Buzzwords like “sustainable,” “eco-friendly” and “green” have all been trending for the last few years, and with good reason. Have you seen recent reports on climate change? You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or avid news-reader to feel the change in weather, from record-breaking temperatures to devastating tropical storms. But we’re not here to bring you down; in fact, we want to do just the opposite. Here’s how you can have fun outdoors while decreasing your carbon footprint, just by buying your gear from eco-friendly outdoor brands.
What makes a brand eco-friendly?
Remember those buzzwords we mentioned? Often a company can skim over what they actually mean by slapping one of those labels onto their products. But eco-friendly outdoor brands have to meet certain criteria, including within their internal and operational efforts.
The first requirement is that they use materials that are sustainable and biodegradable, or natural and organic, and free of toxic chemicals. These are kinder not just for the earth but also for the company’s employees. Being eco-friendly could also mean the company sources materials from local artists and businesses. That boosts the local economy, thus creating a sustainable community.
The next step is making sure eco-friendly outdoor brands are helping, not hindering, the environment. One way is by powering manufacturing plants with sustainable energy sources such as solar power, wind panels or hydro electronics. Other important factors include utilizing responsible shipping methods, practicing fair labor and planning for waste disposal and recycling. Here are four brands doing all of this (and more) while making fashionable, functional clothing and gear for your journey ahead.
This California company is synonymous with outdoor adventure. And their commitment to sustainability runs as deep as the beauty of South America’s Patagonia region. They limit their environmental impact and practicing fair labor; almost anything you buy from them is going to be an ethical and environmentally-conscious choice.
Moreover, they have a used line called Worn Wear that will keep your gear ready to go by repairing what can be fixed and recycling what can’t. They source environmentally-friendly materials and managing their waste. They also pledge 1% of sales or 10% of pre-tax profits (whichever is higher) annually to grassroots environmental groups
Russell Athletic is a long-time player in the active apparel industry. Although mostly associated with sports, their products are perfectly suited for your next big trek through the mountains. And they are committed to conducting their business in the most socially responsible way they can. For example, most apparel brands outsource manufacturing. Russell, however, makes more than 86% of their products in their own locations with their own team members.
The company also has robust renewable energy initiatives. Their plants use biomass energy and hydroelectric technology to reduce emissions while supplying energy to the local communities. Their facilities also use state-of-the-art waste-water treatment technology. And their recycling protocols in North and Central America have ensured that 95% of their total waste is recycled.
Maybe you’ve heard of Colorado-based Big Agnes. The company is known for comfortable and durable sleeping bags, lightweight tents and self-inflating sleeping pads, amongst other backpacking essentials. But the chances of you forgetting them after actually sleeping in one of their products is slim to none.
This company lives and breathes sustainability. (After all, most of their employees grew up and spend all their time in the mountains.) They make their products with responsible manufacturing processes and from recycled fabrics. The newest addition to the brand, the Lost Dog 15, uses FireLine ECO synthetic insulation that is 100% post-consumer recycled polyester. It’s the perfect bag to climb into after a long day of hiking. Sweet dreams!
This footwear brand is taking big strides in sustainable practices that will lead to a healthier and happier planet. For about the past 10 years, they have replaced harmful chemicals in their supply chain with effective and safer alternatives. They also know that using leather and tanning processes is not very environmentally-friendly; they source their leather from tanneries certified by the Leather Working Group to reduce water and energy use.
Plus, KEEN knows all shoes get smelly, so they use natural probiotics for anti-odor properties instead of traditional pesticides. So walk (or hike) on, knowing each step you take is making the world a better place.