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Giving Back

Nature has provided us with refuge, rejuvenation and recreation, and especially in these challenging and uncertain times, we feel an urgency to do our part to ensure that our natural world and its inhabitants are safe and protected for future generations. As a mission-driven business, we have created our own water cleanup initiative to remove trash from the ocean beaches, rivers and lakes of our home state of Washington by kayak and on foot, and volunteer our time and talents in support of conservation efforts in the Evergreen State.

CELEBRATION OF THE LIVES OF TOKITAE (Sk' aliCh' elh-tenaut)

and KENNETH BALCOMB

Lime Kiln State Park, San Juan Island/November 12, 2023

 

​This is one event that won't ever leave us, that is embedded in our hearts forever. On Sunday, November 12, we took the ferry up to San Juan Island for the Celebration of life for Tokitae the killer whale and famed whale researcher, Kenneth Balcomb.

Tokitae was captured from her home waters of the Salish Sea in 1970, and removed from her family to spend the next 54 years at the Miami Seaquarium. Over the years there were committed and passionate efforts to bring Toki home to her orca and Lummi Nation families. Finally, permission was granted, but it was too late - Toki passed before she could return home.

Ken Balcomb was a fierce advocate for the orcas and they knew him well. He founded and directed the Center for Whale Research and devoted his life to the study and protection of the whales. Ken sadly passed away at the age of 82 in December, 2022 leaving a massive hole in the hearts of the whale research community.

But that day marked a celebration of life. The ceremony hosted by Howard Garrett, President of Orca Network, and Coast Salish elders, Rosie Cayou James and Bill Bailey, was beautiful and healing, assuring those who gathered that Toki's spirit is swimming free, and that Ken continues to guide the efforts of those who carry on his work.

All the speakers touched our hearts, and Skyler Strandness of Barefoot Eco Outfitters was humbled and honored to be asked, along with three others, to set a salmon offering afloat in Toki's home waters.

There is so much more to tell and so much more to come, but know that our efforts to help protect the Southern Resident killer whales of the Salish Sea, have only just begun. Visit our website to learn more and to stay up to date on our efforts.
 

SOUTHERN RESIDENT KILLER WHALE DOCUMENTARY FILM PROJECT

Proof of concept shoot, October 2023

We are beyond thrilled to announce that a longstanding dream is becoming a reality! If you've followed us for any amount of time, you will know that we are passionate about the plight of the endangered Southern Resident killer whales of the Salish Sea. As lifelong residents of Washington state, our connection to these creatures runs deep, and deeper still for the Coast Salish people for whom these whales are qwe 'lhol mechen (relations below the waves). With only 75 Southern Residents left to roam these waters, we felt compelled to tell their story, not only highlighting the many challenges to their survival (chief among them being scarcity of Chinook salmon, their primary food source), but also to talk about the spiritual connections that exist with these sacred animals and why they mean so much to so many. 

 

This collaboration began with an email we sent to a wildlife conservation photographer named Derek Nielsen, whom we had come to know on Instagram. We respected Derek's character, his work ethic, and his passion for educating and illuminating the challenges faced by endangered wildlife through his amazing photography. Derek was immediately on board, and had recently come to know Joseph Pelegreen, a talented writer/director/filmmaker who he thought would be a perfect addition to the team. Joseph was also capitivated by the story we wanted to tell, and dove into researching the subject with great enthusiasm. Joseph was gripped by the plight of the SR's and reached out to his friend and respected colleague, award winning cinematographer and filmmaker Kalilah Robinson, who by some miracle was available just when we needed her. The dream team was born.

 

After nearly a year of planning and setting up interviews, and the logistics of three weeks of travel to locations vital to telling this story, the proof of concept filming began in October and will conclude in early November. This important footage will serve as an inspiring summary of the story this film aims to tell, and is a powerful compilation of voices who have devoted their lives to the preservation of the Southern Resident orcas. We are hopeful that the support gained from this proof of concept will allow filming to begin in earnest in the spring of 2024. 

