You’re there for that feeling you get when you sink a long putt or catch a long iron on the sweet spot. For the sense of competition. For the exercise. For the time with friends and family. But at some point during your time on the golf course you’re going to notice the course itself. You’re there too for the quiet and the sun and the scampering wildlife. For the birds as much as for the birdies.
Jason Yip has always been hyper aware of that part of the game, and when he founded State Apparel, he wanted to mirror other companies that give back to the resources that sustain their businesses. “Without the land,” said Yip, “we’d have nowhere to play, so we need to take care of it for ourselves and for the future.”
Local, Sustainable, Charitable
State Apparel’s San Francisco offices are not in the Mission District, but they are nonetheless infused with a mission: social responsibility. To that end, the company produces much of its clothing locally and often by hand with an eye toward sustainability. Yip is also on the board of the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance, a group that has spent seven years fighting to save Harding Park, Sharp Park, and the endangered red-legged frog that lives therein. State Apparel has donated products and prizes to golf tournaments to benefit the courses, and the company’s store in downtown San Francisco sells a variety of Parks-specific merchandise, with 100 percent of gross sales revenue from those items going directly to the Alliance.
All three of those characteristics – local, sustainable and charitable – come together in the company’s Green Collar shirt, a take-off on “blue collar” and “white collar” designations with a nod to “the people who take care of our land,” as Yip puts it. These shirts are made from polyester and spandex recycled from discarded performance gear. “In my opinion the fabric, because it’s been worn in, actually feels softer and more comfortable than it originally had,” said Yip. Although he also points out that the motivation arises “because it’s the right thing to do and to make a statement to golfers and the community at large.”
And State Apparel supports the green collar with greenbacks: 15 percent of proceeds from the sale of the shirts goes to Audubon International’s Cooperative Sanctuary Program, which certifies courses and resorts that meet six criteria for sustainability. In all, Audubon has three golf sustainability programs that apply to about 2,000 member organizations, more than 900 of which have ACSP certification. “We keep the annual membership fee for the ACSP as low as possible ($300 in the U.S.) so that it's affordable for all courses to participate,” said Audubon CEO Christine Kane. “Unfortunately, this low fee doesn't cover all of our costs to provide the educational materials, technical assistance, certification reviews, etc. for the program. Sponsorships and donations, like this support from State Apparel, helps us close that gap.”
The Green Collar shirts, says Kane, are a “good way for individual golfers to help out.” She continued: “I hope more and more people see the shirts and say, ‘Look at all the great things golf is doing for the environment.”
Nothing would make Jason Yip happier.