The North Face Unveils First Sustainability Report

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The North Face surge pack infographic
Promo image. The North Face
The North Face sustainabilty report banner

The North Face/Video screen capture

The North Face is one of the world’s most iconic outdoor clothing and equipment brands. They may not be as well known for their green endeavours, though that might be about change, as they gather a head of (green) steam with the release of their first public sustainability report.

The Report which can be found follows the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G3 Guidelines, focuses mostly on their efforts during 2010, although does mention some initiatives in the preceding years. It also spells out where they feel they are falling short and lists their future goals.

For example, their use of recycled content garments increased on 1% in the 2010-2011 period, but they plan to up that from a total of 7% to 30% by 2015.

Also found in the report are their endeavours in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions (GGEs) and waste, alongside increasing outdoor recreation participation, and community volunteering.

The actual Report is rather dry reading, but The North Face have pulled out many of the salient sections and given them more life and made them more approachable. Such as by use of case studies like the one below for the eco impact of their Surge Pack.

The North Face surge pack infographic
Promo image. The North Face

The North Face/Promo image

I also particularly liked the honesty in this quote from Philip Hamilton, TNF’s VP of Global Product

“Until this point it has been ‘my sustainable is more sustainable than your sustainable.’ This is not a win-win scenario. It should be about conservation and the environment. It should be about deeply rooted corporate responsibility not market positioning. Once we have a robust set of brand and corporate standards in place, it will drive the whole industry forward.”

And this one, attributed to Lizzy Hawker, a The North Face athlete:

Exploration is defined as the act of searching or traveling a terrain for the purpose of discovery. For The North Face, it defines our raison d’être. In scientific research, exploration is the attempt to develop an understanding. We have to explore together this concept of sustainability and to act on our understanding — incomplete as it may be.

Over on The North Face blog you can find conservation photographer, James Balog, writing about research work into the Yukon glaciers of Alaska. Although 1 glacier advanced, 876 glaciers retreated. whilst 523 disappeared. The research by Dr. Martin Sharp, a glaciologist at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, found that “22% of the area covered by ice 50 years ago is now ice-free.”

As James Balog sees it:

Any mulehead can understand what the ice is saying: the climate is changing. It isn’t a computer model or a projection. It’s real. It’s measurable. And it’s astounding. Tell your climate skeptic friends next time you get a chance.

Elsewhere in the blog you’ll learn that The North Face have just donated $125,00 USD to organisations that help connect kids to the outdoors. One of the many projects that form but a part of the company’s sustainability report.

Yet even for all their good works The North Face acknowledge they are merely at the basecamp of an expedition into sustainability. For example, their Global Reporting Initiative format Sustainability Report has them at a modest C rating, with another 5 rungs to climb before achieving the pinnacle of an A+ report.

The North Face Sustainability Report, via SportsOneSource