The Reciprocal Power of Nature
“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees”
— Henry David Thoreau
That first intake of alpine air fresh out of the tent. The steady glow of sundown behind the mountains. The icy feel of rejuvenation in a glacier fed lake. Feet pacing along the shore of your favourite beach. The primal feeling of cooking round a campfire. The joy in riding a wave, surfboard under foot. Walking a ridge with 360 peak views. The heart pumping uphill hike with overnight bags. The quietness of the forest and the visual lush greens of its biodiversity.
Nature has been capturing our senses since day one. A place we find solace and adventure, a chance to challenge ourselves and refuel. While we’ve gone through a name change, and other transformations, transitioning from a solely surf company called Sitka to an outdoors and media company, called ecologyst, our integral belief in the reciprocal power of nature has remained at the heart of both our lifestyles and business decisions.
It's this appreciation for the benefits nature provides us that drives our passion to do the best that we can during our time on earth, together, as we can for nature in return. We exist to enable people to get out there, to experience what nature offers, to (re)connect and in turn foster a sense of stewardship to keep it thriving for millenia to come. And our little sitka tree emblem is a constant reminder when wearing our ecologyst clothing of our connection to nature and need to conserve it.
“But it is not enough to weep for our lost landscapes; we have to put our hands in the earth to make ourselves whole again. Even a wounded world is feeding us. Even a wounded world holds us, giving us moments of wonder and joy.”
— Braiding Sweetgrass
Nature is not only a place in which we find joy. But a place that is integral to our mental and physical health. While the uncertainties of this year have brought many questions into how society operates, one thing has held strong and true. (And if anything has been reawakened in millions of people that had seemingly forgotten it in the fast pace of modern life) The importance of time spent outside. And the benefits that come from it.
We’re stoked this has been the case — seeing many communities refocusing on nature’s wealth of activities. It’s important that this plethora of (sometimes first time) adventurers adventures in an eco-friendly way. We encourage self-learning about engaging in and preserving our wild places. Connection to park rangers or conservation groups like Pacific Wild, Sea Shepherd, and Raincoast Conservation Foundation excellent places to get you started.
What’s the Need for Sustainable Fashion?
“The fashion industry carries on polluting our atmosphere and water sources. Ancient forests are being cut down to create leather and textiles, animals are regularly mistreated, and landfills are piling up with disused clothes. As consumers, it’s still very difficult to find credible information about the working conditions and environmental impacts behind what we buy.”
— Fashion Revolution
Environmental stewardship was the reason we made some big and at times scary changes to the way we operated over the last few years. Despite seeing large success in expanding overseas. We were confronted by the issues, both social and environmental, that come with overseas production and the conventional fashion industry. So for starters, we returned to producing on home turf in Canada. The ecologyst factory on the same site as our HQ, and a hop step and a jump down the road from our warehouse and store. All in Victoria, on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.
Fashion Revolution has created a global movement of people asking, ”who made my clothes?” We can tell you: Jolene, Anna, Mira, and Darci. A small but mighty team that creates the ecologyst clothing from all-natural materials. In safe working conditions with fair wages in line with BC standards. And we’re committed to getting even more transparent, so keep an eye out for some special announcements on what you’ll be able to find on our website in the coming months. And if you like a good dose of nature and behind-the-scenes direct to your inbox, you’ll find us shortly launching a new newsletter that’s filled with exactly that.
We create with the mindset of “If mother nature made a clothing label…” This means our priority is using all-natural fibres like wool and organic cotton. Solely organic cotton because it uses less pesticides and chemicals that are harmful to workers and ecosystems, as well as less water than conventional cotton. We also experiment with innovative textiles like waxed organic cotton Ventile, and Tencel which is made from sustainably harvested wood pulp. At the eventual end of their life cycle, fibres like these are biodegradable. Unlike petrochemical fibres like nylon and polyester that also leach toxins into your skin.
