Roads Rivers and Trails

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The Triple Bottom Line Part 2: Social Sustainability

By: Mackenzie Griesser

The first blog of this series discussed the most obvious factor when determining a company’s sustainability: their environmental awareness.  Another important element that contributes to the triple bottom line of sustainability is social sustainability. This can be defined many ways, but for the purposes of this blog we will define it as a company’s efforts to give back to the communities in which they operate. This can be done several ways. Some companies organize fundraising events and donate the money to local environmental groups while others send volunteers to help with ongoing projects. No matter their level of involvement however, every brand we carry invests in their community in some way. Part two of a three part series on sustainability in the outdoor industry, this blog will highlight some of the social sustainability initiatives that different brands we carry at Roads Rivers and Trails have to offer.

Patagonia definitely takes the cake when it comes to community involvement and outreach. They work closely with several environmental organizations and donate 1% of all profits to nonprofit groups across the globe. Another way they raise funds for these groups is by organizing the Salmon Run, a 5k community “fun run” in Ventura, California. They also created an environmental internship program for their employees, which is one of the best internship programs I’ve ever seen. Not only do they allow the inteexte842rns to work with whatever environmental group they want, they continue to pay and offer benefits for the duration of the internship, which can be up to two months! Patagonia also takes steps to give back to its namesake, Chilean Patagonia, by sending employees at the company’s expense to help create a new National Park from a former sheep and cattle ranch. Volunteers help remove non-native plants and restore grasslands, build trails, and even built a visitors’ center and other necessary infrastructure. When it is finished the park will span 173,000 acres and be a home for over a hundred species of native fauna, including the four-eyed Patagonian frog and the near extinct huemul deer.

While Patagonia’s community outreach and dedication to environmental protection is truly astounding, Arc’Teryx is right behind them in giving back to communities and protecting beloved wilderness areas. However, they differ from Patagonia in that most of their involvement and outreach is through partnerships with other organizations. For example, they partner with the North Shore Mountain Bike Association to help maintain and protect mountain biking trails on Canada’s North Shore. They are also a sponsor of the Trail Builders Academy, which utilizes both on-site and classroom settings to teach proper trail building and maintenance techniques. They are also members of the European Outdoor Conservation Association, which requires a membership fee that directly funds projects that Arc’Teryx employees regularly volunteer time towards, and the Conservation Alliance, which engages businesses to fund and partner with organizations to protect wild plaArcteryx_BirdNestCape_Delivery_Day_1ces. The membership fees for this organization also go towards funding projects that are voted on by members. One project that Arc’Teryx created and organizes itself is the Bird’s Nest Project. Staff members volunteer time to sew discontinued Gore-Tex fabrics into garments for homeless citizens in Vancouver, which are distributed by local police departments and homeless shelters.

Another brand that invests a lot in their community and organizations across the country is Osprey. Like Arc’teryx, many of their social sustainability initiatives are through partnerships with other organizations. They helped Conservation Next organize and execute an event where volunteers spent the day removing invasive species and performing much needed restoration work on trails in Eldorado Canyon State Park. They also act as a sponsor for Telluride by financing renewable power for Lift 12, as well as sponsoring the Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival. On their own, they donate $2 of every pro deal sale to non-profit organizations, including the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and Continental Divide Trail Alliance, and donate 5% of profits from their biannual community “Locals Sale” to nearby non-profit organizations. Donations from these two fundraisers totalled around $7,000 in 2009. Financial donations aside, they also allow employees to do 8 hours of volunteer work on their clock, racking up 200 hours of paid volunteer work in 2009 alone.

These three companies definiteindexly do the most when it comes to social sustainability, but all of the brands we carry give back in one way or another. Rab and Prana contribute to multiple service projects, including restoration work at Peak District National Park (UK) and sending aid to natural disaster sites. Big Agnes and Sea to Summit support Leave No Trace, an international organization that teaches outdoor ethics. These two also support several other environment-focused organizations such as the Conservation Alliance, the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education, and the Outdoor Industry Association.

Some businesses see giving back to nearby communities as a great PR move, but it’s incredibly important to account for how their operations affect local people. Companies benefit from these communities and everything they have to offer, so it is crucial that they invest in them to ensure their longevity. Social sustainability is often overlooked or assumed, but the brands we carry here at RRT do an awesome job of making sure local neighborhoods and the organizations that support them are taken care of. However, they cannot truly be sustainable unless they follow the criteria of the triple bottom line, which includes social as well as environmental and economic sustainability. You can read about our apparel brands’ environmental sustainability here . Stay tuned for the final blog of this series, which will discuss the thrilling world of economic sustainability, coming soon!

Historic Milford Association

There was no other place for RRT to start their story; Milford was to be our home without question. Owners Joe and Emily are Milford residents, Joe being born and raised here. Nature Outfitters, which was our predecessor, had a home here for about 20 years before us. The downtown area is special, hosting unique shops, unique restaurants, and a very unique position as a trail junction. We wanted to have a positive impact on the city and its economic development and also on its image and reputation across the tristate.

The Historic Milford Association is a not-for-profit that helps the small businesses in Historic Milford unite and to showcase themselves. The association fights to protect business owners’ interest with local government and allows for a stronger singular voice as a collective. HMA focuses on marketing the downtown, including several festivals and events every year like Hometown Holidays and the Longstone Street Festival.

