Eco-friendliness is a concept we’ve been bandying around a lot recently; hell, we’ve just launched our Eco-Friendly Collection. Pinning down exactly what it means is a tricky job, though, as there’s far more than one way to skin this particular, sustainably-sourced cat. One widely-adopted practise across the outdoor industry is to limit carbon emissions when manufacturing new goods, whether by producing them locally to cut down air miles, using ethically-sourced materials or some other green manufacturing practise. Some brands, like Trakke, pursue 'sustainability through longevity': creating products designed to last a lifetime to offset the environmental cost of their production.
Another way to garner eco credentials is to actively rebuff climate change; to plant trees in the face of deforestation and to clean oceans despite continuing plastic pollution. Instead of limiting negative impact, these practises are positive steps to help the natural world thrive. They’re fuelled by passion for the outdoors; just as these brands were started to engage with the great outdoors, now they are taking active efforts to protect it, for us and future generations.
That’s the whole reason that Tentsile exists. Founder Alex Shirley-Smith was distraught by images of deforestation and had an unusual inspiration for the solution: Ewoks. His idea was that if people are living in trees and using them, they can’t get chopped down; a simple but entirely effective idea. Tentsile’s tree tents have made that solution a reality, and now they’re on the front line of anti-deforestation efforts and planting trees in endangered areas across the world. For every tree tent purchased, they plant 18 trees. Far from simply making sustainable products, Tentsile are doing everything they can to protect and nurture the planet’s forests and woodland.
Nor are they the only brand with ambitious goals to aid the natural world. United By Blue, the US outdoor apparel brand, clean a pound of rubbish from the ocean with every purchase made; to date, they’ve cleaned over a million pounds of plastic and waste from coastlines. The apparel brand Passenger are both planting trees and cleaning oceans through their Waves & Trees initiative, too.
Some brands have kickstarted more innovative projects in their environmental efforts. Lifestraw, for example, run a Carbon Credits scheme whereby customers can purchase credits, which represent the reduction of one tonne of carbon dioxide from the planet’s atmosphere and provides one family in Kenya with clean drinking water for a whole year. Northern Playground, the Scandinavian producers of zipped baselayers, introduced a ‘self-imposed environmental tax’ in their partnership with the Norwegian Development Fund. For every product sold, they contribute to the fund, aiding tree-planting efforts in Africa.
Outdoor brands are the forefront of the battle against climate change and are finding ever more innovative ways to protect the great outdoors, and foster more environmentally sustainable practises. Saving the world isn’t an easy fight, though. As well as undertaking individual efforts to give something back to the environment, brands need to collaborate to make real, fundamental change to the way that both they and consumers interact with the outdoors. It’s something that Adventure Uncovered are committed to; they host events and talks that allow adventure brands and individuals to discuss social and environmental impact, and inspire real, effective change.
It’s easy to be pessimistic about the rate of global warming but, clearly, active effort is being made to protect the natural world and wild places from both climate change and human destruction. These efforts by outdoor brands are having a clear, measurable impact. By supporting them and adopting sustainable practises ourselves - like buying gear that will last a lifetime, not a season or two - consumers can make their innovative projects even more effective. It’s a slow, difficult fight, true; but it’s one worth fighting.
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