 

Join us on this journey, won't you? You can track our progress on our website, and by following @SRKWfilm on Instagram. You can find out more about the team here:

Derek Nielesen, Derek Nielsen Photography: https://www.dereknielsen.com

Joseph Pelegreen: https://voyagedallas.com/interview/meet-joseph-pelegreen-rockwall/

Kalilah Robinson: https://www.kalilahrobinson.com/BIO.html
 

ORCA RECOVERY DAY, OCTOBER 14, 2023 

WHALE SCOUT SALMON HABITAT RESTORATION BOTHELL, WA

We were excited to spend the afternoon with the Whale Scout team and an enthusiastic group of community members committed to protecting salmon habitat by replanting the riparian zone on the Sammamish River. Chinook salmon are the primary diet of our endangered Southern Resident orcas, so protecting and repairing their habitat is critical to their survival, and the survival of the SR's.

Special guests included Dr. Deborah Giles and Eba the Whale Dog- both celebrities in the Southern Resident orca conservation world. If you'd like to learn how you can volunteer and why it matters, visit whalescout.org.To learn more about Giles and her lifelong commitment to orca preservation, head to wildorca.org. And for sure Google Eba the Whale Dog to see videos of this amazing pup in action!

First photo credit: @whalescouts

SALMON CEREMONY FOR TOKITAE

OCTOBER 8, 2023/ANACORTES, WA

The Salish Sea. Home to Tokitae, the last remaining captive killer whale who was taken from her family in 1970 and forced to perform for over 50 years at the Miami Sea Aquarium. Due to committed efforts by the Lummi Nation to free their relation, Sk'aliCh'elh-tenaut (Tokitae), she was finally set to return home to her 97- year old mother, Ocean Sun and her extended L-Pod family in the Salish Sea. Tragically, Tokitae passed away shortly before she could be reunited with her family. Across all those miles, Toki's family knew, and gathered together in her home waters to mourn her passing. Toki's ashes were returned to her Lummi family and scattered in a private ceremony in a sacred location. Toki is home.

In an act to promote healing, Salmon Ceremonies were held at several locations on the Salish Sea to honor Tokitae. We attended the powerful ceremony for Toki on Sunday, October 8th in Anacortes, Washington, with the sun shining bright on her home waters. Coast Salish elders Rosie Cayou and Bill Bailey led the ceremony with drumbeats and insightful words - wisdom gifted only to those who see with more than their eyes, and hear with more than their ears. We were profoundly moved and so grateful for this opportunity for healing.

 

We are proud to say that we are collaborating with an amazing film crew on a documentary to tell the story of the endangered Southern Resident orcas, their cultural impact on the Coast Salish people, and of the tireless work of local conservationists dedicated to protecting these orcas and their primary food source, Chinook salmon. More to come!

Thank you, Rosie, Bill, Cindy, Howard, and the other revered organizers for this special, healing time together, and for sharing your words of education and wisdom.

We respectfully acknowledge the lands we visited are the homelands of indigenous tribes of the Pacific Northwest, some of whom have reserved rights on these lands. Tribes continue to rely on and share in the management of these lands today. Please tread gently and treat these places with respect.

WHALE SCOUTS’ BEAR CREEK SALMON STREAM RESTORATION EVENT/AUGUST 13, 2022

We were happy to join the Whale Scout team on August 13, 2022, to help maintain new plantings along Bear Creek in Redmond, WA! Whale Scout’s mission is to channel people’s interest and passion about whales into on-the-ground salmon habitat restoration projects protecting the primary food source of struggling orcas in Puget Sound. The endangered Southern Resident orca population in the Salish Sea depends on Chinook salmon as it’s primary food source. Clean and healthy rivers are vital to thriving and abundant salmon, so the work of habitat restoration is critical to the survival of our iconic killer whales. Native trees and shrubs protect water quality by shading the stream keeping it cool, providing cover, and stabilizing stream banks from erosion. We are also proud of our work these past two years in removing 600 pounds of trash from the Little Bear Creek Natural area in our effort to keeping this important habitat healthy for the salmon and other wildlife. You can find out more about Whale Scouts and how you can support their important work at whalescout.org.

