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.