Sustainability Snapshot: Climate Week Edition

Since the beginning of 2020, we’ve taken significant and important steps toward meaningful industry-wide progress.

By Amy Horton September 21, 2020

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Today marks the first day of the annual NY Climate Week. A year ago, our team was in New York City for one of our Sustainability Boot Camps, and when it was over, we had the incredible opportunity to march with several thousand young people in support of responsible business and governmental climate action. It was an experience none of us will forget, and it was a hopeful beacon for meaningful change.

Things are much different this year, not only because of the COVID pandemic and the fact that Climate Week will be virtual, but also because we are experiencing, acutely and broadly, the very consequences of climate change. In my home state of Oregon, more than a million acres have burned, and the skies as far away as Washington D.C. are hazy from the smoke, the air quality precarious if not dangerous. Meanwhile communities in the Southeast are embroiled in our most active hurricane season on record. To all of our friends in the West and the South, we wish you safety. We know that whether it is the pandemic or the impacts of climate change, low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately impacted. These are important issues of social and climate justice, and must be a part of our conversations and of our work.

To all of our members and our fellow enthusiasts whose outdoor businesses and experiences are threatened, we are working toward a better and healthier future.

Since the beginning of 2020, we’ve taken significant and important steps toward meaningful industry-wide progress. Our accomplishments thus far:

  • In January, we launched our Climate Action Corps, and we currently have more than 65 companies measuring their climate impact and taking action to reduce it.
  • For the first time in OIA’s history, we have a climate policy agenda that will direct the advocacy work we do at the state and federal level to advance policies that incentivize carbon reduction, build more parks and paths to create climate resilient cities, promote natural climate solutions and accelerate our nation’s transition to renewable energy all with a firm commitment to social and climate justice, as noted above.
  • And today, we are launching our #VoteTheOutdoors campaign. You as individuals and as companies with incredible brand reach and brand loyalty have an opportunity to catalyze the electorate in what will certainly be the most consequential election of our lifetime. Find out more about #VoteTheOutdoors in the video below and on our website.


  • Join us, REI Co-op and Protect Our Winters on Wednesday September 23rd during Climate Week to explore advocacy, consumer behavior, and business-focused strategies to mitigate the worst impacts of the climate crisis.⁣

    In addition to our climate work, we continue to provide leadership and collaboration on sustainable business issues including circularity and chemicals management. Read on to learn what we’ve been up to in those areas. And when you’ve had your fill of reading, kick back or go for a walk with one of the recommended podcasts we share at the end of this newsletter.


    Thank you for reading, watching and listening.

    Amy Horton



    CLIMATE

    Eight months into launching the Climate Action Corps and over 65 companies have joined. As we reflect on the early progress made and media coverage gained in this short time (see below for Corps in the news), we sense a strong collective momentum that will undoubtedly inspire more companies to commit to climate action and further drive the ambitions for those who already have.

    Earlier this month, we announced a unique partnership with People for Bikes to extend this reach and empower collective action across outdoor and bike industries. As our first member under this partnership, we’d like to recognize and welcome Specialized, knowing well the valuable insights and leadership they’ll bring to the Corps this year and those to come.

    We also look to several Corps member companies from Ruffwear to REI and Klean Kanteen to NEMO Equipment who have not only been taking steps to make progress on climate action but embrace transparency by continuing to educate their customers along the way as well. Over the next several months, we’ll be diving into more trainings so that by the end of 2020, every Corps member can report that they’ve measured their owned and operated GHG footprint (things like the energy needed to run HQs, retail DCs, owned cars, etc.), set a target and made a renewable energy commitment. We look forward to sharing with you each Corps member’s progress report, as well as our collective insights, early next year as we reflect upon the first year of the Corps.

    For now, take a deeper look at what people are saying about the Corps and OIA’s climate policy approach: LA Times, ForbesSierra MagazineCNBCOR WeeklySustonSGBColorado Public Radio and our very own OIA Campfire Conversation


    CIRCULARITY

    When it comes to reducing emissions, it’s clear that circular business models are on target. From those that prolong product use to those that renew the old, there are a number of options ready today to actively decouple growth from impact – but, where can outdoor companies start and how can they prioritize?

    Simply put, optimize where you’ve already embedded value. 

    Just as this target reflects, your biggest opportunity is where your highest value is embedded – your product. It represents time and financial resources already allocated by your company, so keeping it in use and in circulation as long as possible only furthers the investment you’ve already made and minimizes its impacts already realized. A cycle by many names (like “reuse” above), it can be a smart first place to start. Whether it’s providing repair services or guidance (such as Rainy Pass Repairs and iFixit) or launching a re-commerce program (with Trove, Renewal Workshop or Gear Trade), these opportunities hold not only a good story to tell, but a profitable program as well.

