What a weird year.
It's the end of 2020, and while we like to think our recycled circular backpack future is so bright we'll need shades, the year has been DARK. With that in mind, after more than a few virtual cocktail hours, some online meditation classes, and more (terrible) sourdough baking than we care to mention, we've decided that when the wind blows, we should just raise our sail and ride this one out. That's why we are dedicating a little time here to share the moments that kept us going this year.
5. We said goodbye to glue.
Industrial glue is nasty stuff. It's full of not-so-great chemicals and it makes products harder to recycle and use again. We build each backpack out of the best materials we can find, so our "input" materials keep trash out of landfills, incinerators and the oceans, but this year we're proud to say that we've broken up with adhesives in our bags, which is going to make our 2021 goal of being the first completely circular backpack company that much easier. If you have
4. We created the medical device company we never wanted.
In March, the governor of Pennsylvania told us and just about every small business in the commonwealth that we couldn't operate because of COVID. That wasn't going to work for us, so we tried out this new thing somebody on our team mentioned called Zoom (doesn't this feel like a decade ago?), got our video on, and decided to figure out how to make face shields. We got a plastic company to give us 30,000 square feet (a football field's worth!) of plastic that was going to be those little lampshades they put on dogs after surgery, and over 15 miles worth of elastic from a Hanes underwear factory, and without too much more than a couple of sketches from talented friends, became an essential business. We also partnered with designer Kiya Tomlin to manufacture face masks for folks in our community. All told, we've made over 200,000 units of PPE for front line workers in PA, TX, FL, NY, MD, and NJ so far. If we're being honest, it was really freaking hard, but not nearly as hard as what nurses and medical staff are dealing with in 2020. Our Day Owl MVP award goes to them this year.
3. YOU donated almost 3500 units of PPE to our friends at WORK.
That's right, you did this one. Every time a Day Owl customer buys a Day Owl face mask, money from each purchase goes to buying PPE locally for folks that work in and around landfills in Haiti (we don't like shipping stuff when it can be bought nearer to the communities we serve). We call these areas the First Mile, and it's areas like this that the recycled plastic bottles for our backpacks come from. We're going to keep this up for as long as we make face masks, and it's per mask, not per purchase, so if you buy a pack of three masks, three masks get bought for folks in the First Mile. Well done you.
2. Your bags are now made from algae (partly).
This is nerdy and cool (to us). We've switched to Bloom Foam for the padding in our straps and for the laptop compartment. Foam is gnarly stuff and generally made from oil that has to be drilled for. Instead, Bloom takes algae that is polluting waterways and transforms it into a similar material, but with no fossil fuel extraction involved. Not only has the change made the bag a little more comfortable, now your bags are made from 25 recycled plastic bottles...and a couple of ounces of Florida lake algae.
1. The amount of plastic you've helped us save so far stretches halfway around the planet.
This year, we realized that, as a company our partners and our customers have helped us save over 120,000,000 plastic bottles from landfills and the ocean so far. That's almost 6,000,000 lbs of plastic that won't make it's way into the environment. These bottles stretched end-to-end would stretch from New York City to Perth, in Western Australia. At Day Owl, we're taking that supply of bottles and turning into backpacks and other cool stuff for you.
It's our job to make useful, beautiful stuff that's better for the planet. It's your job to get it out into the world and beat the heck out of it, then when you're done, send it back so it can be used again. If you have a story for where you've gone or what you've done with your Day Owl, share it with us in the comments and we'll try and feature it in 2021!
Here's to what's possible together, Ian and the Team