An Education In Preservation
Preservation through education and inspiration, that is our mission here at Tahoe Timber.
To help shape a world that will be able to flourish into the next generation and beyond. To accomplish that goal, education will be necessary. An education in sustainably harvested, reclaimed and renewable materials. An education in the rejuvenation of our natural resources. It is through this education, that we here at Tahoe Timber, believe that inspiration will blossom. And in this inspiration, the path to preservation will have been started. Former U.S. president, and conservationist, Theodore Roosevelt may have put it best.
"There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of the giant sequoias and redwoods, the Canyon of the Colorado, the Canyon of the Yellowstone, the Three Tetons; and our people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children's children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred," - President Theodore Roosevelt
We here at Tahoe Timber are of the belief that preservation is more than just the protection of our natural resources. It is also the process of using raw materials in a renewable way, making them available for future generations. Some of the ways that we address this concern is through the use of bamboo, beetle damaged ponderosa pine and sustainably sourced hardwoods.
In particular, the timber we use for our pocket knives comes from the Tahoe Basin. Specifically, we use beetle kill pine and downed timber that has been sustainably harvested. The timber is gathered and then milled at Martis Camp near Truckee, CA. The need to reuse this resource gave us the inspiration to begin using it in items that you wouldn’t normally think of. Those include but are not limited to, our sunglasses, watches, hats, wallets, pocket knives, necklaces, and bottle openers.
Bamboo Sunglasses - The Driftwood Collection
The Driftwood collection carries a unique feature not found in other glasses produced by us, the ability to float on water. Part of our Driftwood line includes the Spooner. The Spooner frame is derived from an aviator style and is quickly identifiable by the large gap in the frame over the bridge.
How many times have you gone in the Truckee River or Lake Tahoe and lost your glasses? Probably countless if you're anything like me. Thanks to the Driftwood line this worry may be a thing of the past. They're able to work as intended by being constructed from a base of bamboo. Contrary to what most believe, bamboo is not a type of wood, it’s grass. In addition, it’s one of the fastest-growing plants on earth, making its harvest a quick and renewable resource for farmers of the crop. The Driftwood line is just one example of how Tahoe Timber is using a renewable resource in the preservation fight. The Driftwood collection helps to shift away from plastic frames to alternative frames.
We have a Local Focus that has a global impact
Because we are a Reno-based business, we take pride in 'Keeping Tahoe Blue' and keeping the Truckee River clean. But because of the number of plastics used in our modern society, this challenge is getting ever more difficult. From the normal types of pollution that you would typically think of, like trash, to more modern concerns such as microplastics. Microplastics are growing concern and between groups like the Desert Research Institute and the University of California, Davis, more information will soon be made available. It's an area of recycling and conservation, that is still growing and trying to find it's footing. Due to the medium of our products at Tahoe Timber, we believe that we're beginning to take the first steps along with these groups in avoiding microplastics.
What are microplastics?
Well, the DRI defines them like this, "microplastics are plastic pieces ranging in size from 5mm to microscopic particles, in other words, the size of a pencil’s eraser or smaller. They come from a variety of sources, including the breakdown of larger products like single-use plastic bottles,".
So far, research into them has pointed towards the main source of where they're coming from, our washing machines. The washing process rubs them off our clothes during the cycle. Research has also shown that they stem from trash being rubbed down over time in bodies of water. Over the 2017-18 fiscal year, 567 cubic yards of garbage was picked from Lake Tahoe by the Clean Tahoe Program. A large amount of that trash was plastic, details are yet unknown how that may have affected the water quality of the Truckee and Lake Tahoe.
How can we help?
As citizens of the world, we rely too heavily on plastics. Nowhere is that more apparent, that in our own country. In the U.S. the plastic eyewear frame industry grosses $6,344 million per year. Based on the current growth of the market, it is estimated that 46.11 million pairs of plastic frames will be sold this year in the states.
For comparison, the next largest consumer of plastic frames in the world is China. China on average spends $1,889 million per year on them. With a population of 1.34 billion people, versus the U.S. at 311.1 million, Americans spend on average close to three times as more than their Chinese counterparts, but with only a quarter of the population.
How are Plastic Shades an issue?
Plastic frames can range in weight. Larger frames can weigh anywhere from 30-34 grams, whereas a lighter frame can weigh around 20. There are outliers to this, but lightweight frames are not the industry or consumer standard. To stick to a constant, and a baseline, we will say the average pair weighs 20 grams. Now, factoring in the 46.11 million pairs that are projected to be sold in 2019, that equals out to 922,200,000 grams of plastic used to produce frames in the U.S or 2,033,102 lbs. That’s the equivalent of more than 30 humpback whales, who average around 66,000 lbs.
Plastic is by no means, a renewable resource. On average, it takes 450 years for a plastic water bottle to biodegrade in nature. Depending on the density of the bottle, that process can expand to up to 1,000 years. The amount of plastic in a common water bottle is leaps and bounds lower than the contents of a pair of eyewear. Projecting how long a pair of plastic frames takes to biodegrade is currently beyond my scientific knowledge, but it’s safe to say that it takes longer than a plastic water bottle.
Even the simple change to using wood-based frames is a huge step in the right direction. Changing to alternative frames means more than just reducing the number of plastics we use in the world. It means helping to curb the byproducts that are released into the air via the plastic production process. Every step we can take to help curb emissions is a step towards securing the next generation's future.
Earlier we addressed one of the ways that Tahoe Timber is aiding in the fight to curb over-reliance on plastics, that being our Driftwood line. However, we also mentioned our Backwoods collection, which showcases sustainably sourced hardwood.
The Backwoods Collection - Premium Hardwood Sunglasses
Two of the pairs that showcase the incredible craftsmanship that goes into each and every pair of our glasses are the Skylands and Sierras. Both of these frames fall under our Hardwood built line. The Sierras come in one of two beautiful wood types, Rosewood or Ebony. Because of the nature of the medium that is wood, no two pairs of glasses will ever be exactly the same. The grain between any given pair creates a unique look for each one that comes through our doors.
As with the Sierras, the Skylands are built with premium hardwood using a layered construction method. In total, the Skylands posses 10 layers of material to provide durability yet are surprisingly lightweight. These large frames are accented with inlays over the bridge and arms to provide a pop of color. These sophisticated frames come in two build styles, Teak with Walnut or Walnut with Ebony. Either way, these sharp glasses are a standout piece wherever they go.
Craftsmanship with a Cause
These are just a few ways that Tahoe Timber is advocating for the use of sustainably harvested, reclaimed and reusable resources. We hope that our advocacy for the cause of preservation will inspire you to reach out and support great local organizations near the Tahoe Basin including Sierra Nevada Journeys and the Tahoe National Forest Service. We implore you to continue this effort, as it can not be done alone. It will take all of us.