The Benefits of Certified Organic Cotton

When your items are scanned at a clothing store, you are voting for local or not, organic or not. Companies make the decision to buy certain products based on customer preference. Individual consumers can make big changes, simply by making informed purchases.

We put a lot of importance into the shape, style and fit of the clothes we buy but we often overlook the process and materials used to make the clothing. Cotton can be one of the most environmentally damaging crops. Of the world’s cropland, 2.4% is planted with cotton but accounts for 24% and 11% of the global sale of insecticides and pesticides.

Organic Cottons crops are not treated with pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and Genetically Modified Organisms, which is better for the environment, wildlife, farmers, workers and consumers.

The Harmful Effects of Pesticides

Source: Huffington Post


Growing non-organic cotton requires huge amounts of water and chemicals. The chemical run off from these crops ends up in our lakes, rivers, oceans and other waterways. It creates a harmful circle of effects as we drink that water, animals that we eat drink it as well as plants. Pesticides have been found in our food, farm animals and even breast milk, which can cause neurodevelopment effects on children.


The chemical residue can also be found on fabrics. This can cause irritation to the skin, rashes and even headaches and dizziness. Less than 1% of all cotton is grown organically. The good news is that we can change this and reduce these harmful effects by purchasing certified organic cottons.

Organic Cotton Vs. Conventional cotton

Source: Study by LCA funded

*Nutrients leaching from soil erosion

**Water withdrawn from groundwater or surface water bodies via irrigation


It’s important to note that not all organic cottons are made the same. At Sitka, we use Global Organic Textile Standard Cottons (GOTS). We chose this particular certification due to its international standards, reliability and credibility. Companies seeking this certification have to meet a number of different requirements for criteria covering “production, processing, manufacturing, packaging, labeling, exportation, importation and distribution of all natural fibre products”.


  • Material must be at least 95% organic, as certified by recognized international or national standards
  • Materials 70% organic can be labeled “made with organic”
  • Materials need to be processed separately from conventionally-grown fiber
  • Inputs like dyes and oils need to be biodegradable and free of harsh chemicals like phthalates, PVC, synthetic sizing agents, and chlorine bleach.
  • They must keep a full record of any chemical inputs to their manufacturing process
  • The waste water from all wet processing units must be treated in a functional waste water treatment plant
  • The fiber cannot come from a genetically modified organism
  • Facilities must maintain minimum fair labor practices from the Internal Labor Organization
  • Fabric and products must meet high standards for residue testing
  • Packaging material must not contain PVC. Paper or cardboard used in packaging material, hang tags, swing tags etc must be recycled or certified according to FSC or PEFC

Choosing the right fabrics is essential to supporting a better environment. Make informed decisions about clothing you are buying by researching the company and fabrics.

Teaming Up To Protect Old-Growth Forests

Watt and volunteers carrying second-growth cedar planks. Photo provided.

Near the increasingly bustling coastal community of Port Renfrew B.C. resides a venerable old-growth forest called Avatar Grove. This October, the Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) completed construction of a Preservation Pathway, or forest boardwalk, to showcase the grove’s biodiverse and expansive majesty. Three summers of the boardwalk’s construction included the help of over 100 volunteers, donations from the general public, and support from local businesses. The Sitka Society for Conservation (SSC) raised around $4000 for the project.

The Ancient Forest Alliance is an organization founded in 2010 that works to protect old-growth forests and encourage sustainable forestry in British Columbia. Sitka teamed up with the AFA through our non-profit organization (SSC) which collects at least one percent of all Sitka sales to be allocated to focused environmental initiatives. Sitka’s donation to the boardwalk was used to purchase materials like locally milled and responsibly selected second-growth cedar.

