Earth Day 2023 | "Good Design is Environmentally Friendly"
At Distil, we create quality carry goods with purpose and passion. The purpose? To simplify and streamline everyday life by creating products with problem-solving twists. The passion? Believe it or not, for us it goes far beyond eliminating everyday frustrations with design, or crafting enviable spreadsheets (though that is shockingly satisfying). At its heart, Distil is our passion because it gives us purpose.
Our ethos is that "Good design is good for you."
This phrase runs through our brains as a mantra and a reminder. As designers, that means the goal of a Distil product is to make your day a bit better with problem-solving touches that are seamless or smile-inducing (often both). Take our Wally Pull-Tab™ wallets for example: To create a slim profile, we simplified—dare we say distilled—the design of a traditional billfold wallet. With fewer layers of leather for less bulk, you can carry the same number of cards in a wallet that'll fit in your front pocket, relieving stress on your back pocket and on your spine. Meanwhile your cards remain accessible with our signature Wally Pull-Tab™ that has a subtle but satisfying zzzzzzip when you pull it to retrieve your cards. Out here making smart material choices, and designing in ways that use less materials whenever we can.
It also means using eco-conscious materials, and constructing goods with care and skill so they stand the test of time—and of gravity. Our wallets use handsome and long-lasting full-grain leather sourced from a responsible tannery who has annually received the Gold Rating for environmental stewardship (the highest honor from the Leather Working Group). We even partnered with our tannery to create the line of "Rescued" KeyLoop Kits and Wally Junior iPhone wallets in exclusive colors: Each one is made from the same highest quality full-grain leather—but from perfectly good hides that would've otherwise landed in the scrap heap. Nature wastes nothing; let's follow suit. It's just as Dieter Rams' states as his 9th principle for good design:
"Good design is environmentally-friendly. Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimizes physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product." –Dieter Rams
Like beans? Our ultra-durable Gnarlon™ sunglasses are made using bio-based Pebax Rnew (sourced from castor beans which aren't edible #sorrynotsorry). Like losing things? We don't either! So our sunnies have secret MagLock™ magnets in the flex-to-fit temples, so they're harder to drop and break or lose altogether—and thus saved from spending a lifetime in a landfill. Sure we may not sell as many of our magnetic sunnies since they’ll stick around with you through all of your adventures, but it’s well worth it. And anyway, we think our flexible magnetic sunnies would make Dieter pretty pleased—especially the Coopers, which were inspired by his spectacles.
As founders, "Good design is good for you" means designing our company with a commitment to accountability, partnership building and doing better for people and the planet. It's a commitment we take seriously, because we believe that even as a small business, it's our responsibility to make decisions that are mindful of the impact on all of those around us—and to set an example for other businesses of any size! From eco-certified tanneries to plastic-free packaging, read more about the responsibility standards we hold ourselves to in the spirit of being good neighbors with you on planet Earth.
Distil's commitment to 1% for the Planet
For Earth Day 2023, the call to action is Invest in Our Planet. Ah, the perfect theme for sharing our longtime membership with 1% for the Planet! What does being a member mean? Well, that means that every year Distil Union is committed to giving 1% of sales—not just profits (and even if we aren't profitable)—directly to environmental partners working to solve today's most pressing issues. Check out our 1% for the Planet Member Profile to see all of the incredible groups—large and small, locally and globally—who have received donations since 2018. And it's all fueled by you, because it's your Distil purchases that directly support these groups and their efforts!
Through our membership and your purchases, it's been our humble honor to donate to transformational initiatives both locally and around the globe, helping to ensure the world's natural beauty and the wellbeing of all who live here will thrive for generations to come. And every April in the spirit of Earth Day, we share the non-profits who received donations in the past year as part of that membership:
The Planet Impact Fund drives outsized impact with a dual approach to solving global environmental challenges through investments in climate solutions and targeted philanthropic grant-making. Donations propel efforts to combat climate change, advance environmental justice, foster conservation, lead the clean energy transition and more.
