The Outdoors and Sustainability: How to Buy Green Gear

©istockphoto/Gerad Coles

For out­door lovers, pur­chas­ing gear can be a tricky and even eth­i­cal dilem­ma. You want it, you might even need it, but you’re also aware enough to know that all gear comes with an envi­ron­men­tal price tag. So how can you pur­chase respon­si­bly, leave less of an envi­ron­men­tal foot­print, pro­mote sus­tain­abil­i­ty, and still get the qual­i­ty items you need? Read on to explore your options.

Items Made from Recy­cled Mate­ri­als
More and more out­door brands are using every­thing from plas­tic water-bot­tles to re-pur­chased and reclaimed mate­ri­als to make their gear. They’re doing this for two rea­sons: It’s cheap mate­r­i­al that can eas­i­ly be con­vert­ed into a prof­it yield­ing prod­uct and, it allows them to please their green cus­tomers. Win, win.

What items are made from these types of mate­ri­als, you might won­der?

Plas­tic bev­er­age bot­tles are often con­vert­ed into back­packs, sleep­ing bags, tents, tarps, and even fleece jack­ets. Met­al cans can be used to cre­ate new parts for your beloved bike, while glass bot­tles often become beer bot­tles for your sum­mit bev­er­age.

That said, do your research when pur­chas­ing items to dis­cov­er what mate­ri­als were used and how those mate­ri­als were sourced.

Com­pa­nies that Off­set Their Emis­sions
Many com­pa­nies in the out­door indus­try do a num­ber of things to off-set their car­bon emis­sions. What does that mean, exact­ly? Per­haps you’ve heard of your “car­bon foot­print”, which is essen­tial­ly how many emis­sions a per­son or com­pa­ny is respon­si­ble for putting into the envi­ron­ment. To “off­set” these emis­sions, that per­son or com­pa­ny must do var­i­ous “green” things that help the envi­ron­ment such as using com­pact flo­res­cent light­ing or using hydro-pow­er dur­ing their pro­duc­tion process.

Once again, this takes research on your part, so read-up on how your favorite brands are striv­ing to reduce their car­bon foot­print and how you can too.

Com­pa­nies Who Give Back
Many out­door brands donate mon­ey to var­i­ous out­door ini­tia­tives. Whether they’re fund­ing research, cleanup, or edu­ca­tion­al endeav­ors, most con­sumers agree that out­door com­pa­nies have an eth­i­cal respon­si­bil­i­ty to pro­tect and advo­cate for the envi­ron­ment.

Buy­ing and Repair­ing Gear Made to Last a Life-time
Though you may have to shell-out more mon­ey ini­tial­ly, buy­ing high-qual­i­ty items that will last for many, many years reduces your over­all con­sump­tion. Even though we seem to live in a “throw-away” cul­ture where things are used for a year and then dis­card­ed for the newest mod­el. Luck­i­ly, many out­door brands believe in mak­ing gear that lasts and some even have ini­ti­ates like Patagonia’s Com­mon Threads, which encour­age and assist you with repair­ing your gear.