Sustainability in the Outdoor Industry



Written by Jennifer Cheung, Snow Apparel Sr. Buyer

The outdoor industry has more reason than any other apparel category to protect the environment - after all, if global warming leads to no snow on the mountains, ski apparel brands aren't exactly going to survive that. So it's definitely in all of our best interests to manufacture apparel in a sustainable way, and there are a lot of different ways to achieve that goal. Here are some of our favorites:

RECYCLED MATERIALS

One of the most impactful ways vendors can work towards sustainability is by using recycled materials.

The North Face uses recycled polyester sourced from water bottles and soda bottles in some of their most popular products, including the iconic Denali jacket and the Glacier ¼ Zip. The Denali jacket alone saves 30 million plastic bottles from landfills every year, and The North Face is always working to use more and more recycled fleece in all their products. 

Shop all The North Face snow apparel
SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS

Polyester (which is made from oil, and is, obviously, unsustainable as a resource) makes up a lot of the high-tech materials used in the outdoor industry. Luckily, many brands have recognized that Mother Nature has been working on this stuff way longer than we have.

Icebreaker's merino wool products are an excellent example of this, with 87% of their fibers coming from renewable, natural sources. Icebreaker also ships their products in water-soluble bags (called Bio-Bags) to prevent ocean plastic waste.

ECO-FRIENDLY MATERIAL TECHNOLOGIES

There are some technologies that Mother Nature still hasn't quite reproduced yet - waterproof membranes are a big one.

Picture Organic has one strong solution in bio-sourcing: man-made, plant-based materials like their Xpore waterproof membrane, that is itself recyclable and made without harmful chemicals like PFCs or solvents. There's a lot of technology behind this but the result is an eco-friendly product that's just as effective as other waterproof materials out there.

REPAIR AND REUSE

Have you heard the term "fast fashion"? It's pretty safe to say that the outdoor industry is the opposite of that.

Outdoor gear is built tough and made to last indefinitely, but some vendors take it a step farther: for example, Patagonia's Worn Wear program takes your used Patagonia gear and repairs it for free. You may have even seen their iconic Worn Wear truck at some of our past Sports Basement events! But they're not the only ones. Most top-quality vendors have warranties that don't get used nearly as much as they ought to - make sure you're getting the most out of your gear and use those warranties!

BLUESIGN APPROVAL

One easy way to identify sustainably made products in the wild is to look for a bluesign® approval tag. That means that the textiles and accessories used in that garment were manufactured with responsible use of resources and the lowest possible impact on people and the environment.

As a bluesign® system partner, Arc'teryx (and several other of our favorite vendors) solely uses bluesign® approved sources at every level of their manufacturing process. 

Shop all sustainable snow apparel
PROTECT OUR WINTERS

More commonly just known by its acronym, “POW” is brought to us by the same Jeremy Jones who founded Jones Snowboards. After developing the brand to help him in his badass backcountry snowboarding endeavors, Jeremy founded POW to protect the ever-depleting snowpack that supports the California watershed and keeps skiers and riders stoked around the world.

In their own words, “We help passionate outdoor people protect the places and lifestyles they love from climate change.”

Shop Jones Snowboards

 

OTHER SUSTAINABILITY INITIATIVES TO LOOK OUT FOR:

B Corporation Certified

Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

Responsible Down Standard Certified

The Responsible Down Standard aims to ensure that down and feathers come from animals that have not been subjected to an unnecessary harm. It is their hope that the standard can be used to reward and influence the down and feather industry to incentivize practices that respect the humane treatment of ducks and geese.

Protect Our Winters Affiliated

Protect Our Winters is a global nonprofit fighting climate change on behalf of the outdoor sports community.

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