Launched in 2022 the Planet Impact Fund is a collaboration among National Philanthropic Trust, 1% for the Planet and CapShift formed as an innovative way "to drive meaningful climate mitigation and support climate change resiliency." Lindsay (yours truly) selected Planet Impact because of its creative approach—and because right now donations are being matched, making our impact go twice as far! The Planet Impact Fund makes environmentally focused investments in areas like clean energy, regenerative agriculture and natural resource conservation. And I love that their grants are able to have both deep and wide impact across causes that are really important to me: defending human rights, helping the marginalized achieve environmental justice, empowering indigenous communities and women in Africa, and supporting the communities and ecosystems most impacted by climate change. Go big or go home, amiright—and by big I mean the planet, and by home I mean the planet!
Our mission is to inspire conservation of the natural world by exhibiting and caring for animals, by excelling in education and research and by providing an exceptional visitor experience. We work to ensure the future protection of threatened and endangered animals and their habitats. Donations to the South Carolina Aquarium support critical hospital operations and the care of sick and injured sea turtles, as well as innovative research that will advance sea turtle rehabilitation and healing techniques that will improve our ability to save more sea turtles.
Visiting the South Carolina Aquarium is a must-do activity whether you live in Charleston or you’re just passing through. Rebecca and her family chose the Aquarium because they love seeing many of their favorite creatures in person and in interactive ways, such as hand feeding the stingrays, petting small sharks, watching veterinarians tend to injured turtles and eating lunch overlooking the Charleston harbor.
Mobile Baykeeper works towards real and measurable improvement in the health of the waters of Coastal Alabama. Mobile Baykeeper helps to protect and revive that rich ecosystem by monitoring water quality, working to remove coal ash upstream, and through educational outreach. We’ll know we are successful when no one has to question whether the fish are safe to eat or the water is safe to swim in, when our seagrasses and oyster reefs recover, and our coastal communities take responsibility for the health of the water.
If you’re into bay breezes and stunning sunsets, then you understand just two of the many reasons why Nate chose to donate this year to Mobile Baykeeper—
“I've been fascinated with the water and fish from an early age. I grew up in Alabama visiting my grandparents in Fairhope on Mobile Bay and ended up going to high school in Mobile. Beginning at age 14, I worked at a local aquarium store, and read everything I could get my hands on related to fish. After taking Dr. Fink's class at ASMS and learning about Distichlis spicata, Juncus roemarianus, Callinectes sapidus, and all the other supporting cast and crew in the bay, I developed a deep appreciation for the ecosystem.”
charity: water is a nonprofit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries. 100% of the money raised is sent to local partners on the ground with years of experience, who build and implement sustainable, community-owned water projects around the world. Every $1 invested in joint water supply and sanitation provides a $4.30 economic return. And they ensure that the water keeps flowing at these projects around the world with flow monitors and maintenance teams in every country.
This organization was selected by Tiffany and Andrew Rizer. Based in Hawaii, the creative power-duo of photographer + social media wizard are the reason the Distil Union instagram looks so enviably stunning. Here’s what Tiffany shared with us about their choice to donate to charity: water—“When we think about sustainability and preserving land and natural resources, it's imperative that we think of the native and indigenous people groups who have long histories and an embedded wisdom for how to care for the lands they live on. When people lack access to clean and safe drinking water and sanitation, they're forced to move or have their daily efforts clouded by the effects of those issues. Which for everyone means sickness and disease and for women and girls especially, it means missed school and hours spent walking miles to a water source to collect water for their families. The world's poorest will bear the biggest burden for climate change, but when we invest in sustainable, forward-thinking solutions for clean water we protect watersheds, nurse aquifers, give time and income back to local farmers and entrepreneurs, and health and education to women and children.”
