Positive Change In the New Year

How the Outdoor Industry (and we) can reduce negative environmental Impact

Sustainability is a buzz word that infiltrates our minds and worlds creating two opposing thoughts in our brains. 1- YES! I believe in that! And 2 – (guilt!) Oh! Am I doing enough?

For those of us involved with, working in, or wishing we worked in the outdoor industry we closely align with this quality of not harming the environment or depleting natural resources. It is likely as near and dear to our hearts as it is with the companies we are collaborating with to work for or consume from. How are we all doing to protect this great outdoors we are so passionate about?

Recently flags have been popping up alerting my attention to the power of this practice and the detriment of ignoring it. From a coffee conversation with a girlfriend alerting my awareness to the trend of buying cheap new clothing to have the thrill of a new shirt only to have it fall apart, look terribly worn, or simply be out of style after merely a year… to watching with horror the check out lines over the holidays bag and double bag item after item in plastic… even my frantic shutting off of faucets in our home when left running while the consumer of said water looks at me alarmedly. The statistics are grim with 10.5 million tons of clothing filling our landfills each year, 68 million plastic bags thrown away in Napa Valley alone – 8 billion plastic bags entering the waste stream, and 5 gallons of water wasted when brushing our teeth with running water (while much of the world survives on 3 gallons of water per day), how can we change our practices and standards to create a positive impact rather than a drain?

The Outdoor Industry Association brings attention to this by asking the question of “how can we do this better?” From animal welfare, chemical management, to material traceability they highlight some of the practices used in many of the companies we admire, OIA highlights The Higg Index as one of the ways they are helping to bring awareness and changes that are measurable. Designed as an assessment tool, The Higg Index “delivers a holistic overview of the sustainability performance of a product or company.” In collaboration with The Higg Index, the OIA is committed to drive change and improve environmental standards and social responsibility. How can we do the same?

You’ve heard it all before, I know, I know. But it’s a new year and we are all committed to doing things better, different, one drop at a time. Here’s some ideas to kickstart your own list:

1. Fix leaky faucets.
2. Use a rear hitch mount over a top roof rack to improve fuel consumption.
3. Use a hanky. Ok, no one does this anymore, but wouldn’t it be charming and quintessential?
4. Keep Monsanto out of your garden and fridge (buy organic & local, search for produce with the label of either organic or nongmo – both produced from seeds that are not genetically modified)
5. Lower your water usage (install an aerated shower head, use leftover water in bottles to water your plants, turn off the faucet when washing dishes and brushing teeth, collect rain water to reuse)
6. Walk. Bike. It’s exercise + transportation, right?? Or utilize high fuel economy vehicles such as scooters, hybrid vehicles, or ebikes. Also, slow down when driving. It saves on fuel and usually only changes your arrival time by a fraction.
7. Smile. Seriously. Perhaps the greatest positive impact we can make on this world would be by reducing negativity. Go cold turkey, try it. And whenever you have something negative to say, reduce your impact by saying three positive things.

Happy 2017 fellow environmental enthusiasts. May this be a year of positive change for you and for our world.

~Marla Johnson



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