    Next, when product can no longer be maintained and used, it’s time to turn to its next highest value – its components – and keep them in use (known as “remanufacture”). Although more commonly used across airplanes than outdoor product, this process of industrially disassembling and remanufacturing with replaced or repaired components is already possible and starting to take off (see Patagonia Recrafted or The North Face Remade for inspiration).

    Lastly, when components have met their end of life, it’s time to finally turn to the remaining embedded value – materials – and keep them in use and in continuous circulation (you guessed it, “recycle”). While companies can help drive this by incorporating recycled content into new products, the reality of end-of-life material recycling remains to be seen. Yet, contributing data on your materials and circularity efforts to organizations like Accelerating Circularity can help. Formed last year and funded by VF Corp, Target, Walmart and Gap, this non-profit, collaborative industry project is actively working to accelerate the textile industry’s move from linear to circular and serves as a promising horizon for an industry focused heavily on reducing its emissions by at least 45 percent by 2030.

    Regardless of which circular models best fits your business at this moment, keep in mind this perspective and these ordered priorities as you minimize your footprint and tap into this new value:

    1. REUSE (maintain your product)

    2. REMANUFACTURE (maintain your components)

    3. RECYCLE (maintain your materials)


    CHEMICALS MANAGEMENT

    The Climate Action Corps is a platform for suppliers of all types that help brands identify and adopt solutions that will ultimately reduce the emissions of their product. Knowing that the supply chain is where most of a product’s impacts occur, the role of suppliers and the low-or-no carbon innovations they provide, is critical for our shared climate ambitions as an industry.

    One such example comes from Archroma and their efforts to help companies save money, production time, energy, water and GHG emissions by reassessing chemicals – specifically those used to prepare, dye, and finish the textiles used in your products. As a Climate Action Corps member, Archroma innovates by creating systems to reduce the impacts of processing textiles and partners with OIA member brands like Kathmandu, Patagonia, and Vaude – such as adopting their EarthColors® technology, a fully traceable dye system bio-synthesized from plant waste ingredients. And the clear climate benefit? The carbon footprint (kg CO2 eq.) of EarthColors® can be as much as 99% lower than petroleum based dyes. When it comes to choosing and nominating technology systems, Archroma knows well that brands can reduce their environmental impacts, while also gaining more control over product quality, cost, and traceability at the same time.

    Is your company currently working on a chemical or material innovation? We want to hear about it. Email climateaction@outdoorindustry.org.

    As you’re likely aware, textile processing is complex and requires an enormous number of processes, technologies and innovations to produce the right material and desired performance. Decisions to save money, optimize productivity, reduce resource usage or minimize environmental impacts (or ideally, all of the above) are complicated and involve a broad range of raw materials, chemicals, and processes.

    Taking a system-based approach, Archroma provides visibility to this complex cause and effect in their calculation tool, the ONE WAY Process Simulator. Designed by Archroma’s textile processing experts, the tool provides companies a rare and accurate picture of what’s possible – before changes are made. From process savings and resource utilization to effluent discharge quality and CO2 emissions, companies have a valuable window into existing production processes and the opportunities of a newly evaluated system made up of a unique combination of innovations and processes advised by Archroma’s expert teams. And in doing so, they challenge the myth that sustainability and impact reductions add to the cost of products – such as Archroma’s DEEP DIVE system that uses highly efficient Drimaren® Ultimate HD reactive dyes and rinsing off agents that can reduce water use by 29% and can translate to a cost savings of 7% in finished fabric.

    To meet climate targets and reduce emissions, companies will need to look in all places – beginning with those that payback the investment over time. While Archroma’s innovations are built around solutions that reduce inputs, it’s the unique ability to enable cost savings in manufacturing that will help ensure these impact reductions go beyond a narrow adoption and reach the scale the industry needs and our global communities deserve.

    To explore Archroma’s cost and GHG-savings solutions and latest sustainability report, visit: https://www.archroma.com/sustainability.

    1. Environmental Profile of Oil Based Dyes vs. Natural Waste Based Dyes, Jan. 2015, Marcel Gomez Consultoria Ambierntal.

    Brought to you by the OIA Chemicals Management Community of Practice Steering Committee.


    FOR YOUR NEXT RIDE, RUN, WALK, CYCLE …


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