New Year's Resolutions: brand sustainability edition
We look at noteworthy commitments to the environment
When the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve, we all knew the drill: new year, new goals. This process of re-imagining the future looks a little different for everyone—goals, after all, reflect our unique values and aspirations, and signal our commitment to aligning the present with the future.
Sustainability is at the heart of Geartrade’s mission and is a big part of our goals for the future. “Gear belongs in the outdoors, not in landfills!” is our rallying cry. Since 1999, our goal has been to provide a user-friendly, centralized hub for buying and selling UnNew outdoor gear and apparel.
We aim to make it easy for people to reuse gear, keep the planet a little cleaner, and save the next generation of ski bums a little cash. We are always striving to do more, so at the end of last year, we joined the OIA Climate Action Corps. We and many other outdoor brands commit to measure, plan, and reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and share our progress annually. Together, we are a force for climate action.
With sustainability goals growing more common in the outdoor and adventure industries, we rounded up some of the most impressive new-year pledges we’ve seen this year. Which brands are committed to moving toward more-sustainable futures? Which are doubling down on commitments to the environment? There were many iterations of sustainability goals to parse through, so here are some of our favorites. As you’re browsing through Geartrade’s extensive collection of goods, keep these ambitions in mind.
Goal: to have plastic-free materials by 2023, eradicating synthetics from its entire collection.
In partnership with ocean advocate Ben Lecomte—who in 2019 swam through the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” to raise awareness of the number of plastics in our oceans—icebreaker made an inspiring commitment. Brand President Greg Smith stated, “We want to change the conversation around how clothes are made and the synthetics within them and make the information accessible to enable more conscious purchases. The apparel industry is the second biggest polluter in the world. As an apparel brand, we want to take charge and lead with positive change.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic progressed this spring, icebreaker noticed a surge in single-use plastics, which heightened their concern around the devastating effect plastics have on the planet. According to CNBC, this pandemic-induced plastic-use increase “is a major blow to the fight against plastic pollution, which is projected to increase by 40% in the next decade, according to a report from the World Wildlife Fund.”
This report and similar projections informed icebreaker’s commitment to eliminating all synthetics from their products. Carla Murphy, icebreaker’s vice president of Global Brand & Product, said in a statement that the company is exploring new, creative, and innovative ways to achieve this plastic-free goal, creating “a movement towards more natural apparel, creating accessible, desirable and functional natural apparel with less impact on the planet.”
Goals: by 2025, achieve 100% traceability on all materials; be supplied by 100% green energy; create a 25% reduction of energy consumption on all operations, a 25% reduction of transportation emissions, and a 30% reduction of emissions from all events.
Building off decades of emphasis on sustainable material sourcing and the prioritization of product durability, Fjällräven’s goals revolve around the company’s internal operations and the durability of their products. The focus is to make production more sustainable and keep products out of landfills for as long as possible—a practice Geartrade can get behind.
According to the brand’s 2021 sustainability statement, unimaginable volumes of textiles are doomed to landfills each day. “According to the UN, a rubbish lorry [the British-English equivalent of “garbage truck”] of textiles is burned or dumped in landfill every single second, while Fashion Revolution states that ‘textile waste is estimated to increase by about 60% between 2015 and 2030, with an additional 57 million tonnes of waste being generated annually, reaching a total of 148 million tonnes per year.’”
The ability to trace every single material used will help Fjällräven achieve a better understanding of the environmental impact of their materials and where they come from—plus more transparency in communication with customers. By focusing on their brand’s own energy consumption, they aim to not only fulfill their role as environmental stewards but also create positive examples for other brands to follow.
Goal: to use 90% sustainable content in all their products by the year 2022.
In 2020, Pearl iZUMi reached the half-way mark of their goal to use as many recycled, renewable, and organic materials as possible, and they’re doubling down to get even closer to that goal in 2021. The root of this commitment is to use their business practices, products, and advocacy to reduce the consumption of oil, and the use of oil in the active-apparel industry.
Not only does reclaiming materials keep them out of landfills, the brand states, but it also reduces their carbon footprint and without decreasing the performance of these recycled fabrics—meaning they’ll last just as long—a win-win for cyclists and the resale economy.
Goal: “going greener”—biomass energy production and regenerating textile wastes
The sustainable apparel company Headsweats is well-known for its performance clothing made from recycled bottles, and moving into 2021, they’re expanding their sustainability efforts not only into new types of apparel but also in deepening the environmental practices at their manufacturing facility in El Salvador: “‘Going green’ is an ongoing and systematic approach to more eco-friendly practices,” as Headsweats President Mike McQueeney puts it.
First-up is the launch of Headsweats’ new Active Line (January 2021), a women-specific collection of new activewear that’s made from recycled plastic water bottles. At their manufacturing facility, they’ve already installed solar energy panels, built an advanced water recycling process,developed energy-neutral biofuel, and achieved a 100% vertically integrated manufacturing facility. Their next goal is to produce biomass energy, which will involve the acquisition of machines that allow the regeneration of textile wastes.
Moving forward, McQueeney says, “Each time we put on our thinking caps to develop new products, the first pillar is to prioritize using REPREVE fabric in order to continue diminishing our environmental impact and bring us closer and closer to implementing a truly sustainable supply chain.
”We at Geartrade couldn’t be prouder of these brands and their brilliant (and creative) solutions to sustainability. Because when you shop UnNew, and the brand the item came from is a sustainable one, that’s more than a win for you. It’s a double win for the planet.
Emma Athena is an award-winning journalist and fresh-air lover. She writes about adventure and the environment, where humans and nature intersect at their most impactful moments. When she’s not glued to her keyboard or curled up with a book, she’s running in the mountains with her dog or camping with people she loves. To read more of her work and get in contact, visit emmaathena.com.