Askov Finlayson fights climate change with beer, hats, and well over $1 million

Images courtesy Askov Finlayson. Center: Adam Fetcher

Images courtesy Askov Finlayson. Center: Adam Fetcher

You can’t visit any trendy Twin Cities neighborhood and not see one of the ubiquitous “North” hats atop someone’s head. The hats, which are sold at North Loop’s Askov Finlayson, are cute as hell, and they also make a difference: The store has been donating all proceeds from the hats to organizations that fight climate change.

City Pages took a moment to chat with Adam Fetcher, VP of environmental impact and policy at Askov Finlayson, about the store’s latest pledge to keep the North cold and his top tips for staying stylish and warm during the chilly months.

City Pages: You're donating $1 million on top of the Giving 110% initiative. You were already donating with the North hats, so why did you decide to do more -- and so much more? 

Adam Fetcher: Our previous Keep the North Cold efforts were great... but the program was also somewhat limited. We realized we needed to work to create a net climate benefit with our business and try to do more good than harm. That led us to the Give 110% model, which is based on the idea that we must hold ourselves accountable for the climate cost of our business and then some.

CP: How are you measuring the carbon footprint of your business?

AF: In the coming year, we will conduct our first comprehensive carbon-footprint analysis, from how we source our raw materials, to our product-supply chain, to the daily operations of our company. I’m lucky to have a great network from [my time working for] the Obama administration and my days at Patagonia, so we’ll be consulting with some really smart people.

CP: What are these innovative climate action groups you're donating to? How were they chosen?

AF: We’re supporting the work of the Land Institute and Green Lands Blue Waters, which work together to develop perennial crops, including Kernza, which have an amazing potential to help reverse climate change by fostering healthy soil ecosystems that act as carbon sponges.

We’ve also partnered with our friends at Fair State Brewing Cooperative to make a Keep the North Cold beer, which makes climate action as simple as drinking a beer.

CP: How can we fight climate change at home?

AF: I think it’s a change in mindset that really matters. We can make every action a climate action if we stay positive and look for solutions, rather than get bogged down by all the bad news out there. Buy high-quality products and keep them in use for a lifetime by repairing or reusing your stuff. It’s not only better for the planet, it’s cheaper in the long run, even if the item costs more up front.

CP: Do you have any freezing-cold-weather style tips?

AF: It may sound cheesy, but smile! Get geared up, get outside, and embrace our wonderful winters. Winter is what makes us who we are in the North; the challenge of winter gives us our best values of hard work, creativity, ingenuity, and a love of exploration. Let’s love our cold winters, and work to keep them that way.