“It’s inspiring to see how [many] local citizens and businesses care about the environment around us,” says AFA Co-Founder, Campaigner and Photographer TJ Watt, “it’s our natural heritage that makes B.C. so valuable.“

Avatar Grove’s boardwalk was installed above a progressively popular dirt trail in order to minimize impact on the environment. The Preservation Pathway stretches about three feet wide, lifting visitors up off the ground in order to protect the roots of big trees and plants dwelling in floor’s undergrowth. It also increases human safety by offering easier access to the naturally rugged display. Watt says the pathway is “a great educational tool” for people to learn about endangered old-growth forests.

Old-growth forests house some of the largest trees in B.C. and feature intricately diverse wildlife habitats. They grow at low to high production rates, evident in their lush foliage and massive trunk diameters. These forests support climate stability, endangered species, clean water, wild salmon, and Indigenous culture. Old-growth forests also absorb more carbon than younger forests, suggested in a widely cited study published by a science journal in 2014.

“Old-growth forests store two to three times more atmospheric carbon than the second-growth tree plantations they’re being replaced with. The logging industry still wrongly insists that we should be cutting old-growth and planting young trees to absorb carbon more quickly,” says Watt.

“Newly-planted trees are only trying to re-sequester the carbon that was lost when you logged the old-growth. It’s like giving away your million dollar savings on the promise of well paying job. You’re much better off just keeping the money in the bank.”

Satellite images from AFA indicate that 75 percent of productive-old growth forests have already been logged on Vancouver Island, including 90 percent of valley bottoms where the most largest trees grow. “It’s a pretty dire situation,” says Watt.


Before and after satellite images provided by Scott and the AFA.

The B.C. government reports that 18 percent of B.C.’s 25 million hectares of old-growth forests are protected from logging, and that 37 percent of old-growth forests on Vancouver Island crown land are protected. Meanwhile, the AFA states that “the B.C. government’s old-growth statistics are highly misleading, intended to make it seem like a large fraction of old growth still remain and are protected.”

Watt explains factors impacting government statistics include the counting of low-productivity forests, which are classified as old-growth but not commercially valuable as high-productivity forests like Avatar Grove, and the government’s discounting of private land which used to be regulated as crown land.

In the early nineties, multiple interest groups called on the government to protect old-growth forests on Vancouver Island. The government reports that about 12 percent of the island’s land base was protected by the resulting plan that is still in place over 20 years later. The AFA maintains that the 1994 Vancouver Island Land Use Plan only protected about six percent of Vancouver Island’s productive old-growth forests in parks and “did not factor in climate change and. . . did not include any significant ecological science nor First Nations input.”

Part of the AFA’s goal is to invite the B.C. government to revamp protection strategies. The Liberal government is under increasing pressure to amend the “outdated” plan, as reported by the AFA.

TJ Watt stumbled upon Avatar Grove in December 2009 and brought the AFA Executive Director Ken Wu to the area in early 2010. Within the two month window, the area had been surveyed for logging, and Wu and Watt launched a campaign to save Avatar Grove almost instantly. By 2012, 60 hectares of Avatar Grove became an old-growth management area that is protected from logging. Watt says it was “sheer luck” that he’d come across the area in time to save the old-growth forest.

Protecting the area took non-stop campaigning, including sending letters to the government, working with local politicians, and getting thousands of people hiking the trails. The largest contribution to the grove’s protection came from the AFA collaborating with local businesses and the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce. Watt proposed ecotourism as a huge economic driver for the community which traditionally depends on resource extraction.

“Small towns that are historically built on resource extraction to sustain their economies need a way to go into the future,” says Watt, “Port Renfrew has shown that ecotourism, especially around big trees, can be huge.”

“We’re hoping it’s a role model for other communities.”

Volunteers building around in the Lower Grove area. Photo provided.


However, Watt is careful to encourage balance rather than polarity in terms of forest protection. He says that maintaining the forestry industry is also important, but that logging should be sustainably executed. “There’s always a better way,” he says.