 ONE HEART WILD EDUCATION SANCTUARY’S GOATS & FLOATS FUNDRAISER, AUGUST 2021

We had a great day at One Heart Wild Education Sanctuary’s Goats & Floats event benefitting all the rescued animals that call this special place home! Not only was the setting beautiful and serene, but the staff were all warm and welcoming, and the new customers we met were so wonderful! We were very happy to support this cause! Whether animals be domestic or wild, we fully support their respectful care and every effort to protect them. You can find out more about their work at: oneheartwild.org

AFRICAN AMERICAN ACADEMY ECOLOGY TEACH-IN AND BEACH CLEANUP/MARCH 27, 2021/EDMONDS MARINA BEACH PARK

We were honored to be a part of African American Academy’s Ecology Teach-In & Beach Clean Up at Edmonds’ Marina Beach Park. The purpose of the day?

“To promote & inspire conservation of our marine environment while raising awareness of environmental disparities worldwide. To learn how simple voluntary environmental stewardship paired with cooperative economic practices can improve ocean chemistry, drive down market prices, combat food scarcity, curb water crisis, and cut crimes of poverty so we can begin building communities rooted in wellness & liberation for all.” This event was spearheaded by powerhouse Jacquelyn Simmons, Co-Director of the African American Academy & Seattle Aquarium volunteer, and Co-Director John Calac, who provided the powerful land acknowledgment.

 

The theme of the day was intersectional environmentalism (an inclusive version of environmentalism that advocates for both the protection of people and the planet. It identifies the ways in which injustices happening to marginalized communities and the earth are interconnected) and included DIY water testing tools, demonstrations and concluded with a beach cleanup!

We believe these issues are at the heart of our ability to collectively survive and thrive, and the ability of our planet and its wildlife to do the same. We are forever connected to each other and to nature, and our ability to work together for the common good will bring healing and unity.

 

We acknowledge the original inhabitants of Edmonds, the Sdohobsh (Snohomish) people, and their successors, the Tulalip Tribes.

FIRST TRASH CLEANUP OF 2021/MIDDLE BEAR CREEK NATURAL AREA/FEBRUARY 2021

If you’ve followed us at all, you might know that we have visited this area on the banks of a local salmon stream on several occasions, and made great progress there last year. It was incredibly heartbreaking to see that the area had reverted to a dump yard. We were determined to get it as clean as possible, and 2 1/2 hours and 300+ pounds later, it looked remarkably better!

IT’S OFFICIAL! OUR WATER CLEANUP INITIATIVE HAS A NAME: SEVENTY-ONE PERCENT

Though we’ve been doing water cleanups for several years now, we realized it was important to finally give that commitment an official name. Seventy-One Percent is a nod to the fact that the earth’s surface is made up of seventy-one percent water, and just to throw another factoid out there, 95.6% of that is oceans. When you think about it that way, how could we possibly let that life-giving force be turned into a garbage dump? The health of our oceans, rivers, lakes and streams is directly related to our own health and survival, and the survival of our wildlife and marine life, so for us, this mission is a no-brainer. You can get your own unisex 100% organic cotton Seventy-One Percent tee and show your love for our oceans and aquatic friends. Another bonus is that this shirt is a conversation starter (we’ve found this out first-hand!), so it’s your chance to talk about why the survival of our planet and all living things depends on clean and thriving waters! You can find our tees here: https://barefooteco.com/product/seventy-one-percent-unisex-organic-cotton-tee-white/, and our latest blog post about Seventy-One Percent here:  https://barefooteco.com/seventy-one-percent-what-it-means-and-why-were-excited/

TRAILHEAD CLEANUP/RATTLESNAKE MOUNTAIN/SEPTEMBER 2020

We did a photo shoot here a couple of weeks ago, and were saddened by how much trash we saw, so we wanted to go back and do our best to clean up around the trailhead. It was a hot and sweaty endeavor, but we’re happy to have removed 78 pounds of trash from this location!

