About the company

As the name suggests, GoLite focusses on creating light weight equipment. They make a range of men’s and women’s clothing, packs, sleeping gear, foot wear and other equipment. The company headquarters are in Boulder, Colorado.

My summary

Only having recently discovered this brand, I must say I am quite impressed. They have moved far beyond just making gear – as they note in their introduction to themselves, “our design directive is to create beautiful, simple, high-performance clothing and gear that helps you better enjoy your everyday trail experiences and is ‘light on the planet’”.  While retoric is standard fare in any companies sales pitch, there is a great deal of though going into reducing impact and ensuring good and fair working conditions.

Working conditions in their production facilities are externally verified, they have a ‘take back’ program for worn out equipment, and are seeking to use recycled and low impact materials where ever they can.

As far as I know, they are only available to Australians via one of the on-line services rather than being in outdoor stores.


Leader (***)

Sustainability criteria:

  • reporting framework: how does the company benchmark what it does/ reports? Does it use one of the international accredited systems

The company fulfils the A+ standards set by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), one of the world’s best known frameworks for corporate responsibility reporting.

Their 2009 Sustainability Report (issued in January 2010) is a comprehensive look at the company’s footprint and focuses both on the company’s environmental practices and impact including product responsibility, waste minimisation, and climate impact, as well as its social impacts including labor policies, global human rights and community involvement.

  • information on resources used – recycled materials, use of renewable materials, and energy consumption & carbon dioxide emissions

From the company:

Corporate responsibility has been part of GoLite’s ethos since our founding in 1998, and we are committed to building a sustainable business. We are following a multi-year, metrics-based path to sustainability, striving to eliminate or mitigate 100% of our environmental footprint and be a model company in how we treat our people and community. Our long-term objective is to aim past neutrality towards becoming “net positive” to environment and civilisation across our entire value chain. We don’t have a “green collection:” we are striving to address all of our products and all of our operations.

As we do this, we are maintaining or increasing our stringent end-use and testing requirements so that as we move forward, we are actually improving product quality and technical performance, not sacrificing them.

Sustainability is imbedded in every aspect of how we operate through an integrated set of guidelines, policies, and corporate and individual goals, all bound together by our mission, vision, and values. Our definition of sustainability includes respect for everyone involved in our supply chain from fabric mill employee to you our valued customer or partner; it includes strong financial performance; and minimising and offsetting the inevitable environmental impacts of producing products.

We are striving to be a real part of the solution to the challenges facing our planet. We are making significant changes in how we do business, because we want to reach a truly sustainable business model as fast as possible while continuing to make premium, high-performance products that serve the needs of outdoor athletes”.

If you’re interested in sustainability issues, their sustainability report is definitely worth a read.

After conducting a full assessment of our operations, we know that more than 60% of our overall environmental impact is embedded in the materials in our products. While GoLite products are by nature “greener” (lighter products = less materials = less carbon, less toxics, less waste), we are working hard to reduce the environmental impact of the products we make. Part of this work has included a major shift towards the use of Environmentally Preferred Materials (EPMs) in our products. In the 2010 product line, over 67% of the mass of the materials in our products are made of EPMs. Our goal is 100% EPMs by 2015.

As part of this effort, GoLite has replaced virgin, petro-chemical based materials in all of our main pack fabrics and travel luggage with 50% Tier 1 recycled nylon, and in all of our sleeping bag collections and some apparel with 100% Tier 1 recycled polyester. The impact reduction for recycled textiles varies, but it has shown to have up to 70% (for nylon) and up to 80% (for polyester) reduction in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions while performing on-par with their conventional alternatives.

The GoLite Index™

The GoLite Index™ is a tool created by the company to help drive their products to the most sustainable versions that can be produced. It is a product-level scorecard that addresses every product’s key social and environmental impacts. The company says “we see it as a starting point and our honest effort at product-level transparency. To learn more, we encourage you to review individual product scores on their specific web pages or learn more.” Each product is rated along three dimensions on a 0 to 5 scale.