For example, the government might encourage foresters to employ selective logging techniques that protect endangered areas, as well as create incentives for local mills and manufacturers to make products from B.C. trees versus “loading them onto trucks, driving through town, and dumping them in the ocean to be sent [overseas] ,” says Watt.


Until then, the AFA continues to offer conservation education and involvement—inviting you to experience an ancient forest in Avatar Grove is just one of the organization’s many projects supporting the overall goal to gain provincial protection of old-growth forests across B.C.


Watt says, “rather than wait until the world is a perfect utopia, we have to celebrate little victories along the way and work within existing frameworks the best we can.”


Volunteers and Watt showing off their carpentry skills. Photo provided.


Due to recent extensive storms, part of the boardwalk has been compromised and the official completion launch is pushed until Spring 2017. The AFA needs you! You can volunteer with or learn more about the Ancient Forest Alliance by visiting:

Surfboard Ding Repairs in Auckland

Got a niggly ding that needs repairing professionally on your surfboard? Drop it off 11c Rupeke Place in Henderson and Hayden will fix it up just like new.

No matter what your board type, shape, or material, we can fix it to the highest level, and bring your favourite stick back to life.

Pop in with your board for an estimate, or give us a call on the phone 09 962 1904

Meet The Sitka Maker Episode One – Rob Pinkney, Blacksmith

Rob Pinkney is Sitka’s blacksmith. He’s based in Te Awamutu, Waikato, and has one of the most beautifully setup traditional forge’s in New Zealand.

With a passion for creating handmade working tools, Rob also has a huge knowledge of New Zealand history and a passion to bring together the history behind the tools, and the steel that makes them.

Our first tool we’ve made together is The New Zealand trade axe, or Patiti. The axe was an incredibly valuable trade item in the 1800’s, most notably when Samuel Marsden used 12 axe heads to purchase 80ha of land in the Bay of Islands. A fair sum of 16 acres of land per head! Around the 1860’s as the Musket and Land wars occured. Traded axe heads had become a popular war weapon for Maori with the handles fashioned out of wood or whale bone with ornate carvings decorating them.

Rob’s axes are a folded style head with a carbon steel insert in the leading edge blade which is firewelded to perfection. Each handle of the Trade Axes are hand carved from locally sourced hardwood timbers creating an absolutely unique finished product that is fit for purpose.

Rob’s forge in Te Awamutu is as traditional as they come, with everything done by hand, and a timing which only experience can create. Fire welding is the pinnacle of any blacksmith’s skill set and something which Rob has manage to perfect over the years.

Cabin Fever is Spreading on Ponsonby Road

It’s been quite some time since Ponsonby Road has had a core surf shop, but that has recently changed, with the arrival of environmentally responsible, Canadian made clothing and surf brand Sitka.


Click image above for photo gallery

Sitka partnered up with The Fit Out Company to transform 125 Ponsonby Road in to an upcycled log cabin where people walk off the street and in to a world of wonderment, filled with responsibly made clothing, environmental education, and of course a hub for surf enthusiasts.

This is New Zealand’s new home for the Canadian originated and made label, crafted from natural fibres including recycled wools, organic cotton, and waxed cotton outerwear. Among their own Sitka label you can also find a myriad of locally made and produced items and brands which are closely aligned with Sitka’s ethos and attention to quality and longevity including The Loyal Workshop, Boards By Blank, NOE Surfboards, Southern Anchor leather goods, and Offcut Caps.

Sitka clothes are made to last, created with the conscious consumer in mind. As a bonus – the brand offers free clothing repairs on all Sitka products nationwide through their flagship and stockists. As a member of 1% For The Planet, the business donates 1% of all sales to local not for profit Sustainable Coastlines.

As well as Sitka’s own brand of surf inspired and hardwearing adventure wear, the Sitka Cabin is also home to New Zealand’s widest range of Patagonia Yulex wetsuits, a world first, plant based alternative to neoprene. The Sitka store also is the flagship for philanthropic footwear and eyewear brand Toms, which has so far donated more than 50 million pairs of shoes as part of its One For One programme, and has restored sight to more than 360,000 people through its eyewear sales. With no compromise on good looks.