LAKE WASHINGTON KAYAK CLEANUP, BELLEVUE, WA, JULY 2020

Due to the pandemic, we’ve been doing cleanups closer to home, and this is a spot we identified as troublesome in the past. Trash tends to accumulate in the aquatic plants along the shoreline, which also happen to be home to a variety of wildlife, and it breaks our hearts to see the beavers, ducklings, herons, fish and more living in these waters. So we returned (and we will continue to return here) to keep removing as much garbage as possible at this location. The small bits of plastic are disheartening and very tedious and time-consuming to remove, but we see the other end of the spectrum also, like the full-size plastic garbage can we pulled out of the lake and hauled back to shore on the back of our kayak – no easy feat!

BEACH CLEANUP, EDMONDS, WASHINGTON, JUNE 2020

We have cleaned this location before, and are happy to say that there was less food packaging collected this time around, although cigarette butts continue to be a problem. People assume that they biodegrade, but it’s far from the truth – they remain on the beaches leaching toxic chemicals. It’s painstaking work to pick them up, but we are committed to collecting every one we see!

BEAR CREEK CLEANUP REVISITED, REDMOND, WASHINGTON, MAY 2020

We noticed trash accumulating at this location again, so we returned to do another tidying up. the bad news is that there was more trash, but the good news is that there was less than before, and it seems to be bearing out a theory we have that the cleaner an area is kept, the less likely people are to perceive it as a trash dump, or to want to toss garbage there. We shall see!

FACE MASK SEWING PROJECT TO PROVIDE FREE MASKS TO OUR LOCAL COMMUNITY/APRIL 2020

The need for face coverings during the current COVID19 pandemic escalated quickly, and with medical grade masks being needed for health care workers, homemade cloth masks have become an important precaution for the average citizen. We had materials on hand from a previous business venture that we were very excited to give new life to! We researched designs, did lots of research and began sewing face masks for local folks seeking this peace of mind for themselves and their families. We vowed to give the masks away for free and we sewed for 5-days straight until our materials ran out. We were very honored to provide these masks, and were touched and inspired by the wonderful community members we met through this project!

RETURN TO SAMMAMISH RIVER TRAIL – NEW EAGLE’S NEST! EARLY MARCH 2020

We recently discovered that a bald eagle pair have built a nest on the Sammamish River trail in an area we have cleaned before. This area offers a perfect view of the nest and is a popular spot to enjoy the river. Unfortunately, it also tends to accumulate a lot of trash. We removed 50 lbs of trash from this small area today, and we were glad to get to a lot of the trash that would otherwise be hidden when the leaves come back this spring. The bad news? Way more plastic bottles, cups and cans.The good news? Fewer cigarette butts!

WHIDBEY ISLAND BEACH CLEANUP, FEBRUARY 2020

Whidbey Island is a beautiful place, full of history, life and character, and a prime viewing spot for the whales in our Puget Sound waters. We finished off our day of hiking at the beach picking up trash, a juxtaposition of the wonder of the Pacific Northwest, and the impact of humans on these gorgeous natural places. These photos weren’t planned, but they illustrate the heartache of what we do.

BEAR CREEK CLEANUP  REDMOND, WASHINGTON  FEBRUARY 2020

Wow, this was our toughest cleanup to date. We drive past this spot often, and we just couldn’t take it anymore. It’s proximity to Bear Creek (a salmon stream), which is swollen now due to heavy rains, made us feel a sense of urgency to get it cleaned up before all this trash got swept downstream. We removed 13 large bags (226.32 lbs) of garbage from this location, and it looks dramatically better. This was an example of intentional trash and it was very disheartening. Hopefully this will send a message that people are paying attention to this area and dumping garbage here is NOT a good idea!

SQUALICUM BEACH CLEANUP  BELLINGHAM, WASHINGTON  JANUARY 2020

We were excited to organize our first group cleanup at Squalicum Beach in Bellingham, WA and it was a great success! As usual, cigarette butts were a big part of the trash collected, which is problematic as they do not biodegrade and leach many toxic chemicals. Other common trash offenders are styrofoam, plastic wrappers, lids and bottles, and this awesome group of volunteers climbed, dug and braved thorny bushes to get to the garbage that would have likely ended up in the Salish Sea. A day well spent!