  • Environmentally Preferred Materials
  • Responsible Production
  • Education + End-of-Life Programs

We are dedicated to reducing our climate impact. Although we are growing as a company, our short-term goal is to reduce our actual greenhouse gas emissions by 30% from 2008 to 2010through targeted reduction strategies such as reducing the footprint of the materials in our products, minimising long-haul flights, and selecting the most efficient shipping methods available. Today, 100% of our energy, business travel, and transportation of finished goods from factory through consumer are offset with NativeEnergy credits that invest in new renewable energy infrastructure in the USA, Canada and China. GoLite has been “carbon neutral” including offsets to these impacts since 2007, and in 2010 we will also offset our share of all of our partner factory and mill operations, resulting in true 100% carbon neutrality for all GoLite operations and products”.

  • waste generated

Product Take-Back Program

Although this is not relevant to consumers in Australia, the ‘take back’ program developed by the company is a way to reduce old gear going into the waste stream.

In early 2010, we launched our “I’m Not Trash” Product Take-Back Program, the first of its kind in the outdoor industry. The program aims to enable consumers to avoid ever sending their used or unwanted GoLite products to a landfill when there are so many positive options for giving their products a second life. By visiting http://www.golite.com, customers can learn more about how to repair or repurpose their GoLite product locally, but if they decide to send it back to GoLite, the company will repair, donate, repurpose, recycle, and/or store for future recycling everything we get back, lock, stock and zipper pull, regardless of its condition”. (This does not include GoLite footwear, which is made by a separate company.)

The company is committed to establishing a “Zero Waste” headquarters (over 93% of our waste is currently recycled or composted through Eco-Cycle). There is no specific mention about waste management practises in actual production facilities.

  • working conditions

In its materials, GoLite says that it is committed to responsible production and fair labor.

As global brand and corporate citizen, we work in partnership with our factories to ensure that our products produced in workplaces that are fair, safe, and non-discriminatory. We annually audit 100% of our production facilities according to strict social and environmental guidelines”.

GoLite has adopted The Timberland Company®’s Code of Conduct. This is a Human Rights Standards program for doing good worldwide which takes the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions as its foundation. The Code of Conduct requires all employment to be voluntary, prohibits child labor and sets standards for freedom of association, labor hours, compensation, workplace conditions and health and safety. The Code has been translated into over 20 languages and is provided to factories in their local language. Through our internal Vendor Partnership Agreement and our third-party use of Timberland’s Code of Conduct, our annual assessments monitor our factories to ensure our products are made in workplaces that are fair, safe and nondiscriminatory”.

For further details, check here.

Click here to learn more or check out our 2009 Sustainability Report.

  • other environmental claims or benefits

From the company:

• We donate hundreds of volunteer service hours in our community every year (while employees are on the clock)
• We have established long-term support of a range of environmental and educational non-profits
• We have staff benefits that reward community service
• We grant full-time employees with one year of service a paid week per year to volunteer for an environmental non-profit
• We pay our employees to use alternative transportation methods
• We support the Conservation Alliance, the American Hiking Society, and many other conservation and outdoor recreation-oriented non-profits

  • details on who stocks the item/ where to find it/ where to get further information

You need to purchase Go Lite via an on line dealer.


1 Response to GoLite

  1. Richard says:

    I have been traveling for years with my GoLite travel bag which I love but still can not find a replacement. I went to your site to view your current product lines and this is the response. GoLite About GoAid GoResponsibly Press
    Search”Close (esc)”
    404 Page Not Found
    The page you were looking for does not exist.
    Continue shopping
    I would love to replace and view your other offerings. I am currently out of the country but where can I purchase and view your products? Thanks and the very best in your new business venture.

    [thanks for the note Richard. This is a site that looks into sustainable gear but not a retailer, so you will need to contact GoLite directly. regards, Cam]

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