How Outdoor Retailers Are Leading The Sustainability Charge In 2023

by Stevie Smith December 06, 2023 4 min read

How Outdoor Retailers Are Leading The Sustainability Charge In 2023

The outdoor retail industry has grown substantially in the last 10 years - now producing tens of billions of dollars of revenue annually, there’s more options than ever for crucial gear like jackets, sleeping bags, tents, climbing & snow gear - you name it.

More production than ever, means that we have to carefully examine how these items are being produced, and what the companies producing them are doing to give back to the planet. Let’s dive into the world of outdoor retail and explore how some brands, from giant and niche, are making a difference in the quest for a greener planet. From reducing waste to embracing renewable energy and promoting ethical practices, these are some of the brands setting the bar high when it comes to caring for our environment.


REI goes above and beyond to prioritize sustainability - most recently shown by closing their doors on Black Friday, encouraging their customers to get outdoors. The#optoutside campaign really inspired us - Black Friday & Cyber Monday (BFCM) is a make-or-break season for retailers, and closing to promote sustainability & less consumerism on one of the biggest ‘opportunity’ days of the year, is commendable. 

In addition, REI invests in sustainability through their used gear programs, in which they enable customers to buy and sell pre-loved outdoor equipment, reducing the need for new production and extending the life of gear.

The North Face

The North Face, a subsidiary of the VF (Vans) Corporation, is committed to sustainability across the board. They strive to use more recycled materials and are working towards 100% renewable energy in their stores and offices.

They've also launched two programs to increase circularity of their products; a "Clothes the Loop" program, where customers can bring back used apparel and footwear to be recycled, reducing landfill waste, and “North Face Renewed”, a marketplace where they sell refurbished used gear, helping keep more of their products in use for longer.

Enlightened Equipment

Enlightened Equipment is another brand that is passionate about creating sustainable outdoor gear. The DownTek insulation in their high-quality sleeping quilts and jackets isResponsible Down Standard certified

In addition, we’re proud to say thatEnlightened Equipment recommends cleaning their down-filled products with us - and in doing so, their customers have already saved an equivalent of thousands of gallons of water, compared to the traditional at-home hand-washing process recommended by most down sleeping bag manufacturers. 


Cotopaxi is another outdoor retailer that prioritizes people and the planet. They partner with ethical factories, promote fair labor practices, and provide grants to enhance worker well-being. 

Their goal is to use recycled, repurposed, or responsibly sourced materialsin all products by 2025, reducing waste and promoting sustainability. Cotopaxi also supports communities through their nonprofit Cotopaxi Foundation, which receives 1% of their revenue. They are transparent about their sustainability efforts and challenges, making a positive social and environmental impact.


Black Diamond Equipment

Black Diamond Equipment takes a holistic approach to sustainability. They have a 2200 Watt solar energy system at their headquarters, generating about 3000 kWh of electricity each year.  Their apparel materials are bluesign APPROVED, offering comfort without compromising the environment. 

Black Diamond is also one of the brands that form the founding members of the Outdoor Industry Association'sClimate Action Corps, a ‘supergroup’ of outdoor retailers that advocate for sustainable practices and outdoor participation.


How eClean Helps Outdoor Brands Increase Sustainability

As we explored Enlightened Equipment’s sustainability contributions, we mentioned that they work with us to promote sustainable cleaning of their gear.

We work with Enlightened Equipment, and other outdoor & apparel retailers, to help their customers breathe new life into their products after use. Outdoor gear like sleeping bags, tents, jackets, and hammocks can take a beating - particularly items filled with down, or made with natural materials like leather or wool.

Our cleaning process brings those items back to like-new condition, using no water, no toxic, petroleum-based detergents, and no heated dry. Not only does this save water & energy - it also blows machine-wash and dry-clean results out of the water, including re-lofting down insulation (warmer jackets, gloves & sleeping bags/quilts).

Preserving the quality of these items helps them hit the trail again and again - minimizing the production needed, creating a domino effect of sustainability across the supply chain.

For the ‘cherry on top’, our centralized facility is located in Denton, TX - a city (we love!) that just so happens to be officially dedicated toproviding 100% renewable energy for its residents & businesses. 

This list doesn’t include everyone.

That’s because sustainability and circularity has become a core target of the outdoor industry - and we’re here for it. From ridding products of harmful chemicals like PFCs & PFAS, to the constant innovation in recycled materials likeThermore’s EVOdown®, to the monetary & political contributions towards sustainability & innovation - there are dozens, if not hundreds, maybe thousands of companies in the outdoor retail & equipment industry are leading the charge in creating sustainable products, and maximizing the lifespan of those products.

You can see it for yourself too - the next time you’re in the market for a new jacket, gloves, boots, look up (‘company name’ sustainability) on Google. It may be the difference between buying something that lasts for a year, or many years.

Or better yet, break out that old gear, ship it to us, and let us show you that sustainability doesn’t have to be difficult. *wink*

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