Monthly Archives: August 2009

Jumping on the Bandwagon

Last week I was in Northern Virginia meeting with one of our retail partners, Potomac River Running (PRR).  For all you Atayners in the DC area, stay tuned for the launch of our fall line at PRR in mid-September.  We have some great new features and many new POV graphics for our tops.

Running Is RenewableAfter meeting with Jeanette, their apparel buyer and a running friend of mine, I browsed through the store to see the latest and greatest in running gear.  As I looked around, something immediately caught my eye in the women’s apparel section.  It was a ladies green running top with the statement “running is renewable.”  The quote was accompanied by a recycling symbol on the upper left chest.  After I got through a brief moment of jealousy (why didn’t I think of that graphic), questions started to race through my head.

  • “What company makes it?”
  • “What is the fabric composition?”
  • “How much does it cost?”
  • “Where is it made?”

I immediately scuttled over there to check it out.  I touched the fabric and it had a nice, soft feel.  I could tell it was a cotton/polyester blend.  Not necessarily designed for hard-core runners.  I looked at the content label and saw 50% polyester/50% cotton.  I continued onto the hangtag to see if there was any recycled material to support this bold environmental message.  Nothing.

At this point, I started to get disappointed, mad, and I might even say, a little irate.  In my mind this was clearly another case of greenwashing, the practice of companies disingenuously spinning their products and policies as environmentally friendly.

Since then, I have decided to take a step back.  Maybe I am too close to the situation.  Maybe my standards for a “green” or “sustainable” product are too high.  Maybe I should ask others what they think.  So here it goes.  I have asked myself the following questions over and over again and would love to hear your thoughts.

  • What classifies a product—apparel in particular—as “green” or “sustainable”?  Any percentage of recycled or organic content?  Over 50% recycled or organic content? 100% recycled or organic content?
  • Is a product made in the USA considered sustainable?  I was glad to see the above top was.
  • Should an item that has a recycling symbol on it have recycled content or be recyclable?
  • Do products like this create confusion among consumers?  If you saw this shirt in a store, would you assume it was made from recycled materials?
  • Is this a case of greenwashing?

Of course, I have an opinion and a very strong one.  To quote Marshall McLuhan, “The medium is the message.”  Translation: the material an environmental message is printed on is just as important as the message itself.

I see this as a perfect example of comedian Stephen Colbert’s poke at greenwashers, ”I believe in climate change for a very important reason: so I can market the new Colbert Report Green. It’s just like regular Colbert Report, except we reduce emissions by jumping on the bandwagon.”

As always, I would love to hear what others think– the good, the bad, or the ugly.

Advertisements

Welcome to Our Youngest Fan!

KaidinOn July 24th, we welcomed a new Atayne fan into the world – Kaidin.  While I did not make it down to Massachusetts to immediately greet my new nephew, Atayne was absolutely present.  Understanding the true performance of our gear, my brother-in-law Erik sported his long-sleeve top in the delivery room.  Kaidin joins his big sister Kayley as some of the youngest Atayne fans out there.

Kayley in atayneWhile I do not have my own kids yet, I think a lot about the future of Kayley and now Kaidin.  After spending some quality time with them this past weekend, I have started to think about how time flies by.  Before I know it, Kayley will be going into high school and Kaidin into kindergarten.

As I look ahead to when they will take those big steps, I can’t help but think about where Atayne will be.  Especially: what type of impact will we have created? What changes might we inspire?

The answer to those questions is anybody’s guess.  The only thing I can really do is set goals and work to achieve them.  Five years from now, when Kaidin walks into school for the first time and Kayley opens her first high school locker, I can only hope that Atayne has helped to make the world a better place.  These are the gifts I hope to give to Kayley, Kaidin, and all the other little Atayners out there.

  1. Our trash running initiative has helped to change the social norm that it is OK to walk or run past a stray piece of trash.  [As of today, we have progressed beyond the social acceptance of littering.  Now it is time to take the next step.  Everyone can start by picking up the next piece they walk by.  Who knows, you might inspire someone else to do the same.]
  2. Our commitment to using 100% recycled materials has encouraged companies like Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour to up their commitment to using more recycled material.  [While many of these companies today use recycled fabric, in this case, more is definitely better.  Based upon my napkin math, if Atayne and our competitor friends can sell 10 million tops made of 100% recycled fabric (as opposed to virgin polyester) we can prevent nearly 4 million pounds of waste from going into landfills and save the energy equivalent of removing nearly 6,000 cars from the road.]
  3. Atayne is recognized globally as one of the best places to work.  Acknowledgment from Fortune Small Business, Outside Magazine, etc. would be a great way to substantiate the claim.
  4. We will have set-up our own zero waste cutting & sewing facility in Maine bringing much needed jobs to old mill towns like Lewiston and Biddeford.  And by zero-waste we mean every bit of fabric that enters the facility gets used or recycled.
  5. I will have my own son, daughter, or both, for whom I can make new goals.

