Kathmandu is one of the best known outdoor brands here in Australia. In terms of stores and volume of sales it is the largest of the Australian/ NZ companies and so recent developments in how it runs its supply chain are quite significant because of potential ‘knock on’ effects into the rest of the outdoor industry here.
In June, Kathmandu became the first brand in the southern hemisphere to receive accreditation from the Fair Labor Association (FLA). The company described it as a ‘huge milestone’ which will ‘ensure our efforts are independently verified and assessed on the basis of fulfilling all of the principles of fair labour and responsible sourcing’ of products.
It’s worth looking at what this means for products made by the company and broader implications for the sector in Australia.
Tscudo is a new outdoor brand based in NSW. They focus on providing sunsmart clothing. Their products are made in Australia and the founder is seeking to build a brand based on sustainable practises. It will be formally launched soon.
Bit 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’.
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.
This 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.
“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”.
Finding 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.
If 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.