Outdoor Gear & Environmental Impact

What kind of an environmental impact does our beloved outdoor gear and clothes have? Are our consumer habits creating negative effects to the very same environment we seek to marvel? Green values are starting to be a big thing in outdoor marketing, but I feel it would be good for all of us to take a closer look at the bigger picture behind the advertising.

This is a field which requires a lot of research – and a lot of time to dig deep into. We are so separated from the manufacturing – from the making of things – by advertising and the market economy, that for many it is hard to even know where to get started on these matters. My idea is to explore some chosen topics on these environmental issues in a blog series, with a focus on looking at the full product lifecycle, from manufacturing to usage and recycling.

For this first part in the series – a teaser or primer if you will – I will not dwell deep on details. Instead I want to identify and describe four topics which I’ve found to be good guidelines when evaluating ‘how green’ you can be when buying clothes or gear.

  1. Identify the need. Do I need to buy new stuff? Can I borrow, rent or buy used? Often the greenest purchase decision is to not buy at all. Many of us buy things just because something new is a bit lighter, or a bit more “up to date”. But what happens to the old stuff?
  2. Know the materials. Natural or synthetic? Canvas or shell? Organic, recycled? From a lifecycle perspective natural materials usually win, due to their lower impact during usage, recycling and disposing. But there are exceptions when the manufacturing phase is taken into account. Durability and repairability is good to remember as well.
  3. Place your trust mindfully. Are certificates such as Bluesign a guarantee for environmentally responsible products? Partially yes, but again you need to understand the full lifecycle – certifications are usually given just for the manufacturing process.
  4. Know where the product is from. Something made close by is usually better, but not as the primary value. The effects caused by the other variables may well tip the scale towards a more sustainable choice.

Especially #2 and #3 are topics which I will focus on future entries. Stay tuned.

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