These are definitely ambitious goals, and many people may not think they are possible.  But as Dr. Seuss told us, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose.”

If a Tree Falls in the Forest…

JuneFishingTripBack in early June, I went on a fishing and canoe trip with my father and our friend Tommy.  After a few too many Bud Lights and a voyage led by Captain Morgan, we got into a deep conversation on the age-old question, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

This is one of those questions with a very legitimate argument on both sides.  Ultimately, it all depends on how one defines sound.  The answer is yes according to the scientific definition of sound (vibrating air molecules that move in waves).  But it would be no if you take the pragmatic approach (sound is the interpretation of these vibrations).

By the end of our debate, we agreed to disagree.  I stood strong with the pragmatic definition, Tommy the scientific one, and my dad split somewhere down the middle.

You may be wondering why I chose to tell this story.  The answer is because I think it relates to an important issue that we face in our world and especially the United States.  If something is out of sight and out of mind, does that mean it is out of existence?

Anyone who knows me well can probably guess that the something I am referring to is trash.

Image Courtesy of the SOAP Group
Image Courtesy of the SOAP Group

Each American generates on average 4.6 lbs of trash per day.  That is over 1600 lbs per year!  What happens to most of that trash?  We put it out on the curb, a truck picks it up, and it “goes away.”  Out of sight, out of mind.  But here is a little secret; it does not disappear.  We either bury it in a landfill, or burn it in an incinerator. In a landfill, it will degrade into its chemical or biological components, many of which are very toxic.  These toxins will eventually leach into the water stream. Or trash might be incinerated. In that case its harmful chemicals and pollutants would be released directly into the air. Why die a slow death, right?  Check out this story in the NY Times for some more eye opening information.

When you throw something away, it might seem to be out of sight, making it out of mind, but it is far from out of existence.  That battery you threw away will come back to visit, unfortunately, you just won’t see it.

I do not want to be too doom and gloom here, so let’s end on a positive note.  We are making progress.  Although there is still a lot of room for improvement, the recycling and composting rate for municipal solid waste is at its highest level ever of 32.1%.  Plus, people are starting to take things into their own hands to change behavior.  Something as simple as this set-up at the Bay Area Discovery Museum might just create enough of a pause by reminding people that trash gets buried.

If you are looking for a few simple steps you can take, I recommend these.

  1. Buy the right quantity for your household with the least amount of packaging. How about buying that large container of yogurt instead of the single serve containers, and dish it out into a reusable container to take to school or work.
  2. Find new uses for things you typically trash or recycle.  For example, coffee grounds make a fun body scrub 1-2x per week and great food for your plants on other days.
  3. Start composting.  If you do not have space for an outdoor composter or are squeamish about indoor worm composting, search Find a Composter for a facility to drop off your compostable material.
  4. Recycle what you can and if it is available in your area, sign-up for RecycleBank to get rewards for your good behavior.  If it is not available in your area, encourage your municipal leaders to join the program.

It’s Not that Simple of a Question

There is a particular question that I get a lot.  I think people feel it is easy to answer, but it is not.  It may be phrased differently each time, but the essence of the question is, “What do you do on a daily/weeky basis?”

It is not an easy question to answer because I do a lot of different things.  As a result, my typical answer is, “What don’t I do?”  I do not intend to sound arrogant, the reality is I do something different every week, day, and even hour.  From accounting and financial projections to product development and marketing activation, my to do list runs the gamut.  But since people seem to be interested and want more details, I thought I would give people some insight into the last week and a half of my Atayne work life.  This is by no means all inclusive.  It is just a little snapshot to give a bit more detail than the typical non-answer.

Monday – July 27

  • Lead a 6:30am trash run for the greaterthan> conference.
  • Work on 5 year financial projections and sales plan.
  • Finish updating the business plan and executive summary.
  • Start working on an application for the Top Gun Program.
  • Finish Beach to Beacon (B2B) volunteer briefs and send to the 25 volunteers for Saturday’s event.
  • Send out a few tweets.
  • Respond to lots and lots of email.

Tuesday – July 28

  • Lead another 6:30am trash run for the greaterthan> conference.
  • Drive to New Hampshire for a meeting with a potential graphics printer and order fulfillment partner.
  • Drive to Newburyport, MA for the Yankee Homecoming 10-miler.
  • Lead trash run and manage all the recycling for the event.
  • Make late night drive back to Portland.

