Sustainability : how Green is your Climbing Gear ?

When we go outside to climb, we can make informed decisions based on how much our actions impact the environment. Thanks to guidebooks, local beta, and other resources for best practices, we can choose to camp in designated areas, bring our pup (or not), stay on trails, and decide how best to dispose of our poo.

It’s easy to assume that gear manufacturers have equivalent resources to help guide positive choices around their own impact, in order to advance environmental, labor, and social sustainability. Despite a global movement for eco-friendly practices, this isn’t always the case. Many brands are taking a deeper look into their entire supply chain. But they are struggling to fix the harmful practices that used to be status quo.

Sustainability : how to do better ?

The process to become more sustainable has been a gradual one. The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) states: “Sustainable business is about asking, ‘How can we do this better?’. It’s about working together on shared challenges. And asking the questions that drive innovation, environmental responsibility, and positive contributions to the communities from which we source, in which we manufacture, and to which we sell.”


Right now, sustainability is about incrementally improving supply-chain practices. And consumers are looking for companies with a commitment to the environment. In 2016, Nielsen, the largest global marketing research firm, put out a Global Corporate Sustainability Report. “Consumer brands that demonstrate commitment to sustainability outperform those that don’t,” it reads.

“Consumer brands that haven’t embraced sustainability are at risk on many fronts.” These claims are backed by a survey of 30,000 consumers in 60 countries along with retail-sales data. In 2015, sales of consumer goods from brands with a demonstrated commitment to sustainability have grown more than 4 percent globally. While those without grew less than 1 percent. And 66 percent of consumers say they are willing to pay more for sustainable brands. Up from 55 percent in 2014 and 50 percent in 2013.

More information

Despite significant challenges in distilling sustainability initiatives to a simple website heading or product tag, that is exactly where consumers are looking for information. In 2014, 51 percent of Millennials reported checking the product packaging for sustainability claims before making a purchase. To make truly informed decisions, we need more information about the product through its entire lifecycle.

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