It also means we keep clothing out of landfills by creating in small runs. Giving us the ability to action feedback from our community faster and tweak designs made to last. In fact, we so thoroughly believe in our gear these days that we offer a Lifetime Guarantee. And for those unavoidable snags and small tears when too much fun is had on an adventure, we’ve got a Repair Program ready to help.
The Real Cost of Clothing
Our supply chain and the way we do business differently reflects the ‘real cost of clothing’. We’ve had people ask why our clothing is more expensive than that found in a conventional high street store like H&M, Walmart or Target. But we have a question in return — how can they afford to have such low prices? As a society, we’ve become conditioned to seeing low cost clothing rooted in fast fashion and plastic-based fibres. But in our eyes this means someone, or something, must be being exploited, whether it’s our environment, natural resources, wildlife, or workers across the globe.
Our vision instead is to prove that planet and profit can co-exist. That we can create a space where ethics and sustainability aren’t compromised within the clothing industry. Supporting the community through fair wages and safe working conditions. And in our case directly contributing to our local business ecosystem when our employees spend their wages in Victoria, BC. Not only not jeopardising the environment, but actively contributing to it in a positive way. Through educating our community, creating a sustainable supply chain, and partnering on conservation projects across our region and beyond.
This appreciation for nature and drive to coexist more sustainably with it is clearly not an idea that is solely ours. A 2013 study on happiness in natural environments finally proved the benefits of time spent in nature in a quantifiable way. A data driven evaluation of the reciprocal power of nature. One in which living a life in close proximity to water actually came out on top to equalling happiness over other natural spaces.
We started some twenty years ago as a surf brand: Sitka. It was the pull of the big blue, cruising and turning over waves that had us immersed in even the coldest of Canadian waters year round. There’s something both exhilarating and settling about time surfing the West Coast. A place we play but also reset, time taken away from city life amongst the trees, living between cabin or car and the shore.
Now, that undeniable benefit to our psyche from time spent in and near the water has been scientifically proven. With numerous ongoing studies delving deeper into the idea. Often fondly referred to as ‘Blue Therapy.’ It’s an idea that sparked our surf film with Matty Young earlier this year. Blue Hour reflects on the soothing, healing experience Matty turns to in surfing. It’s a concept we’ll be happily taking a deep dive into in the coming months; stay tuned to our Field Notes. With some exciting news on the horizon when it comes to ecologyst films too.
Sitka Society for Conservation
All this time amongst nature led us to be evident environmentalists from the early days. A sense of stewardship we’re unable to shake, a dedication to protecting the wild places we take respite and find joy within. One that led to us forming the Sitka Society for Conservation. A program that provides funding and support to initiatives that conserve, protect, and champion the air, water, land, and the wildlife within them. Just some of those that we’ve collaborated with include Pacific Wild, Clayoquot CleanUp, and SeaLegacy, with more on the horizon.
Our collaborative 2020 documentary, The Silver in the Sea, about the last herring fishery in the Salish Sea and its negative impacts on the ecosystem, was the culmination of years of work partnering with Conservancy Hornby Island too. We’re also a part of the 1% for the Planet program. But you’ll discover that with the SSC in mind too, we tend to dedicate closer to 2% of our profits towards protecting our planet.
The Quiet Place
As we mentioned, these strange times have ever increased our appreciation for the reciprocal power of nature. And awareness of the importance of protecting it. In early August, we took a socially distanced adventure on an island in the waters of the Salish Sea. An opportunity to slow down, to feel the texture of new all-natural clothing, to celebrate the fruition of a couple of collaborations, to take a break from the city and press pause. To immerse ourselves once more in our natural surroundings, a place beside the ocean, and capture the hard work put into new pieces coming soon. The Quiet Place; a story we’re looking forward to sharing more of with you soon.
And in the meantime, if you’re looking for an opportunity to get to know us, our beliefs, and how we do business even more, we invite you to join us for our new newsletter. An opportunity to see behind-the-scenes of ecologyst HQ. An additional place to connect with our community, alongside our Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube Channel.