This Eco-Friendly Clothing Brand Employs Adults with Disabilities in their Packing Warehouse and Continues to Revolutionize the Fashion Industry with Sustainable Shippers and Innovative Programs to Encourage Clothing Repair & Reuse.
Toad&Co is one of the few apparel companies that is part for-profit business, part social enterprise. Since it first launched out of a Colorado warehouse, the company’s founder has been fueled by an optimistic vision to sell eco-friendly clothes while fulfilling a social mission. In 1996, the company brought that vision to life, founding Planet Access Company (PAC) that trains and employs adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to pick and pack their orders. PAC has enriched the lives of over 1,000 people who often struggle to find stable employment or opportunities to feel a valued part of their community. Toad&Co’s eco-friendly clothes are made from a vetted list of sustainable fibers and recycled materials, and their versatile day to night designs make them long-standing staples in your wardrobe. But if you do ever want to change things up, the Toad offers trade in programs for store credit so that your digs never end up in a landfill.
The Outdoors are for Everyone
Toad&Co may be the most wholesome clothing company you’ll ever meet. From its in-house social programs, to its eco-friendly fabrics, classic styles, and accepting work culture, Toad&Co is all about changing the fast fashion industry from the ground up.
Founder Gordon Seabury says when he broke out onto the outdoor fashion scene in the early 90’s, he was inspired by the few big businesses that were creating a positive impact – Patagonia, Ben and Jerry’s, and Stoneyfield to name the few. While most businesses were focused on environmental impact, Seabury understood that his company could serve to improve people’s lives. In 1996, Seabury teamed up with John Lipscomb of the non-profit Search to realize his vision.
One Friday afternoon, as Toad&Co staff were gathering for a Friday Happy Hour tradition that included packing and shipping orders, Lipscomb came to Seabury with a revolutionary idea – to train and employ the adults with disabilities from Search to take over responsibilities at the warehouse.
Together, they launched Planet Access Company (PAC), Toad&Co’s biggest leap for its social mission, a company that creates long-term employment opportunities for adults with disabilities, which in turn offer stability, joy, and pride. PAC, which gives all of its profits back to Search, employs up to 70 individuals annually, and by 2025 will have added 1,000 trainees to the work-force.
Invested in the PAC community, and driven by a deep love for travel and the outdoors, Toad&Co also went on to establish Search for Adventure in 2004, a program that facilitates nationwide travel vacations for adults with disabilities, making rewarding and educational outdoor adventures more accessible to this underserved community.
Go Sustainable or Go Nude
Toad&Co is only half joking when it uses this its trademarked catchphrase to show just how serious it is about sustainability. Recognizing that the apparel industry is the fourth largest polluter of air and water on Earth, Toad&Co has pledged its long-term commitment to minimize its own environmental impact and across the entire fashion industry.
Sustainable materials such as recycled and organic fibers are at the forefront of the company’s eco-friendly mission. Toad&Co has already certified its cotton as 100% organic and reuses post-consumer plastic to produce many of its designs. While only 9% of the Earth’s plastic has been recycled so far, Toad&Co saved 25 tons of material from landfills in 2019, and plans to reuse more each year, converting to 100% recycled synthetics by 2025.
Taking into consideration the impact on humans wearing their clothes, Toad&Co has partnered with OEKO-TEX®, a third party organization that goes beyond the standards of existing national legislation to test and certify that fabrics are free from over 100 harmful substances – from pesticides to carcinogenic colorants – that go unseen but can easily be absorbed by our skin.
By 2019, Toad&Co counted 14 garments as OEKO-TEX certified, among which includes its most popular long-sleeve flannel, made from 100% organic cotton – The Flannagan Long Sleeve Shirt. Praised by Business Insider as one of the softest, most comfortable and affordable flannels out there, the fabric also reportedly held up over time, surviving many a brutal machine wash.
Keeping Things Circulating
Toad&Co is not only taking into consideration how their clothes are made, and with what materials. The company also prioritizes educational resources and creative incentives to ensure their customers are equipped with the knowledge and tools to join the Circular Economy, a new approach to clothes ownership that aims to keep old or worn items out of landfills.
Joining the 2020 Circular Fashion Pledge, Toad&Co has partnered with Thredup to offer customers store credit in exchange for trading in items in their closet, no matter what the brand. The company has also founded The Renewal Workshop, a project that will wash, repair, and renew any old Toad clothes you no longer need, and put them back on the market, while keeping them out of the landfill. As the company explains, returning just one clothing item back into the circular economy extends its life by an average of 2.2 years and reduces its carbon, waste, and water footprints by 82%.
Toad&Co not only encourages its clothes to come back, but also its packaging. The company partners with LimeLoop to ship its clothes in lightweight, waterproof, and reusable upcycled shippers made from durable vinyl found in old billboards, providing customers with a return label to ship them back.
Between these holistic sustainable practices, and its core social mission, Toad&Co is closing the loop of a traditionally wasteful, profit-seeking industry, and helping more people feel better about themselves and their clothes along the way.
As Featured In
Business Insider praised Toad&Co’s flannels for their comfort and affordability.
Where to Find
Toad&Co can be found at Retail Partners such as REI, Title Nine and Zappos. Click here to find a store near you.