Wednesday – July 29

  • Get up at 5:45am (very little sleep) to take Becca to the airport.
  • Re-organize event inventory to be ready for the B2B expo.
  • Catch up on email from traveling the day before (this may sound minimal but it takes a couple hours).
  • Send thank you notes to all the Yankee Homecoming race volunteers.
  • Finish Top Gun Program application and submit.
  • Start working on application questions for the Investor’s Circle Fall Conference application.

Thursday – July 30

  • Meet with Bowdoin Bookstore and get a commitment for nearly 1,000 units of our new Trash T (65% recycled cotton/35% recycled polyester) to use for their Sports T program
  • Continue working on the Investor’s Circle application questions.
  • Edit business plan for Investor’s Circle.
  • Start working on a 1-Page Overview on Atayne for Investor’s Circle submission.
  • Head to B2B expo to sell some Atayne product.

Friday – July 31

  • Finish Investor Circle application questions.
  • Cell phone dies, head to Verizon Wireless to activate an extra phone I have (thanks Mike you are good for something!)
  • Miss FedEx delivery of Pre-Production (PP) samples while at Verizon store.
  • Get home, finish and submit Investor’s Circle application.
  • Go to Beach to Beacon expo.
  • Help arrives at the Expo so I can run out to FedEx to pick the PP samples.
  • Back to Beach to Beacon expo.
  • Pack up at expo and head to my car at 8:30pm.  Battery is dead, left the lights on.
  • Find someone to give me a jump.
  • Pack the car while getting mauled by mosquitoes.
  • Prep for the Beach to Beacon trash run the next morning.

Saturday – August 1

  • After about an hour of sleep, wake at 4am to head to Fort William and set up for Beach to Beacon (B2B).
  • Leave Becca at the finish area and head to start line to meet the trash runners.
  • While standing at the finish line, see an older gentleman (70+) sporting an Atayne top.  I take another look and realize it is Leon Gorman, former President/CEO and current Chairman of LL Bean.
  • Run the B2B course with other trash runners, and we pick up 10+ bags of trash (not including trash we helped pick up at the aid stations).
  • Finish cleaning up at the finish line.
  • Head home to shower and unpack.

Sunday – August 2

  • Return trash running gear and Atayne 10×10 tent to storage.
  • Catch up on a lot of neglected emails.
  • Look at PP Samples, take measurements, and prepare feedback to send to the factory.

Monday – August 3

  • First Monday of the month means Accounting day : (
  • Transfer information from all our accounts into Quickbooks.  Code all expenses.
  • Reconcile July banking statement.
  • Work on content label design for the Trash T.

Tuesday – August 4

  • Prepare Purchase Order and send to manufacturer for the Trash Ts.
  • Work on design for the Bowdoin College hangtag.
  • Go to physical therapy appointment for my knee (not work related but it took 3 hours out of the middle of my day).
  • Send thank you notes to all the Beach to Beacon volunteers.
  • Write and submit creative briefs to designer for new content labels and hangtags.

Wednesday – August 5

  • Check and respond to email while doing my physical therapy exercises.
  • Head into office, open computer.  Won’t turn on.  Try to avoid freaking out.
  • Drive to Bath to drop off my computer at Mac-Care (has worked on my computer before and I highly recommend).
  • Head back to Portland and borrow Becca’s personal laptop to get some work done. (She is a life saver in more ways than one!)
  • Back into office, catch up on the morning’s neglected email.
  • Write monthly update for Atayne investors (I call them the Angels of Atayne).
  • Start working on this blog entry.

Thursday – August 6

  • Ask Becca what day today is. Cannot believe it is Thursday. How did I lose a day?
  • Ride bike into office.
  • Get phone call from Mac-Care.  Computer is fixed and looks like I will not lose any data!
  • Continue working on blog entry.
  • Get another call from Mac-Care.  More work required on my computer, but still appears to be fixable.  Can’t pick-up today : (
  • Finish blog entry and post.

In a nutshell, that is what I do.  Some things are fun (trash running) and others rather painful (accounting).  Some great things happen (sell 1,000 units to Bowdoin College) and some not so great things happen (phone dies and computer crashes).  It’s a lot of peaks and valleys and the only thing that is ever certain is uncertainty.

<!–[if !mso]> <! st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } –>

There is a particular question that I get a lot. I think people feel it is easy to answer, but it is not. It may be phrased differently each time, but the essence of the question is, “What do you do on a daily/weeky basis?”

I

It is not an easy question to answer because I do a lot of different things. As a result, my typical answer is, “What don’t I do?” I do not intend to sound arrogant, the reality is I do something different every week, day, and even hour. From accounting and financial projections to product development and marketing activation, my to do list runs the gamut. But since people seem to be interested and want more details, I thought I would give people some insight into the last week and a half of my Atayne work life. This is by no means all inclusive. It is just a little snapshot to give a bit more detail than the typical non-answer.

