Recycled, renewable, repairable, b-corp & more

The gear you buy determines how the outdoor industry will evolve.

What does sustainability really mean? The word "sustainable" isn't a regulated term; there's no strict definition. So it can be difficult to suss out which "sustainable" products are truly Earth-friendly and which are just talking the talk. We're here to help define the more impactful sustainable practices and highlight some of our favorite brands that are going above and beyond to protect the Earth we all cherish so much.


Sunski sunglasses are one our favorite local brands, and one that we look up to for their sustainability practices. Notably, all of their sunglasses are created using their special SuperLight recycled plastic. I like to envision them sneaking around landfills, batting would-be-trashed materials into a cart and running off into the sunset. They then take their no-new plastic approach a step further: there is no plastic in their packaging, plus they use cool origami folding techniques to create their boxes.

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Using materials made from recycled plastics is great, but you could argue that the next step up would be avoiding using plastics at all - that's where brands like Icebreaker come in. They're known for their baselayers and other apparel made from merino wool: a completely natural and renewable resource that is extremely effective at wicking sweat and maintaining warmth. After all, it works great for sheep (and no, shearing wool from sheep doesn't hurt them in the slightest)!

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A less flashy but highly impactful way to support the planet is to create gear that doesn't need to be replaced - ever. Patagonia reigns supreme in that regard: their whole goal is to create long lasting gear and apparel that won’t fall apart. But if it does, you can turn it in via their Ironclad Guarantee program, and get it fixed up through their roving Worn Wear vehicles which offer free repairs. Patagonia is pretty much the gold standard for sustainable business practices in the outdoor industry: they’re a 1% for the Planet company, they're B Corp and Fair Trade certified, and they utilize organic cotton and recycled materials whenever possible.

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Biodegradable / Reef Safe FT. SALT & STONE

You might have heard that many sunscreens on the market are damaging to coral reefs. This is a double bummer because many people only really use sunscreen for long days at the beach (although your doctor told us to tell you to wear sunscreen every day). Harmful chemicals wash off our bodies and into the waterways, and, as we learned in Finding Nemo, all water leads to the ocean.

Biodegradable and mineral-based sunscreens are leading the charge to change this pattern while providing top notch protection from the sun. Salt & Stone is one of our favorite new brands with a variety of mineral based sunscreens. Hooray for zinc!

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You might be noticing a steady rise in the number of brands touting their B Corp certified status. Yay! But what exactly does this mean? Brands like Cotopaxi embody sustainability through their entire product lifecycle, and exemplify what it means to be B Corp certified. In their own words “Certified B Corporations meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, transparency, and responsibility.” Cotopaxi should be their poster child. They have transparency into their workforce and supply chain, donate back to the planet and their workforce in dollars and time, and generally, genuinely, and openly do good.

One of our favorite initiatives from Cotopaxi is their Repurposed Collection: items they sell that are made up from scraps of other products, and which are therefore completely unique (such as the Del Dia pack). They truly live up to the tagline: “Gear for Good.”

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There are all kinds of awesome initiatives out there for brands to align with, or create on their own. Sports Basement donates 10% of profits to local charities and nonprofits. Jade Yoga plants a tree for every yoga mat sold. And Parks Project kinda does it all.

Parks Project, which started as a volunteer effort and evolved to also be a (really cute) brand, donates back to our National Parks and beyond. They still lead volunteer efforts, like beach clean ups at Point Reyes, plus so many park-specific efforts. The basic formula is you buy an item and the corresponding park gets a perk. That adorable Yosemite shirt? Helps fund trail restoration. That Tahoe tank? Helps get kids outside to experience the beauty of nature first hand.

Their efforts include volunteering and funding for habitat restoration, visitor programs, wildlife conservation, youth education, and volunteering. Yeah, I said volunteering twice.

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We've seen recycle, we've seen reuse, but where's reduce? The easiest way to stay green is to buy less, but gear is still important for enabling you to get outdoors and hug some trees. That's where Sports Basement's rentals come in! We rent durable, long-lasting gear for camping, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, mountaineering and even cycling! Your wallet will be happy, and so will your closet.