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The Triple Bottom Line Part 3: Economic Sustainability

By: Mackenzie Griesser

When examining the sustainability of a company, we have to consider the triple bottom line: the Environmental, Social, and Economic aspects of their business. This blog is the last of a 3-part series discussing the sustainability of different brands we sell here at RRT. We’ve already covered the environmental and social sustainability initiatives of these companies, so now it’s time to delve into the exciting world of economic sustainability! For the purpose of this blog, we will define economic sustainability as saving money and how the methods of saving affect the other two aspects of sustainability. These savings can happen several ways. The easiest way a manufacturing company can work towards economic sustainability is by reducing the amount ofHERproject money they spend on labor. Usually this occurs by outsourcing to foreign countries, which can have a strong negative impact on their social sustainability. The other major way they can reduce costs is by reducing the resources used for their offices, whether it be water, electric, or other materials; this plays into environmental sustainability as well.

Outsourcing labor to foreign countries is not at all uncommon these days. Labor is cheaper in other countries, so why wouldn’t companies take the least expensive route when it comes to manufacturing their products? There are fairly strict policies already in place to ensure the workers in these countries are treated humanely and earn decent benefits and wages, but several brands we carry take it a step further. For example, Mountain Hardwear, and its parent company Columbia, participate in HERproject, which is a workplace program that provides women’s health education to the ladies working in their factories in Vietnam and China. Additionally, they also partner with Better Work, which is a group that partners with the International Finance Corporation and the International Labor Organization. This cooperative works constantly to increase compliance with labor laws and improve working conditions overall. Another company that goes a step beyond the basic labor laws is Black Diamond. They are a founding member of the Outdoor Industry Association’s Fair Labor Working Group, which works to increase education of best practices. They also drafted OIA’s first Fair Labor toolkit and utilize information gathered from audits to create Corrective Action Plans to improve this toolkit. Unannounced audits performed by third party companies are standard across the board for all of the brands we carry.

Arc’Teryx goes above and beyoARCTERYX_0008nd traditional fair labor standards. They went as far as to create their own guidelines and policies to ensure their products are manufactured responsibly. Prior to entering into a contract with a facility, Arc’Teryx conducts a comprehensive audit of the existing factory, taking note of workplace conditions and current compliance to existing labor laws. Once any minor issues are fixed and the facility passes a secondary audit, a contract is made up and terms are agreed upon by both parties. These facilities are unique in that their employees are trained to use specialized techniques and equipment and earn high wages because of their unique skill sets. After the decision-making and contract-building processes are finalized, third-party audits are conducted monthly to ensure their standards are being upheld. In some cases, staff members are permanently assigned to monitor daily operations. While they stay up-to-date with labor compliance initiatives such as Fair Wear, they prefer to focus on the continual development of their own audit processes instead of partnering with external initiatives.

Another way companies can save money is reducing their resource use, increasing their environmental sustainability at the same time! Black Diamond and Thule definitely have the most initiatives of this sort. BD implemented a closed-loop anodization system, a super efficient way to reuse and recycle wastewater from their tumble and polish processes, in their Asian facilities. Similarly, Thule has a closed-loop system for wastewater in most of their manufacturing facilities and offices. Both of these companiLEED-for-the-wines do an excellent job of recycling waste from production as well. Excess water from the oil/water mixtures BD uses in production is boiled off and the oil is sent off to be recycled. They also recycle all of their leftover scrap metal and cardboard at their facilities in Utah and China. By the end of 2016, Thule aims to recycle 95% of their total waste. These companies are also similar in that they ship by sea and rail instead of plane and road whenever possible, significantly reducing their carbon footprint by doing so!

Reducing resource use in offices is another way companies can save lots of money. Several companies’ offices are fitted with energy-saving technologies such as the green roof on Black Diamond’s Rhenus warehouse and skylights at Patagonia’s Reno service center. Several offices and warehouses are LEED certified as well. LEED certification for buildings is measured on a point scale; different structural and technological implementations count for different amounts of points, which add up to certify the building as silver, gold, or platinum. Some examples of the types of technologies that are utilized to get this certification are low-flow toilet400x225_4---Solar-installation-on-Fire-houses, storm water collection systems, and automatic lights that are only on if someone is in the room. Many of the offices and warehouses of the brands we carry implement many of these technologies, and more! One interesting way Osprey saved money was in the heating and cooling of their headquarters in Cortez, CO. They planted native deciduous trees on the south side of the building to provide cooling shade in the summer and allow the sun t0 warm it in the winter. Patagonia utilizes unique landscaping at their Reno and Venture offices to divert rain water away from paved surfaces and into rain gardens and bioswales, where the water can return naturally to the water table.

Saving on costs is almost always at the top of a business’s priorities. And why wouldn’t it be? They’re trying to make money, after all! But there are right and wrong ways to do it. In my research for this blog, I found so many different money-saving methods that the brands we carry implement, and was happy to find that they are all super sustainable! These companies are saving a lot of money by reducing and reusing resources. And while many of them do most of their manufacturing oversees, they take so much care to make sure these employees are treated fairly, and many go above and beyond to provide them with beneficial programs as well!

This concludes the Triple Bottom Line blog series (you can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here). We’ve discussed how sustainable outdoor recreation companies really are on all three levels: environmentally, socially, and economically. You are now armed with knowledge for making mindful decisions when investing in these companies and can rest easy in knowing they are trying to protect our beautiful planet, just like you and I!

