Roads Rivers and Trails

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Monthly Archives: August 2016


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!

Base Camp Baking

Beer Batter Quiche

Ingredients:

½ an onion

1 ½ whole carrots

Few cloves of garlic

1 (12 oz) bottle of pale ale

1 pound of bacon

10 eggs

½ cup Whipping Cream

Pie Crust

Cheddar cheese

 

Start by dicing the onions rather small along with carrots. Brown the onions with garlic before adding the carrots. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once caramelized add a full beer. Simmer until liquid is evaporated then set aside and cool. In the meantime, fry up some bacon. I like mine extra crispy, this makes crumbling the bacon easier. Again, once finished set aside. Finally, the quiche batter. Crack the eggs and add some heavy whipping cream to it with salt and pepper. Beat the eggs and cream until combined.

For convenience sake (at work) I used pre-packaged pie crust for the quiche dough. However, quiche dough/ pie crust is very easy to make. Once these are made and prepped they are ready for the basecamp baking show.

Bake the crust slightly before adding the other ingredients. This will make it nice and crispy as opposed to soggy. Then layer the cheese, bacon, onion-carrot-beer mix, and pour the quiche batter on top. It takes about 20 minutes for the quiche to be cooked all the way through. Pick it up and shake slightly, if there is any hint of jiggles, bake a little longer. Depending on appetite, serving size for this is between 6 and 8 bellies (out of a 12 quart Dutch oven). ENJOY!

 

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Mmm, look at all of those goodies!

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Dice up the onions and carrots pretty small.

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Time to add a little color to these onions…

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&& add the carrots.

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Nice and caramelized.

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Everything tastes a little better with some beer.

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Liquid is dissipating from vegetable concoction and bacon is sizzling.

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Storage.

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Crispy bacon being broken down into bacon bits.

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*Oink, oink*

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Eggs and whipping cream…

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All mixed together.

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All you need in your base camp pantry, ready to go.

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Line the bottom and about an inch high with pie crust/ quiche dough.

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Build your fire. Doesn’t have to be large, just need some hot coals.

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Looking good and baking the pie crust at the same time.

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DON’T OVER BAKE IT! It’s going back in on the hot coals.

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The layer of cheese.

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Layering bacon.

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Layering onion-carrot-beer mix.

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Finger licking goodness.

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Pouring the quiche batter over the layers of yumyum. Don’t pour in one spot. Move it around as you pour.

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Make sure not to fill over the crust!

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&&BAKE.

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Waiting is the worst part of this game.

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Almost done! Don’t check it too often. When you do the heat escapes and it cooks slower.

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&& It is finished. Enjoy!

Trouble shooting: I baked the crust for about 5 minutes and that was too long. It ended up getting a little roasty toasty on the bottom as I waited for the quiche to bake completely. Also I highly suggest making an olive oil dough or preparing a homemade pie crust for the shell instead of using pre-packaged ones from the store. It tastes much better, is cheaper in the long run, and doesn’t require much extra labor. If using an olive oil dough, it does not require the pre-bake step that the pie crust does. However, it will have a texture similar to a soft bread rather than a flaky crust.

 

oe.

Return of the SLOBO: Fear is the Mind Killer

In less than a week, yours truly, Goatman, will step back onto the Appalachian Trail to finish the last 969 miles of a thru-hike that began in 2013 with a 1200+ mile trek. The time for planning, prepping, training, and ruminating is over. And good riddance.

I know this may come as no surprise to many of you that know me, but you may as well stamp “Type B Personality” on my forehead. Making lists upon lists, worrying about details, lusting after improvement: not my style. Luckily for me, the AT isn’t an expedition. Nor is it a race, or a chore, or a job. And that’s what makes it so great. The AT is an adventure. Look that up in the dictionary.

Having read the other installments of the Return of the SLOBO series, you may think I really have everything together. Surely, a man conceited enough to presume to tell you how go on a very personal, very emotional adventure should himself be a shining example of the Fully Prepared Backpacker. Welcome to reality: I have no idea what is coming. Having hiked long-distance before, I know only one thing to be true: the trail teaches what needs knowing and nothing but putting feet to dirt is going to help you in the end.

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Disconcerting? For some, I suppose. We are raised with the idea in mind that knowledge is inherently important to a task. I would argue that wisdom trumps knowledge a majority of the time. Knowing that you have 17.8 miles until you camp for the night and that water is 5.2 into the hike tells you very little about how your day is going to go. The elevation charts in the guide books are convenient fantasies and often misleading. It never rains for days on paper.

Am I saying to throw the guidebook off a cliff, sell your bag to a bear, and head off into the Great Unknown with only your cunning and sturdy stick to keep you safe? Or course not (okay, sometimes I get in a mood and say exactly that, but don’t listen to me all of the time. It’s bad for you.) I still stand by everything I said in the early articles concerning physical and mental training, buying gear that keeps your safe, happy, and moving, etc. All good ideas. Unfortunately, they are only that. Ideas. So you read the articles with good intentions in your heart, but now it’s go time and you didn’t hike as much as you wanted before setting out, your legs aren’t in the best shape they could be, you took some last minute things and now your pack is heavier than you wanted, and your mind is scattered and racing worrying about all of the “What Ifs”. Now what? Do you cancel your plans? Do you say, “Maybe next year”? Do you justify an existence in which your dreams are not manifested into reality?

Hell no.

goat2You hit the trail. And you hike. And you get stronger and smarter and more wise everyday. Suddenly, you’re hiking the AT and you’ve done a week and you’re still scared, more tired than you’ve ever been, and still not so sure you’re ready for all of this. And then you hike for another week and realize that you are as strong as you want to be, that exhaustion is uplifting if related to a purpose, and that no one is ready for this! And then you hike for another week.

Excuses make terrible hiking partners.

In the end, trails are for hiking, not analyzing.  I cannot wait to shut my silly mouth, strap up, and go. The next time you hear from me, I’ll have some good stories for you, I’m sure, and I’ll be sharing some here if I can.

See you out there.

-Goatman

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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!

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