Around mid last year I was disparaging about the UK's Ethical Consumer group ranking outdoor clothing purveyors Patagonia and Rohan equally, when in my mind the former is far and away the greener of the two, particularly when its reason for bearingis, in part, to, " ... use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis."
I still hold to my views on the two companies. But I would be remiss in not giving Rohan credit where it is due.
The company's original co-founder Sarah Howcroft has returned to the Rohan fold after a long absence, and through their social media forum, Rohantime, has been providing prominence to the company's greener initiatives. This has included a partnership with Oxfam, whereby customers donate their unneeded Rohan outdoor and travel travel clothing to select stores, which in turn donate them to Oxfam, whilst giving the customer a 10% Rohan discount voucher (similar to a program that Horny Toad has run for several years called Share the Warmth.)
Rohan is also a founding member of Explore Red (Re-Use, Explore, Discover), a new UK endeavour to "research and promote the re-use of outdoor clothing, footwear and equipment after it has been used by the original owner."
And I'm particularly enamoured by Sarah's Green Glossary of Outdoor Gear, a comprehensive listing of eco-attributes you might find in brands other than Rohan themselves.
The company does however support the Himalayan
outdoor gear library known as Porters Progress, by actually donating goods and also promoting it's cause to their customers.
And although it easy to get caught up in the glamour of exotic new materials and finishes, this is not the be all and end all of responsible design. I have Rohan clothing that a couple years shy of being 30 years old and I'm still wearing them. Designs, fabrics, trims and construction that exhibit such longevity are inherently green of themselves. They endure, avoiding the need to squander precious resource on make new stuff.
The Rohan blog is rich with stories of green exploits, like the zero waste climbing gym, The Castle, which we mentioned earlier this week. Or the Fix the Fells initiative, or the Clean Europe Expedition, or the London to Cambridge charity bike ride.
Whilst Rohan, as a company, may not have the overtly green focus that brands like Patagonia, Nau, Finisterre, Klattermusen, and others, have, that doesn't negate individuals within the organisation from embracing environmentally and social aware actions.
At one level this makes such eco actions more powerful, because they are owned by people at the coal face, rather than dictated from above.
All of which has been a long-winded way of saying: every little bit helps,and from small things big things grow. It's more important that there be active environmental good deeds, than they be complete and perfect. Some action trumps a lot of inertia.