FALL/WINTER 2019 SHORELINE CLEANUPS AT LOCAL WATERWAYS

We have made a commitment to regularly venture out to do random trash cleanups at our state’s many waterways. During the spring and summer months, we head out by kayak and in the fall and winter months we walk the shorelines. We like to focus on an area and return to it several times, as we become invested in the health of our lakes, rivers and oceans, and become attached to the wildlife there. Going back to areas we’ve cleaned previously also allows us to gauge trash buildup, identify trends and hopefully brainstorm solutions.

WASHINGTON YOUTH CLIMATE STRIKE, SEPTEMBER 20, 2019, KIRKLAND, WA

We stand behind our youth in supporting the climate strike movement started by Swedish teen Greta Thunberg, and were proud to participate in the multi-generational global climate strike on September 20th in Kirkland, WA. We will continue to support this effort and the push for a Green New Deal as we fight for the survival of our planet.

BAREFOOT ECO OUTFITTERS INDEPENDENT WATER WARRIORS CLEANUP

It’s extremely important to us to be active participants in the protection and preservation of our wild places and waterways. One of the best ways to make an impact is to get hands-on in your own backyard! To that end, we have made it a commitment to regularly visit and clean the lakes, beaches and trails of Washington state, to rid them of trash and debris. We went out again to Lake Washington by kayak on August 14th to revisit an area frequented by wildlife that we have been focusing on, and to cruise the shoreline after the recent Seafair weekend. The bad news is that there was a lot of trash on our way to our focus location; the good news is that the area we have been working hard to clean is still looking good!

We were grateful that the other debris hadn’t yet made its way to the aquatic plants that provide refuge for the ducklings, herons, beaver and other wildlife! We’ll keep you posted on our progress, so check back again soon!

VOLUNTEERING WITH SR3 SEALIFE RESPONSE + REHABILITATION + RESEARCH

We always consider it an honor to volunteer with our donation partner, SR3 Sealife Response + Rehabilitation + Research! On Saturday May 4th, we volunteered at the SR3 booth at the Penn Cove Water Festival on Whidbey Island, to share SR3’s mission. Alongside their core work of responding to injured or imperiled marine life, whale entanglements, and assisting in research, their current efforts are focused on building the region’s first dedicated marine wildlife hospital. You can volunteer too! Head to their website to find out how you can help support their efforts of advancing the health and welfare of marine life in the Pacific Northwest! www.sealifer3.org

EARTH DAY LOCAL LAKE CLEANUP

We ventured out to one of our local beaches on Earth Day 2019 to pick up trash and debris, collecting close to 20 pounds in two hours. Major offenders are consistently cigarette butts, plastic and candy wrappers, straws, lids and plastic bottles. We are committed to doing our part to help keep our waterways clean!

WELCOME THE WHALES BEACH CLEANUP/ LANGLEY, WHIDBEY ISLAND

Barefoot Eco Outfitters was happy to participate in the Welcome the Whales Beach Cleanup with the Orca Network at Langley on Whidbey Island on Sunday, May 21. We enjoyed our visit to the Langley Whale Center and connecting with the great volunteers who work to educate about our iconic orcas!

SR3 SEALIFE RESPONSE + REHAB + RESEARCH DONATION TEE COLLABORATION

We designed this exclusive GOTS certified,100% organic cotton SR3 tee in partnership with SR3 Sealife Response + Rehab + Research, and 100% of the proceeds went to their work promoting the health and welfare of marine wildlife in the Pacific Northwest.

SR3 SEALIFE RESPONSE + REHAB + RESEARCH PARTNERSHIP

Barefoot Eco Outfitters is excited to announce that we have designated a new donation partner for our Mighty Ocean Collection! SR3 is a sealife response, rehabilitation and research organization that seeks to advance the health and welfare of marine life in the Pacific Northwest. They are currently building Washington’s FIRST marine wildlife response/rehab facility in Seattle, WA. In addition to response and rehabilitation, they do important work “Building scientific understanding and training future generations to protect, restore and conserve our region’s unique ecosystems while improving human community health.” When you purchase any apparel from our Mighty Ocean Collection, $2 of your order goes to SR3! Find out how you can support them at sealifer3.org!