Sitka opened its first New Zealand store in 2009, in Newmarket – using almost entirely repurposed shop fittings, including existing joinery, demolition fixtures and rough-milled woods destined for the mulcher. The welcoming new Ponsonby space takes upcycling and repurposing to heart too, with its entire store fit out being reused from previous projects.

Managing Director Andrew Howson thinks Ponsonby Road is the perfect place for the Cabin’s newest incarnation. “Ponsonby is a hub of people from all walks of life but more importantly the level of knowledge people have on their clothing choices is really encouraging. People seem to be really enthused by a company who is hands on from start to finish in the manufacturing of it’s products which is right up our alley.”

Surf, Eat, Repeat: Haida Gwaii Through The Lens Of Arran Jackson

Nature! Photo provided by Arran Jackson.

Arran Jackson and his brother Reid are long time Sitka activists living in tandem with the natural world. They recently spent three weeks riding waves and playing in the forests of Canada’s most remote archipelago: Haida Gwaii. The Jacksons field test Sitka goods, capture surreal analogue and digital footage, ride Sitka boards, and travel around living the Canadian surfer’s dream. These brothers embody Sitka’s essence: they celebrate an authentic appreciation for the wild, and they seek to share its beauty and fortify our connection to the environment. Sitka caught up with Arran Jackson to get the gritty and majestic details of their trip.

Sitka acknowledges Haida Gwaii as traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Haida people. Being unceded means that a treaty between the Crown and Haida was never signed. In 2009, the Council of the Haida Nation successfully moved the B.C. government to change the name from Queen Charlotte Islands to Haida Gwaii as part of a reconciliation agreement to increase acknowledgement of the Haida Nation and its land claim efforts.

Haida Gwaii is located along the Queen Charlotte Fault and is separated from the B.C. mainland by the Hecate Strait. The islands have been situated there for around 20 million years, yet they contain materials dating back 250 million. Jackson says the landscape includes lava formations and a seemingly tropical coastline that is mixed with coniferous trees. He explains that Haida Gwaii is teaming with a variety of natural foods like dungeness crab, fish, mushrooms, mussels and deer; foraging and hunting after surfing all day was not uncommon for the Jackson’s during their visit.

“Art, play and education: Life is an art, play is a must and educating yourself is continuous.”


A clean ride. Photo provided by Arran Jackson.

Sitka: What was the purpose of the trip? Describe a typical day.

Jackson: “Wake up in your bivy sac  [a waterproof sock-like cover for a sleeping bag] under the tarp and try to get your pants on while staying dry. Get the coffee going and look at the ocean. Usually wait till the tide is good or if it’s really raining, just put on your suit and surf basically to keep your clothes dry. Surf, eat, repeat until the tide is wrong and then go look for food. Deer, fish, mushrooms and beer are the staples.” 

Jackson describes notable surf spots including areas along the Hecate Strait, which is exposed to swells this time of year. He describes ideal offshore winds and perfect groomers every day. He also mentions Rose Spit, a mystical low lying peninsula that sticks out toward Alaska that features amazing waves, but is difficult to get to.

Sitka: What makes Haida Gwaii so spectacular?

Jackson: “Everything! But mostly the people. The Haida spirit is strong! Culture is alive and well, for settlers and Haida alike. Like most places, the Islands have a “give respect and get respect” thing going on. As long as you give it, the people return it with amplitude. The surf community is young by today’s standards, meaning people have space and are willing to share. Crowds and assholes haven’t made grumps! It’s not uncommon to meet someone on the beach, have a conversation, and be invited over for a meal! People share everything.”


Humble and happy. Photo provided.

Sitka: What is the general attitude toward environmentalism in Haida Gwaii?

