REI Announces New Sustainability Standards

REIBit by bit, more and more outdoor manufacturers and retailers are adopting sustainability criteria for their products. While some companies have been leading for years, even the laggards are now starting to get with the program.

But a recent announcement in the USA could have game changing implications for the industry.

As reported in Outside magazine, ‘retail giant REI (has) announced a new set of sustainability standards, which will apply to all 1,000-plus outdoor brands it sells currently, and all the ones it will sell in the future. The standards address a broad range of social and environmental concerns, with minimum requirements and a set of preferred or suggested practices’.

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Making a more sustainable wetsuit

An update from Patagonia about their attempts to make a more sustainable wetsuit:

“Surfers have been relying on neoprene for more than 60 years, but it’s a nonrenewable material with an energy-intensive manufacturing process. In 2008, we started experimenting with renewable natural rubber to help us reduce our reliance on petrochemicals.

Our R&D work with hevea rubber eventually revealed another benefit that was just as important—because the polymer was produced in trees instead of factories, using solar energy instead of generated electricity, up to ~80% less climate-altering CO2 was emitted in the manufacturing process when compared to conventional neoprene.”

They create a rubber suitable for use instead of neoprene by using a process called Yulex emulsion, which removes impurities.

You can find details on the materials, growing and manufacturing process, and where to buy the wetsuits here.

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Recycled down

737x662_m-shirt-2-ccThis is an interesting development from Patagonia – recycled down being used in garments. This is part of their re-collection, which also includes products made from recycled wool and polyester.

Patagonia says:

“The cornerstone of the collection, Patagonia Recycled Down is a mix of 600-fill-power goose and duck down reclaimed from used items that can’t be resold, and offers identical performance benefits to virgin down. By plucking some of our down (and associated fabrics) from the trash, we reduce discards and help to grow and add value to the recycling stream”.

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Environmentally Friendly Ski and Snowboard Waxes

slide_1_1024x1024Finding the most sustainable version of any particular product sometimes takes a lot of asking and digging around. And while we are all aware of the environmental impacts of our gear (and there are many well known brands that are seeking to become more sustainable and ethical), one product that you have possibly not considered is ski wax. Most common ski waxes are made from paraffin waxes which are artificially made from petroleum.

The following comes from Rich Beneduci at Green Ice Wax.

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Three sustainability initiatives

prana-summer-2014If you follow this blog you will know it’s been very quiet of late. I’ve been busy with lots of campaigns plus Mountain Journal and finding it hard to keep up with developments in the outdoor industry.

The following update comes from the US-based Outdoor Industry Alliance and outlines some developments in sustainability from Keen, the well known co-op retailer REI and prAna.

The report says:

KEEN Footwear, prAna and REI, have been focused on collaborating and using the Higg Index and its tools to implement better business practices throughout their supply chains. Their goals are to help the outdoor industry cut down on costs, operate more efficiently and protect our outdoor playground.

The Higg Index “helps companies measure and evaluate social and environmental performance of apparel and footwear products across the supply chain at the brand, product and facility levels”.  Some commentators have expressed concerns about the Index because it is a self-assessment tool.

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Backcountry film festival 2016

film lineupWe now have a date for the Melbourne showing of the Backcountry film festival:

Monday May 2

‘Public Lecture Theatre’ in Old Arts Building

Melbourne University, Carlton.

Map available here.

Suggested donation: $8 conc & students/ $15 waged. Tickets at the door. There will be plenty of room.

All proceeds go to the Friends of the Earth climate campaign against new coal and gas drilling in Victoria.

7 – 9pm. Films start at 7.15pm. There will be a short intermission.

Hosted by Friends of the Earth and Melbourne University Ski Club.

Facebook page for the event here.

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Tom’s Outdoors – Tumut

Anyone who has been involved in small scale retail knows how hard it is to get a new business going. In the realm of outdoor gear, there is the move to online buying and the threat posed by the large chains, who can sell goods at greatly reduced prices, and who have deep pockets for sourcing stock. Being in a small town adds to the challenge of making a new business economically viable.

Tom’s Outdoors is a recent venture, based in Tumut, in the western foothills of the Snowy Mountains.

It was set up by Chris Russell. You can read a review of the shop and find out about some specialty lines it stocks here.

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