Monday – July 27

Lead a 6:30am trash run for the greaterthan> conference.

Work on 5 year financial projections and sales plan.

Finish updating the business plan and executive summary.

Start working on an application for the Top Gun Program.

Finish Beach to Beacon volunteer briefs and send to the 25 volunteers for Saturday’s event.

Send out a few tweets.

Respond to lots and lots of email.

Tuesday – July 28

Lead another 6:30am trash run for the greaterthan> conference.

Drive to New Hampshire for a meeting with a potential graphics printer and order fulfillment partner.

Drive to Newburyport, MA for the Yankee Homecoming 10-miler.

Lead trash run and manage all the recycling for the event.

Make late night drive back to Portland.

Wednesday – July 29

Get up at 5:45am (very little sleep) to take Becca to the airport.

Re-organize event inventory to be ready for Beach to Beacon expo.

Catch up on email from traveling the day before (this may sound minimal but it takes a couple hours).

Send thank you notes to all the Yankee Homecoming race volunteers.

Finish Top Gun Program application and submit.

Start working on application questions for the Investor’s Circle Fall Conference application.

Thursday – July 30

Meet with Bowdoin Bookstore and get a commitment for nearly 1,000 units of our new Trash T (65% recycled cotton/35% recycled polyester) to use for their Sports T program (https://store.bowdoin.edu/bookstore/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=6_8&products_id=79&zenid=56dc9cf7bb1e98c68b7599dda659ab95)

Continue working on the Investor’s Circle application questions.

Edit business plan for Investor’s Circle.

Start working on a 1-Page Overview on Atayne for Investor’s Circle submission.

Head to Beach to Beacon expo to sell some Atayne product.

Friday – July 31

Finish Investor Circle application questions.

Cell phone dies, head to Verizon Wireless to activate an extra phone I have (thanks Mike you are good for something!)

Miss FedEx delivery of Pre-Production (PP) samples while at Verizon store.

Get home, finish and submit Investor’s Circle application.

Go to Beach to Beacon expo.

Help arrives at the Expo so I can run out to FedEx to pick the PP samples.

Back to Beach to Beacon expo.

Pack up at expo and head to my car at 8:30pm. Battery is dead, left the lights on.

Find someone to give me a jump.

Pack the car while getting mauled by mosquitoes.

Prep for the Beach to Beacon trash run the next morning.

Saturday – August 1

After about an hour of sleep, wake at 4am to head to Fort William and set up for Beach to Beacon (B2B).

Leave Becca at the finish area and head to start line to meet the trash runners.

While standing at the finish line, see an older gentleman (70+) sporting an Atayne top. I take another look and realize it is Leon Gorman, former President/CEO and current Chairman of LL Bean.

Run the B2B course with other trash runners, and we pick up 10+ bags of trash (not including trash we helped pick up at the aid stations).

Finish cleaning up at the finish line.

Head home to shower and unpack.

Sunday – August 2

Return trash running gear and Atayne 10×10 tent to storage.

Catch up on a lot of neglected emails.

Look at PP Samples, take measurements, and prepare feedback to send to the factory.

Monday – August 3

First Monday of the month means Accounting day : (

Transfer information from all our accounts into Quickbooks. Code all expenses.

Reconcile July banking statement.

Work on content label design for the Trash T.

Tuesday – August 4

Prepare Purchase Order and send to manufacturer for the Trash Ts.

Work on design for the Bowdoin College hangtag.

Go to physical therapy appointment for my knee (not work related but it took 3 hours out of the middle of my day).

Send thank you notes to all the Beach to Beacon volunteers.

Write and submit creative briefs to designer for new content labels and hangtags.

Wednesday – August 5

Check and respond to email while doing my physical therapy exercises.

Head into office, open computer. Won’t turn on. Try to avoid freaking out.

Drive to Bath to drop off at Mac-Care (with a gentleman who has worked on my computer before).

Head back to Portland and borrow Becca’s personal laptop to get some work done. (She is a life saver in more ways than one!)

Back into office, catch up on the morning’s neglected email.

Write monthly update for Atayne investors.

Start working on this blog entry.

Thursday – August 6

Ask Becca what day today is. Cannot believe it is Thursday. How did I lose a day?

Ride bike into office.

Get phone call from Mac-Care. Computer is fixed and looks like I will not lose any data!

Get another call from Mac-Care. More work required on my computer, but still appears to be fixable. Can’t pick-up today : (

Finish blog entry and post.

In a nutshell, that is what I do. Some things are fun (trash running) and others rather painful (accounting). Some great things happen (sell 1,000 units to Bowdoin College) and some not so great things happen (phone dies and computer crashes). It’s a lot of peaks and valleys and the only thing that is ever certain is uncertainty.