Being More Than Just A Tourist
What if when you travel, you could not only enrich your own life but also the lives of others?
In hopes to inspire future travelers, Toronto native Micah Teixeira started Beyond the Backpack (BtB), an initiative born of the desire to help provide funds for animal conservation through ethically made apparel.
With his love of travel combined with his passion for animal welfare, Micah has volunteered at various wildlife rescue centers all over the world, however, he was left feeling like he wasn’t making enough of an impact.
It was on a bus ride as he was backpacking his way home from Belize, when he came up with the initial thoughts for Beyond the Backpack. Through his travels and experience, he discovered that the animal nonprofit sector differs from the humanitarian sector in that there is very little, if any funding.
“Time and money are the main ways to make an impact, however my time was limited and I had no money to give, but I was certain it was possible. Small causes lead to big movements, and that was hope enough.”
Micah has been building BtB independently now for 18 months, but that doesn’t go without saying he hasn’t had help along the way. From a cinematographer in Thailand to a graphic designer in Trinidad, both have played a big part in the growth of the brand through the company’s launch video and the logo designs that you see on BtB clothing.
“ I’ve been fortunate enough to have a couple of key friends who I’ve been able to bounce ideas off of, and they’ve given me great advice in getting the company started. And of course my family, they’ve been an amazing support system from the very start.”
With the launch of their Kick-starter campaign last December, over $11,000 was raised in the first month alone, which helped to place the initial order. When building a brand that involved apparel, Micah quickly realized being Eco-friendly and ethical was a lot more expensive. It wasn’t as simple as buying cheap t-shirts, slapping on cool prints and selling them. Everything is co-dependent, so using harmful material such as cotton and cheap labor, just wasn’t an option for BtB.
“The amount of water, pesticides and energy it takes to produce cotton is astounding and horrifying. The labor used to make this extremely cheap clothing takes advantage of poor countries and its people. Every other company which supports animals has not addressed what they’re actually selling, focusing only on the animal saving aspect. I’m extremely proud to say Beyond the Backpack is a full process of doing it right. Environmentally friendly fabrics and material, ethical labor, and donating profits.”
A fabric made from 100% recycled plastic bottles and ocean plastic are used to make the ultra soft and light weight material of BtB clothing. This is all while cleaning the ocean, saving sea life and using less energy and water to do it. They are also made in an ethical factory where workers are treated with respect, and paid properly for their work. Human and animal cruelty free.
Most people think that there is an abundance of wildlife species in the world, but the truth is, their numbers are dwindling. It is imperative action is taken to help protect wildlife from extinction. By doing so, it not only ensures their survival, but also the diversity of the ecosystem, and as a result, it will help improve the ecological health of the earth.
Beyond the Backpack has partnered with 3 animal conservation organizations which in turn have a variety of animal species they support. Currently 50% of the profits from every shirt sale are donated, with the option of what geographical region or animal you choose to support in the fight for real change. Transparent giving.
“Beyond the Backpack. It’s way of living. It’s the hope to inspire others to live well and do as much good as we can. I see a huge amount of potential in a world that is caring more than ever about our planet.”
Turning small causes into big movements, BtB has plans of expanding their apparel line, starting an ethical animal tourism blog and eventually opening an animal rescue and rehabilitation centre.
Much like we choose to associate ourselves with good people, associating ourselves with good companies can be just as important. Beyond the Backpack is a great representation of what it is to be a socially responsible company.
For more information on Beyond the Backpack, visit https://www.gobeyondb.com/