information visit