“The Everyday Ten Essentials”

Your Everyday Gear
Written by: Bryan Wolf

The Ten Essentials“, outdoor enthusiasts know these as the ten items that you don’t leave home without. The ten items that give you the best chance for survival in the Great Outdoors. Although lists vary, here is the gist:

 

 

1. Pocketknife
2. First Aid
3. Extra Layers
4. Rain Gear
5. Water
6. Lighting
7. Food
8. Fire Starter
9. Sun Protection
10. Map and Compass

The truth is, most outdoor adventures don’t call for an emergency fire or the use of a compass. While this list gets us through the worst nature has to throw our way it is hardly the most used equipment in the gear shed.  This list is fantastic, and I’m not disagreeing with it, at least not in this post. Rather, I wanted to create a list for our everyday challenges, for the other 5 days of the week that have us bouncing around the city from work to play before heading home to recharge the batteries and start all over again.  So what do we use everyday, that also translates to the outdoor lifestyle?

I wanted to create your “Everyday Ten Essentials“. a list that has you covered everyday, in nature, and in the office. So what items carry into both worlds? Through every season? Here is what I came up with:Everyday 10 Essentials

1. Klean Kanteen- A stainless steel drink bottle with a green footprint. Stay hydrated in any scenario and keep your favorite bottle handy. Better yet, the insulated versions are amazing and will keep hot or cold for most all of the day. Water to coffee or even taking a frozen margarita to the beach; I love this thing! (Best gift idea ever too)

2. ExOfficio Underwear- The World’s best travel and adventure underwear doesn’t have to be just that. Anti-microbial, quick dry, and well fitting comfort are features that we all deserve day in and day out. Try a pair and you may just convert your entire underwear drawer. Men’s and women’s come in several styles.

3. Wool Socks- Have you worn wool socks? Find your favorite brand; Smartwool, Darn Tough, or Point 6, and never go a day without! I was buying a new pack of cheap cotton socks every few months, they all would smell, and they all would tear. My feet feel 100x better with wool and I’ve not replaced a pair yet, plus I can take off my shoes without shame. With a variety of cushions and styles these have you covered from office to mountain peak. Did I mention they have a  lifetime warranty?!

4. Day Pack- Don’t limit yourself to a weekend pack; new Osprey, Patagonia, or Gregory packs offer lifestyle options galore.  I use my Osprey and Thule bags everyday to and from work. With a clean look, organizer pockets, and laptop sleeves I can fit the rest of my Ten Essentials everywhere I go. Your hands are busy and over loaded pockets are annoying. We all need more than we can carry, or at least we wish we had more than we carried.

5. Knife/Multi-tool No one said that there couldn’t be overlap between the lists. Trust me, if you have a Leatherman multi-tool or a Benchmade pocket knife you’ll find a dozen uses  everyday to use it. With the multi-tool you can get a bit more specific on your possible applications.  I carry my Benchmade everywhere I go and it saves me a whole lot of hassle.

6. Headlamp- Another backcountry essential, and I own four of them. Flashlights are all but dead to me. Most all scenarios including changing a spare tire or navigating a dark house in a power outage require the use of your hands. I have a headlamp in my car and in a kitchen drawer at home in addition to the waterproof high lumen ones in the gear shed. My favorite, the made in the USA Princeton Tec, followed by some awesome Black Diamond models.

7. Sunglasses- If you didn’t lose them all the time you would probably already have these with you everyday. Add a pair of Croakies to your Native Eyewear and keep them around longer. These travel with me from the center console in my car to the protective case in my day pack. Another all-around essential. All Natives have Polarized lenses and a lifetime warranty.

8. Fischer Space Pen- What is the number one thing you ask to borrow? It’s pointless carrying a cheap pen in your pocket, it won’t work when you need it and it is destined to explode and ruin a pair of pants. The Fisher Space Pen has a pressurized refillable cartridge that writes on wet paper, upside down, in the cold, and doesn’t explode. Although a pen doesn’t make the top ten list  for outdoor essentials, it should make your list. Use it to journal, for mapping or have it in the case of emergencies.

9. Goal Zero Recharger- We know you have your phone everywhere you go amongst other gadgets. Just because you are in civilization doesn’t mean that you have a charger and outlet around every corner. Head to the park, walk to lunch, go to the game, or sit at the center bar table far from a wall, You can take a few charges with you at about the size of a pack of Life Savers and $40 (Switch 8).  I’m in favor of escaping to nature without the use of modern devices, but it would seem silly now of days to backpack without being able to make an emergency phone call. I guess you could hike with a carrier pigeon.

10. Sunscreen- I rely on the lyrics of Baz Luhrmann for my last essential:

If I can give you one piece of advice: wear sunscreen.

Again, a carry over from one list to another, but how can you deny the importance of sunscreen. We could generalize this to more of a toiletries bag including some standard hygiene items like the versatile Dr. Bronners. If Dr. Bronners could be used as sunscreen I think that would be the one and only final item, but it can’t do everything.

Now that you have your list, pack your day bag or commuter bag with your Everyday Ten Essentials and head out into the world knowing that you are prepared for any day! Be sure to Tweet us @RRTrails your Ten Essentials, #10EverydayEssentials. we want to know what makes your list!

You can buy any of your “Ten Essentials” or your “Everyday Ten Essentials” at RRT.

Disclosure: The Ten Essentials of any variety will not help you in the event you fall into a Shark tank, are being chased by a Mountain Lion, or are experiencing parachute failure mid drop.

 

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