Jackson: “Resource extraction and management has been going on a long time in Haida Gwaii. The landscape has been permanently altered by heavy industrial logging and the introduction of deer. Because of this, the understory has been completely destroyed by the deer who have overpopulated with no predators, which makes for a unique forest. You can walk for miles uninterrupted in what was once impenetrable.”

“Although the land has gone through a dramatic change, it seems the people are not stuck in the past and are optimistic about the future. They take the environment for what it is. The deer are a staple food source. Time moves at a slower pace on the islands, almost a crawling immortal pace. The understanding of acting on behalf of future generations has not been lost like in most of Canada by the rise of the individual agenda, selfishness and ego. I think people are more connected to the environment here because so many people still depend on it for all the essentials. I got the impression that [local] understanding of sustainability is more immediate and deeply rooted.”


Space is big. Photo by Arran Jackson.

Sitka: In what ways do you work to honour Indigenous culture while you were there?

Jackson: “I think one way we can honour Indigenous culture is to be aware that you are a visitor and to acknowledge the traditional territories you visit or live on. This is a very small act, but it all starts with awareness and respect for the people, the land, and the connections between them. Be observant, ask questions and take nothing for granted. These are not our lands and not our culture. I think the best mindset is to think of ourselves as allies. A shit ton of damage has been done throughout Canadian history to culture, but the Indigenous spirit is strong. I was once told that all the necessary components for healing exist within the people.”

“As long as we keep this in mind, we can learn a lot about forming connections to our environment and learning to become present in our current space and time. As awareness of the connection to our space increases, our inherent need to protect the environment increases with it. The more people we can get off the couch and detached from the consumerism and self centred realities and into a connection with the natural world, the healthier our population and environment will be! It’s a symbiotic relationship. Environmental stewardship needs to be passed on to the next generation. I try and educate others and share this understanding.” 

Hiking is to surfing as wetsuit is to skin. Photo provided by Arran Jackson.

Sitka: In what ways did you feel connected to the land while you were there?

Jackson: “In every way! Following weather and tide cycles and playing in the ocean daily as well as eating directly from the land creates a sort of synchronicity. Sleeping outside amplifies that. You learn to find a rhythm.”


If you want to see more Jackson brothers’ adventures, check out the 2013 Sitka film, the Fortune Wild, that they created from another trip to Haida Gwaii. You can watch it on iTunes here:

Sitka Staff’s Favourite Adventure Spots


Tofino and Ucluelet

The beaches between Tofino and Ucluelet are major Vancouver Island surf destinations. There’s around 35km of surf-able coastline surrounding these communities. Some of the most accessible breaks include Chesterman Beach, Wickaninnish Beach, Florencia Bay, Cox Bay, and Long Beach. There are alternative breaks along the South Coast, however half the fun is locating them—yes, that’s a challenge.

Cox Bay, photo by Kimm Blotto


 Mt. Ozzard

When you’re not surfing around Ucluelet, check out this roughly 860m elevation hike up to the local radar tower. The summit overlooks Tofino’s coastline and even the Broken Group Islands on a clear day. It’s a must-see vantage point along the West Coast Trail.

Top of Mt. Ozzard through the lens of Kimm Blotto


Creyke Point, East Sooke Park

The massive massive park offers near surreal views of a chiseled coastline. Welcome avid hikers, beach loungers, and free spirits. For a feature on Instagram, snap a photo at this Creyke Point and tag us ~ @sitka_

Photo of tiny Kevin Blotto, taken by Kimm Blotto


Avatar Grove

This ancient forest near Port Renfrew features expansive biodiversity and is home to the “Gnarliest Tree in Canada,” as named by the Ancient Forest Alliance who worked to protect Avatar Grove from logging in 2012. The AFA along with Sitka’s help, recently built a boardwalk through the grove to encourage preservation of the environment and safety for visitors.

