|Hound Tor, Dartmoor with my sister near the top|
It was horrible work without gloves but once we started and saw the need, we couldn't help ourselves. And every time I'm in the mountains or on the Moors, I am finding and picking up litter. I recognise many others do the same.
We can't do everything. But we can can all do something. And our little something can become a big thing if we all do our part.
There's a famous story of a beach full of starfish and one boy throwing starfish backing the sea one at a time. Someone tells them there are too many and what the boy is doing won't make a difference. "It made a difference to that one" the boy replied, as he threw another starfish back into the water...
So what can we do and equally important, how can we be responsible in the outdoors and out of the outdoors? Thankfully in the last few years, some companies are thinking in this way too, especially as consumers demand more ethical and environmental responsibility. Looking back, it's hard to believe that outdoors manufacturers would be doing things that were harmful to the environment in the first place. But this is perhaps thinking with hindsight. What's important is what we do now and next.
Here are some things that manufacturers are doing, along with some ideas of what we can do and encourage others to do... Please note I have no connections with any of the mentioned companies and am not paid for anything I write.
1. Patagonia - https://eu.patagonia.com/gb/en/environmentalism.html
Things such as their 'Worn Wear' idea where clothes are freely repaired or repurposed was a pioneering idea. To this day, Patagonia can be found at places like the Kendal Mountain Festival freely repairing clothing from all brands. Of course they also pioneered using non live-plucked down feathers in their jackets too.
Patagonia are also ones who give out grants, support environmental projects, reducing their impact on the environment and working to make their products have a lower carbon footprint. Their most recent campaign to protect Europe's wild rivers ('Blue Heart Campaign') has raised great awareness of the destructive impact of dams in wild areas.
This is a fantastic range of materials and ideas that Vaude should be hugely commended for. Vaude also have a 'second use' ebay shop, another helpful idea (ebay.de so it's in German / Euros).
3. Primaloft Bio - http://primaloft.com/primaloftbio
This process takes just one year, unlike for example polyester which remains almost intact after the same amount of time.
Again, this is brilliant piece of news for the environment and outdoors industry. Brilliant to see Primaloft not only investing in this but making the news public (often innovations are kept secret for years due to marketing forces). Of course Primaloft already to their Eco range of fills which have apparently saved 85 million plastic bottles from landfill.
|Descending Swirral Edge|
Startup products that are using wholly or mostly sustainable materials are also to be commended.
What we as consumers need to think about is what happens to our item of clothing etc once it has finished its usefulness. Here are some ideas...
1. Can a used or unused item be donated to the incredible Gift Your Gear to support young people and other groups - http://giftyourgear.com
2. If not Gift Your Gear, then can you donate to the Salvation Army, a clothing bank in your area or similar? How about giving away unused items anyway.
3. Can you buy from and support companies with ethical and environmental policies to avoid creating the problems in the first place?
4. When you're out in the hills, pick up litter and support groups who work to fight against the kinds of selfishness we see in the Trossachs for example around Loch Lomond where mindless people simply abandon tents and items they don't want. Places like Glastonbury now give away used abandoned tents, but the issue should not be there in the first place.
Educating people about the outdoors should be a priority from outdoors companies. Are there any companies that would like to take up that baton? As a schools worker, I'd be more than happy to help!
5. One of my friends used to work for Cotswold at a leading store. She purposely encouraged the manager to take recycling more seriously. Before her interventions, the store was not always recycling packaging properly due to focusing on sales, so she suggested doing so. By the time she left for another job, the store was recycling more effectively. I hope it continues to do so.
I'd also like to encourage every single outdoors retail store to make recycling, reducing carbon footprint etc much more seriously. Showing you act sustainably, ethically and have integrity will always positively affect business. Not doing so will negatively impact business.
Final question is to every one of us reading this - how are we going to act to make a positive difference? Not acting is no longer an option, especially if you say you care about the outdoors.