The outdoor industry can be just as bad as any other – encouraging high consumption, and fly anywhere lifestyles. And gear – outdoor equipment – is largely as unsustainable and exploitative as any other manufacturing sector, based on out sourcing, sweat shops, long distance movement of items, and both planned obsolescence and conspicuous consumption.

But there are a range of companies that are attempting to become more sustainable and some of them are amongst the most sustainable businesses on the planet. This site aims to explore, acknowledge, and ultimately, support those companies that are trying to be more sustainable and ethical in what they do.

The idea is that for each category of equipment and company, I will assess the work being done in the realms of sustainability and fair working conditions – where I can find that information – and then ‘rate’ the companies.

The theory is that people who are interested in supporting sustainability initiatives can use the website as one more mechanism they may use in choosing an item when they are considering a purchase. Obviously there are a range of factors that influence such a decision – cost, availability, brand allegiance, and so on. But if enough of us do buy the more sustainable and ethical option where we can, that starts to send a message to the companies involved, both in terms of production but also amongst retail stores in their choices about which products they stock.

Your purchasing choices become more powerful when you then email or otherwise contact a company explaining why you chose (or didn’t choose) their particular product. Contact details for most companies will be found in the relevant section of this website.

It has only just been started in early February 2010, and I will add items and information as I find it – both in terms of doing profiles of specific brands and also announcing new and more sustainable items as I hear about them. Please feel free to send your ideas, links and reviews. You can do this by emailing me or posting a comment at the end of the relevant section. If you feel I have been unfair or incorrect in my assessment of a product or company, please get in touch and I will attempt to work it out as soon as possible.

Disclosure: in 2012, Patagonia Australia granted the organisation that I work for some funds for an environmental campaign. Apart from that, I have no personal or financial link with any of the products or companies listed here. If you have such a link with a item you are reviewing, please disclose the connection.

Tali, on a recent outing on Lake St Clair, TAS

A little bit about me

I’m obsessed with mountains. Amongst other things, I am an activist – I work as campaigns co-ordinator with Friends of the Earth in Melbourne, a father, lapsed climber, backcountry walker and would-be telemark skier. I split my time between Melbourne, Castlemaine and Dinner Plain, all in Victoria. I am always up for a chat about activism, mountains, and changing the world! Cam.walker@foe.org.au

You can also check out my bioregional site, my ‘work’ site (Friends of the Earth Melbourne) and Mountain Journal (news and other stuff from the Australian Alps).

Mount Gould from the Ducane Range, Central Tas


12 Responses to About

  1. Dave says:

    Hi Cam – great site. Congratulations.

    I’m just about to start shopping for new ski boots and being a Scarpa T3 owner, maybe, after reading this, I’ll look no further than the new T2.

    I don’t normally apply an environmentally ethical filter when choosing outdoor gear, in part (as you recognise) because I’m too wrapped up in quality, suitability, availability and reliability; but mostly because I just haven’t thought of it!

    Thanks for making me think of it.

    Lapsed activist

  2. Tamara says:

    Hi Cam,

    I’m a permaculture girl obsessed with seashores, frogs, bugs and fungi. I’m in the market for work boots and overalls. Do any of your rated companies deal in these items? I’m about to do a search myself, but your site made me thing to do it.

    Keep up the good work,

  3. Chelsea says:

    Awesome site! Thank you so much for this resource! I’m also curious about how Eddie Bauer, Sierra Designs and Black Diamond rate – do you have much information on them?

  4. Cam Walker says:

    hi Chelsea
    many thanks for the feedback.

    As I am based in Australia I have tended to focus just on brands that retail here, which (as far as I know) knocks out Eddie Bauer. The other 2 brands have been on my list for a while but haven’t got to them as yet, sorry.

    • Chelsea says:

      ah that makes sense about Eddie Bauer! I’m in Canada and didn’t think about that. No worries about the other two. Their websites make it look like they are ethical – and whenever you do have time to get to them, I’ll be glad to read the posts. Thanks again for all the work you’ve put into this site!

  5. Dan Philp says:

    Cam, we’re working on a company to rent outdoor gear online, with delivery by way of US fulfillment services. We face a conflict between saving the resources by re-using gear and the energy used to move the gear about the country. We’d love to get your feedback, as it is essential for us to do more than just ‘greenwash’ our service, http://outfittr.com/.

    As we develop the service, it would also be great to get a mention on your site as a green resource to getting into outdoor recreation for first-timers.

  6. Cam Walker says:

    hi Dan
    the service sounds good (although you can’t check the website without logging in?). Re use must be a better option I would have thought but I suppose it depends on what scale the business is – ie are you just using traditional post services or physically moving gear yourself amongst different clients?

    Happy to post an update on your project – feel free to send some text through: cam.walker@foe.org.au

  7. Ruth Brogan says:

    Hello Cam,
    This is a wonderful site and a great resource. Have you looked at Puma and their claims about recycled clothing?

  8. Cam Walker says:

    Thanks Ruth
    Puma is one of those sports brands that are moving into outdoor gear that I would like to do an assessment of (but haven’t got there yet)

  9. bek005 says:

    Just stumbled on this website. LOVE your work. I’ll make sure I keep an eye on this site.

  10. Michael Cox says:

    I am trying to get information on the sustainability of Mountain Design Gear and wondering if anyone can point me in that direction.

    [a note from Cam
    hi Coxy. I approached the company for info probably about 2 years ago and got back so little that I could not do a profile on them. If you approach them and get something I would be interested to see it. regards, Cam]

  11. Michael Cox says:

    Thanks Cam, yep I contacted them as well and got very little. They highlighted their use of recycled paper bags! Not sure if I will have any joy getting more info but I’ll keep you in the loop.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s