SR3 SEALIFE RESPONSE + REHAB + RESEARCH DONATION TEE COLLABORATION

We were happy to join ocean lovers around the world to be a part of International Coastal Cleanup Day 2018. Cleanups are held all over the world, and we were excited to participate at Alki Beach in Seattle. This location was hosted by sealifer3.org, who works to advance the health and welfare of marine life In the Pacific Northwest, and it was heartening to see the many volunteers and groups who showed up! We can no longer deny that our oceans are in peril, and it’s efforts like these that can make a big difference in protecting and preserving our vital waters!

SEATTLE COASTAL CODE CLEANUP

Barefoot Eco Outfitters participated in the Seattle Coastal CODE Cleanup on August 11, 2018 at the Edmonds/Kingston Ferry Terminal. This cleanup was sponsored by the Alaskan Brewing Company, Washington State Ferries and Puget Soundkeeper Alliance and had volunteers picking up trash from the beaches at three different ferry terminals in the greater Seattle area. We are passionate about protecting our Puget Sound waters and will keep working to be part of the solution!

PUGET SOUNDKEEPER ALLIANCE JULY 5TH KAYAK CLEANUP

July 5, 2018 marked the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance annual post-Fourth of July fireworks cleanup on Lake Union and yielded more trash than last year – 553 pounds collected! This effort is vital to help remove the many pounds of debris from fireworks and revelers after the pyrotechnics show at Seattle’s Gasworks Park. Puget Soundkeeper Alliance has many volunteer opportunities and no experience is needed! Free watercraft, as well as a lunch afterward and complementary t-shirt are provided! You can find out more at www.pugetsoundkeeper.org.

PUGET SOUNDKEEPER ALLIANCE SEATTLE SUMMER CLEANUP

What a great and rewarding day out on the water with Puget Soundkeeper Alliance on June 16, 2018 for the first in the series of their Seattle Summer Cleanup 2018! Volunteers went by kayak, canoe or on foot on the shoreline picking up trash and clearing the waterways of debris. Total collected in 2 hours? 656 pounds!

INTERNATIONAL COASTAL CLEANUP DAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2017

As part of our ongoing efforts to volunteer our time to environmental conservation efforts, Barefoot Eco Outfitters acted as Beach Captains on behalf of Puget Soundkeeper Alliance at Manchester State Park on International Coastal Cleanup Day, September 16, 2017. Our duties were to supervise/participate in beach cleanup/cataloging efforts and to get a water sample to be analyzed for the presence of microplastics.

WASHINGTON WILD

Barefoot Eco Outfitters was proud to donate $2.00 of every purchase from our Mighty Mountain Collection to Washington Wild (www.wawild.org) in 2018. Their mission? “Since 1979, Washington Wild has played an invaluable role in permanently protecting nearly three million acres of Wilderness throughout Washington State. We bring people together in the vigorous defense of our remaining wild forests, waters, and wildlife.” Our public lands are under attack like never before. Washington is defined by the unique and natural beauty of our state, from the majestic peaks of Mount Rainier, to the lush temperate rain forest of the Olympic National Park, and the myriad waterways that offer both recreation and inspiration. This is a legacy worth preserving for our children, and our children’s children. There are many ways to help: make a donation, volunteer your time, attend an event, or simply spread the word!

PUGET SOUNDKEEPER ALLIANCE

Barefoot Eco Outfitters is excited to announce that we have designated the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance Marine Debris Program as the recipient of the donation proceeds from our Mighty Ocean Collection for 2018. What does that mean? Well, for every purchase you make from our Mighty Ocean Collection, $2 will go to this program to protect and preserve the waters of Puget Sound. We chose Puget Soundkeeper Alliance because of their tireless ongoing efforts at preserving these rich and important waterways, and because they make it easy for everyday people like us to be a part of the solution. For example, they have weekly kayak patrols that sweep the waters of Lake Union removing debris and identifying potential sources of pollution. No kayak? No problem! They’ll provide the craft and everything you need. They have other awesome programs too and welcome your participation! You can find out more at their website Pugetsoundkeeper.org.

Together we can make a difference!

VOLUNTEER TRAIL MAINTENANCE/WASHINGTON TRAILS ASSOCIATION