Pelican Harbor Seabird Station is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of sick, injured or orphaned brown pelicans, seabirds, and other native wildlife; and the preservation and protection of these species through educational and scientific means. The Seabird Station accepts all native birds, mammals, and reptiles. Injured wildlife can be dropped off 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Apparently all Distil team members live in cities by the water—it’s a coincidence, but it’s not a surprise! We're lucky ducks, as the proximity to spontaneous outdoor activities and huge diversity of wildlife keeps us connected with nature. Our partner Josh is no exception as a resident of Miami who jumped at the chance to help his favorite local wildlife rescue team—”Be a champion for Wildlife! Miami is a critical stopover point for over 100 birds migrating along the Atlantic. Miami is also home to many native species. But, these birds face great threats from humans, fishing lines, cats and other perils. Pelican Harbor Seabird Station is a local charity that receives in birds and other native wildlife to provide care, food, rest, and conditioning to be released back into the wild. It takes a lot of volunteers and donations to help preserve and protect our wildlife in Miami, FL. I’m glad to be working with Distil Union, a company that cares about the places, people and nature in which it operates - from encouraging less waste to supporting amazing causes like the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station.”
The Mushroom Initiative is committed to promote the important role of fungi in environmental conservation and sustainable living. We restore degraded soil by putting fungi and microbial community back to the soil ecosystem. We inspire local communities to see environmental health and human health as one by demonstrating regenerative farming and reforestation.
Here’s something we bet you didn’t know: 70% of Hong Kong’s landmass is rural. And here’s something we bet you did know: We all need to eat. Put these two facts together, and you get the Mushroom Initiative! One of our all-time favorite places in the world for so many reasons (don’t get us started!), Hong Kong is where our friends and manufacturing partners are—and this charity was selected by Troy and his family who call Hong Kong home. While it's true that Hong Kong is a buzzing, dense city, it's also home to incredible parks and nature preserves. They love the ability to go from the mountains to the ocean all in the same day if they want to! And to get a restorative if not painful foot massage whenever they want, too (IYKYK).
Sustaining Way brings together diverse individuals and organizations to find and implement sustainable ways to build a thriving community and environment. We use education, collaboration and advocacy to create sustainable, caring and equitable communities for current and future generations.
The group at Sustaining Way have taken a literal hands-on approach to making a difference in their community—it’s a very think-globally-act-locally vision: A world where all neighborhoods, people and nature thrive. Here’s what Sarah from the Gild Group has to share about why she selected them—“I chose something somewhat local and I love the mission of Sustaining Way and their Annie’s House project and Steward Youth program in particular as I’ve seen first hand what opportunity, access and education can do for those in marginalized communities. Something as simple as educating youth about workforce opportunities that aren’t on their radar can open up a world of opportunity and curiosity to change the course of their lives. Equal access to education and opportunity can solve so many of the downstream issues we see in South Carolina!”
Want to be part of the positive change?
Feeling the love and want to be part of positive change? Great! Here are a few ideas—52 to be exact: 52 Ways to Invest in Our Planet straight from the folks at EarthDay.org, who are on a mission to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide:
And because we think about our impact not just as a business but also as consumers, over the years our team has enjoyed taking a deep dive into a few of these topics. Here’s a few we think you might be into:
One last idea: Whenever you're shopping on this website, select Shop Pay at checkout. As part of the Shopify Sustainability Fund, the carbon emissions produced by your delivery are offset automatically. We do so love an easy button—especially when it's beneficial!
And while we're well aware that we're just designing wallets and sunglasses and things, we hope this gives you a glimpse into how behind even the simplest of things can be a complex dance of mindful decision-making with feel-good donations that put the good in "Good design is good for you."
Photos for the non-profits are courtesy of each organization. Dieter Rams photo from Vitsœ by Abisag Tüllmann. "Good design is good for you." images by our intrepid team in Hawaii, Andrew Rizer and Tiffany Rizer.