Magical. Otherworldly. Beautiful.
This is how most people describe the Mojave Desert, and for good reason. Despite the heat and severe conditions, the Mojave Desert has been a magnet for dreamers, artists, and explorers for centuries. It’s those magical and otherworldly vibes that inspired our latest color collection.
“We designed the Mojave collection to pay tribute to this diverse, fascinating, and highly fragile environment, but to also further highlight how interconnected everything really is. Our mission to reduce single-use plastics isn’t just about the deadly pollution in our oceans — every stage of plastic production impacts climate and weather patterns, which can damage delicate ecosystems in the desert and beyond,” says Katie Reinman, Brand Director for Stasher.
Getting to Know The Mojave
The Mojave Desert spans over 47,000 square miles across California and Nevada. It’s the driest place in North America, and even if you haven’t been there yourself, you’ve seen it on Instagram: rocky mountain ranges, big blue skies. Not far from the action at Coachella, Stagecoach, and Palm Springs. It’s a photographer’s dream, but the aesthetics and atmosphere have been a draw for creatives of all kinds for decades.
Michael Mora, Director of Outreach and Volunteer Services at Mojave Desert Land Trust, a leading organization helping to preserve the Mojave Desert area, says “It’s the light that shifts depending on the time of day. It’s the cloud cover that texturizes the landscape, the jagged mountains that outline the horizon, and it’s the wind that picks up the particulates and further transforms the light. There’s a sense that you’ve been here before or belong here. It might be primeval, but it touches you. It arouses all your senses.”
Michael came to the desert for a weekend getaway and ended up buying property shortly thereafter. Mora began working with the MDLT in 2016 and has seen marked environmental changes in the short time he’s been with the organization, in conjunction with the recent explosion in tourism, urban development, and climate change that all threaten the delicate ecosystem.
We know what you’re thinking — delicate ecosystem? How can a place this severe, this hot, this barren, be … delicate? But here’s the thing: the desert is full of (healthy) co-dependent relationships because of its severity. Relationships that survive here and nowhere else. Relationships that have evolved over the centuries between flora and pollinator, which can easily be disrupted if thrown out of balance.
Bottom line? The Mojave thrives thanks to a very precise formula born from its extremes.
Take for example the classic Joshua tree, which — fun fact — isn’t a tree at all. It’s a plant, located specifically in the Mojave Desert, pollinated by a specific kind of moth, during a very specific time of year (February and March). If anything disrupts this delicate dance between this couple, both Joshua tree and moth are at risk.
“We’ve seen some unusual weather patterns, including a big storm last October which produced a large amount of rain. The Joshua trees then started to bloom in November, which was concerning.” Madena Asbell, the Director of Plant Conservation Programs with the MDLT, told us how abnormalities in climate can severely impact the ecosystem.
“We wondered, if the trees are blooming now, will they bloom again in the spring when the yucca moths are pollinating? So we spent the next few months worrying and waiting to see if the trees were producing fruit or if they would bloom again in the spring. Thankfully they did bloom again. If they hadn't we might have been in trouble.”
And trouble these days is easier to find. The Mojave ecosystem is so fragile that the area is on the front lines of climate change research, with climate modeling able to predict what might happen to the Joshua tree population as the planet warms up; It’s already so hot and dry that slight shifts and the effects of these shifts can be seen there first.
The bad news? The most extreme climate models indicate that Joshua trees could cease to exist in the next 100 years due to temperature fluctuations and weather patterns which can tip the balance too far leaving the pollinator moth and tree on the path to extinction.
And it’s not just the Joshua tree that’s at risk. “There’s a plant called the King Clone, a bush that’s over 11,000 years old. It’s one of the oldest living organisms on Earth. That’s incredible! The desert is filled with so many things that are mystical and magical but it’s really just science and botany and the truth is these things can disappear if we don’t start to come up with solutions to climate issues and over-development,” Director Mora warns.
It’s this connection to the land and the drive to preserve that keeps the team at the MDLT optimistically focused on the future. Mora’s volunteer work puts him in contact with people of all ages and backgrounds, including youth-focused educational programs that he hopes will inspire future generations to be mindful about their impact on our ecosystem.
“I’m hoping to inspire the same lessons I got from the Cub Scouts when I was younger: go out into nature, away from the city and experience all the native animals and beautiful trees and plants. Those things are impactful for young impressionable minds and if we can tap into that part, especially during those awkward times in adolescence where they’re starting to make their own choices, we can make a big difference for the future.”
While organizations like the Mojave Desert Land Trust are working to preserve land, propose and fight legislation, and educate on how precious our ecosystems are, there’s a lot more work to do. And you can help.
“We consider Leave No Trace basic etiquette for life, not just nature,” Madena says. She’s referring to Leave No Trace Center For Outdoor Ethics, an organization dedicated to educating the public on impacts we make when visiting parks, wild areas, and campgrounds. Leave No Trace’s programs organize based on their 7 Principles, which is a framework all humans should live by when visiting the outdoors. They include:
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Minimize campfire impacts
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of other visitors
“There’s been a huge uptick in visitors to the Joshua Tree National Park, and the park just wasn’t designed for that many people per year, so following the Leave No Trace principles becomes even more important,” Madena continues. “Stay on marked trails because the cryptobiotic crust in the desert is highly sensitive. Don’t pick the flowers because that reduces the amount of seedlings we may see during the following spring, and don’t bring trash or plastic in to begin with. These are all simple things people can do to help keep our environment healthy.”
Michael adds “If you’re in the area, come down to our headquarters and spend a few hours helping to clean seeds in our seed bank, or go out and explore the area to harvest native plant seeds with a team. Drive slow, look around, and take in the culture. If you love it, get involved.”
Speaking Up For the Planet
We’re donating 1% of our Mojave Collection sales directly to the Mojave Desert Land Trust to help preserve the magic of the Mojave Desert. In short, we’re in this for the long run.
From start to finish, we consider the environment to be a stakeholder in our business. We’re a proud member of 1% for the Planet, which is a collection of businesses that are dedicated to making smarter choices on behalf of Mother Earth. Earlier this year, the Mojave Desert Land Trust became an official 1% For the Planet partner and we’re so excited to be working with them to highlight the dangers of plastic-driven climate change and the opportunities to help minimize and reduce impact.
There’s a lot more work to do: and you can help. Head over to our materials page and check out four ways you can give back to our planet and search around your local areas for plastic clean ups, educational programs, or volunteer opportunities to make your own impact.
Because even small steps can add up to big changes.