Both Emily and Bryan have held several board positions since becoming members in 2010. Emily has taken on a larger role and expanded responsibilities, acting as the Longstone chair for both 2013 and 2014. Today, Emily helps push social media and website content while also being the treasurer for the organization. All of these responsibilities are of course done as an unpaid volunteer to benefit the city in which we operate. In 2016 RRT was officially recognized by the Milford Miami Chamber of Commerce with an award for outstanding achievement with-in the community in “Environment and Education”.

Together with HMA we hope to continue to build the historic area of Milford to be an ever growing and beautiful place to eat, shop, and play. For more information on the Historic Milford Association, please visit the HMA website below. For more information on the “Trail Junction” and Milford as a trail town please read the RRT blog by clicking the link below.

Historic Milford Association

Read “The Best Trail Town” Blog

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Boy Scouts of America

RRT owner Joe White grew up with the Scouts. His father used the Scouting program to teach them character and discipline. Joe would reach the highest ranking of Eagle Scout. With Scouting, Philmont trips, and a 150 acre backyard, Joe was glued to the outdoors. He joined a High Adventure trip to Alaska just after High School, and then landed a summer job guiding trips for the High Adventure Base. For 6 summers, he enjoyed backpacking, canoeing, sea kayaking, and road tripping all over Alaska while leading Scout programs.

We understand how important the Scouts are and we also understand the financial burden of any extracurricular on a family. That is why we immediately implemented a Scout discount. We also immediately started reaching out to local Boy Scout troops and hosting presentations, demonstrations, pack shakedowns, and merit badges. RRT wanted to reach out and assure that the troops had the information and resources they would need.

Joe and Bryan have taught at the University of Scouting since 2012, hosting up to six classes to prepare leaders of all levels. RRT has also had a presence at Peterloon since 2012, teaching through survival games and giveaways. Looking for more ways to help financially, we started two new programs in 2012: the 10+5 Program as well as a boot trade in program.

The 10+5 program offers registered troops an automatic same-day 10% discount, but also creates a troop account to cut back on additional expenses the troop has, there-in cutting back on the additional financial burden on families. RRT takes an additional 5% of all troop purchases and creates a spending account for the troop use. Successful troops have cashed in on new stoves, filters, and tents at no expense to the troop.

Moving forward, RRT hopes to grow the boot program that offers a more affordable footwear option for growing Boy Scouts and an avenue for reselling the used footwear. If you or your troop would like to register for 10+5 or need more information on how RRT can help your troop, please contact us at rrt@roadsriversandtrails.com. For more information on the Boy Scouts, please visit their website:

Boy Scouts of America

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Camping and Education Foundation

The Camping and Education Foundation

The Camping and Education Foundation was one of RRT’s first community partners. The Foundation would hold occasional meetings in RRT’s lounge and have RRT owner Emily sit in for feedback. The relationship grew and so did RRT’s involvement with the Foundation, from silent auction donations to working directly with the kids.

The Foundation started to work with local schools like Gamble Montessori along with attendees of Stepping Stones to provide an educational outdoor experience. This experience would include a canoe trip along the Ohio River provided by The Wilderness Inquiry as well as educational stations at city parks along the way. From 2012 to 2014, RRT store owner Bryan would dedicate a week to volunteering with the students in this program. Bryan would set up tents, show them how to purify water using a pump, cook using a backpacker’s stove, and of course he would bring dehydrated meals and ice cream bars for the kids to try afterward. The lesson often ended with each child taking a swing in the hammock.

This has been one of the most rewarding things that I’ve done through RRT” recalls Bryan. “It is amazing to see their excitement to simply crawl into a tent”. It is this kind of experience that drives RRT. Roads Rivers and Trails looks forward to future activities and events that the Foundation holds and to being a lifelong partner. For more information on the Camping and Education Foundation please visit the link below:

Camping and Education Foundation

Read “From the Beginning” Blog

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Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition

The more we personally visit the Red, the more in love with it we become. This place captivates all of its visitors, both hiker and climber alike. We all enjoy the break from the city, where the skies shine bright with stars, the wind and rain have been allowed to carve the landscape, and the true beauty of nature surrounds you. For the adventure seeker it is often the first place we point out for your next weekend jaunt and for the climber it is where to find world class climbing at all levels. The gorge is unique and breathe-taking. It is also precious, delicate, and sometimes dangerous.

It is important to educate the people who want to enjoy these areas and to work our best to provide safe, reliable, and sustainable solutions to our outdoor recreation. That is why RRT makes a strong effort to support the Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition. The Coalition focuses on exactly that.

RRT has been a member of the RRGCC since 2015. We support the coalition with our yearly sponsorship and attendance and promotion of their annual Rocktoberfest fundraiser. Still, we wanted to do more for this organization and broaden our fundraising. That is why that same year we designed and created a series of shirts and stickers that celebrate the Red but also have a portion of proceeds that continually contribute to the RRGCC. If you love the Red like we do, I think you’ll appreciate the design and the mission. You can currently find shirts and stickers at RRT, J&H Outfitters, and Quest Outdoors.

Our fundraising efforts and sponsorship has totaled over $4,000 in contributions so far. If you want to learn more about the RRGCC or their Rocktoberfest festival (which is amazing!) please click the link below:

Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition

Read “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Red River Gorge”

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