Outdoor Industry Looks to Improve Sustainability Standards

"There is no business to be done on a dead planet." This was the view of renowned mountaineer turned environmentalist David Brower (Executive Director of the Sierra Club and founder of both Friends of the Earth and the Earth Island Institute.) It is also the view of outdoor clothing and equipment industry. You need seasons of consistent rain, snow and ice, if you want to make a living selling rain jackets, hire skis, or make crampons.

So key mover-and-shakers in outdoor adventure industry, on both side of the Atlantic, are pulling up their merino wool socks to ensure sustainability becomes as much a part of doing business as sales, service and salaries.The Sustainability Working Group (SWG) formed as a sub-chapter of the European Outdoor Group (EOG) in 2008. Their aim is to provide solutions to sustainability challenges facing the outdoor industry and its global stakeholders. They have set themselves the ambitious task of improving the ecological / environmental impact of the industry. Within the SWG has formed the Standards and Regulations Committee, who are planning to provide communication on legislation, and certification / labelling schemes. This committee envisages a one-stop definitive industry database on environmental information.

The SWG also a have a committee seeing what can be done regarding an outdoor products End of Life.

Another project of the Sustainability Working Group has been linking up with their North American counterparts, the Eco Working Group (EWG), who working under the auspices of the Outdoor Industry Association. The EWG is working with 60 outdoor businesses to develop an environmental assessment tool or "Eco Index" (PDF), so that companies can factor environmental performance into the design of their product, just as they do production costs.

The idea of both Europe's Sustainability Working Group and America's Eco Working Group collaborating is to provide a degree of consistency across the global outdoor industry.

I could be wrong, but it seems like environmental issues have become the first common ground that unites two otherwise disparate industries, aside from setting trade show dates.

Were he with us today, David Brower, would no doubt be chuffed that so many outdoor businesses realise their corporate future depends on a healthy planet.

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Tags: Camping | Corporate Responsibility | United States

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