Kimm Blotto photo


Century Sam Lake

When all conditions permit, your experience here in Strathcona Park could include standing inside a massive ice wave. After getting to the trailhead, you’ll conduct a muddy hike aiming right at the fork in the road. The best time to visit is the end of summer since the ice waves are near impossible to get to in winter. Think of this as a teaser.

Taken by Sitka’s number one adventurer, Kimm Blotto


Make sure to check out our “Outdoor Gear Checklist” before heading out!

Why Sitka’s getting behind Sustainable Coastline’s Flagship Education Centre

Sitka’s been a long time supporter of Sustainable Coastlines ever since it’s inception. In fact, Sitka and Sustainable Coastlines began in New Zealand only months apart, and it was a chance meeting between Sitka’s Andy Howson and Sustainable Coastlines Sam Judd that sparked a long term friendship and partnership. Without a shadow of a doubt, this is one charity that delivers on its mission and has a very clear plan to enable the longevity of that mission.

Sustainable Coastlines have taken on a massive project which will enable them to further their reach for their educational services in driving people to cleanup New Zealand’s beaches and coastlines and also rehabilitate our rivers and waterways. Not only have they decided to build a world class education centre in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter, but they’re doing out of waste material, and using the entire project as an educational too in intself, by retraining offenders and prisoners with new building skills, and young upcoming apprentices. When the project is complete it will have been built to the Living Building Challenge standards and will be net zero water and energy rated. An exceptional achievement by any building standards.

An enormous amount of volunteer time, donated money, products and services have gone in to this multi year project, and they’re so close to completion, they’ve launched a KickStarter campaign to crowdfund the final last legs. Now is your time to show them some love, and you can be rest assured your investment will be helping further the Sustainable Coastlines vision and mission for generations to come.

We’re Hiring!


Well hello there Sitka lover! Are you interested in disruptive business and passionate about protecting the environment that we all call home? Then Sitka would love to hear from you!

We are on the hunt for someone who can lead our Auckland store, and make it a place we’re all happy to call home. There’s a number of great challenges and responsibilities on offer, and if you think you’re the one to take us to the next level, please send through an email to [email protected] with the subject AUCKLAND STORE MANAGER with your CV and a bit about yourself so we can start getting excited!

Preferred candidates will have training and experience in either hospitality or retail, be passionate about the outdoors, surfing, wilderness protection, have a great energy for critical performance and a love for people. If you tick these boxes we’d love to chat!

Applications CLOSE Friday March 3.


Store Manager Job Description

The store manager position is for Sitka’s Auckland store at 125 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby in Auckland. It’s a full time gig including weekend work and you’ll be the go to person for the running of the place.

The manager will be looking after staffing, product ordering, event planning, inventory management and the general all round wellbeing of the location.

Store Manager Responsibilities

Staff Management – hiring, training, performance and rostering.

Cash Management

Inventory Management – ensuring stock levels are correct in store at all times. Ensuring stock management between locations and ordering is up to date.

Sales – Sales growth for the location.

IT Knowledge – Preferred understanding of Shopify, Vend, Sitchlabs and Xero – but not essential.

Events – Instore event planning and running.

Product Knowledge – Will be taught and must be extensive to the lines of product available.

Co-ordinating with online sales

Custom New Zealand Made Surfboards

We are proud of the people that make our Sitka products. All of the craftsmen and craftswomen share our values for looking after our planet and have a keen understanding of what it means to create long lasting products that are fit for purpose and stand the test of time. In our second instalment of the Sitka Makers Series, we would like to introduce you to Hayden Chamberlain, the maker of our Sitka Surfboards.

Sitka Makers Series – Hayden Chamberlain – Shaper from Sitka on Vimeo.

With having such a skilled surfboard shaper on our team, we can produce custom surfboards for any level of surfer riding in any conditions, all made right here in Auckland, New Zealand. We only use the highest quality components and materials, and when these are combined with the knowledge of Hayden Chamberlain, only a quality product can be created.