Gear manufacturers have gone to great lengths to create products that perform well, look good and have unique features that make them even more useful on our adventures. On top of that, most of those companies share our love for nature and want to protect the Earth from harm. To that end, the outdoor industry continues to adopt environmentally sound practices that help protect the planet in some way.
In fact, some go to great lengths to not only be eco-friendly in their approach to business, but to also give something back to the less fortunate along the way.
PatagoniaPatagonia’s mission to be environmentally and socially responsible starts at the very top, where its legendary founder, Yvon Chouinard, leads by example. A climber, surfer, businessman, environmentalist and activist, Chouinard gained a great love and respect for the planet throughout his many adventures to far-flung places — including the region in South America from which the company received its name.
As a result, Patagonia is extremely transparent about its business practices, supply chain and production methods, ensuring that its employees are treated fairly, have safe working environments and earn a fair wage. Beyond that, Patagonia donates one percent of its sales to support environmental projects across the globe, and Chouinard has successfully challenged other companies to follow suit with his 1% for the Planet initiative.
At Patagonia, giving back isn’t just part of the corporate mantra; it is woven deeply into the company’s DNA and is a valuable part of what they do each and every day.
CotopaxiAnother company that gets its name from an iconic adventure destination in South America is Cotopaxi. It may not be as big or well known as Patagonia, but it was founded with similar goals and principles in mind, most notably to make good gear and give something back to the world.
To that end, Cotopaxi manufactures a number of fun products for outdoor activities and travel, with proceeds from every item sold going to support a wide variety of worldwide charities. Amongst those are orphanages in Tanzania and Bolivia, an organization dedicated to improving health and education in Nepal and another attempting to deliver clean drinking water to 100 million people across the globe.
Just how seriously does Cotopaxi take its mission? Every product it makes comes with the company’s famous “Human Lifespan Guarantee.” Currently that guarantee stands at 61 years, which is the average lifespan of a person living in the developing world. As that lifespan increases, so too will the length of Cotopaxi's product warranties.
Want further proof of the company’s commitment? Their Twitter account is @GearForGood.
BerghausBritish gear manufacturer Berghaus is best known for making a wide array of excellent outdoor apparel, including the lightest waterproof jacket on the market today. But the company is also constantly on the lookout for ways it can improve its products while also lessening its impact on the environment.
This has led to a revolutionary new approach to how it colors its fabrics, which has resulted in a substantial reduction in the amount of water that is used in the dyeing process. In fact, Berghaus’ new ColorKind manufacturing method uses 89 percent less water than traditional dyeing practices and reduces emissions by as much as 63 percent. After using this innovative process for one year, it's estimated that Berghaus has saved more than 1 million gallons of water while still managing to make products that are more vibrant and hold their color longer than ever before.
On top of that, in 2016 the company will launch its “Made Kind” line of gear, with each item certified to have less of an environmental impact through the use of recycled materials or new eco-friendly production methods. Berghaus is a great example of how one determined company can have a big impact on our world.
Osprey PacksColorado-based Osprey Packs is one of the most popular outdoor gear companies around, and for good reason. Their backpacks are among the best in the business, and they’re backed up by the legendary All Mighty Guarantee, which promises that Osprey will repair or replace any of their products no matter how old it is.
But the company is also committed to being good stewards to the environment — so much so that for years Osprey has stitched the tenets of the Leave No Trace credo on the inside of every one of its bags. Beyond that, the company’s corporate headquarters is completely powered by green energy and carbon offsets are purchased to compensate for any emissions that are released during the shipping process.
Osprey also uses recycled materials in many of its packs, as well as any boxes it uses to ship its products. Furthermore, the company is a contributing corporate partner to the Access Fund and the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, two organizations dedicated to preserving outdoor spaces.
United by BlueWhile not as big or well known as the other gear companies on this list, United by Blue is proof that you don’t need to be a large outfit to make a difference. Founded in 2010, the outdoor and travel apparel designer has always made it part of its mission to have a positive impact on the environment. In fact, United by Blue promises that for every product it sells, they'll clean up 1 pound of trash from oceans, rivers, lakes and other waterways.
So far, that promise has resulted in more than 248,000 pounds of garbage being removed from polluted waters in 22 different states. Most of that was done during cleanup initiatives hosted by United by Blue staff themselves, with more than 135 such events having been organized thus far.
These companies are just a few examples of the great work that is being done within the outdoor industry, where recycled materials and eco-friendly practices are quickly becoming the norm. As outdoor enthusiasts who purchase new gear on a regular basis, it is good to know that the companies we support share our concern for the planet and are taking steps to help preserve it for future generations as well.
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