I have to confess that I love outdoor gear and have bought my fair share of it over the years, using the various adventures I went on to justify my purchases.
However, it turns out that outdoor products, particularly outdoor clothing, are significant contributors to chemical and micro plastic pollution, and are harming the very environments they were designed for.
Materials in outdoor clothing often contain PFC’s (perfluorinated chemicals) in order to make them waterproof or stain resistant. These are released into the environment at various stages of the product’s life cycle: during manufacture; when they’re washed; and when they’re disposed of.
These chemicals are a type of POP (persistent organic pollutant); they last for years in the environment and accumulate in the fatty tissues of the organisms that ingest them, getting progressively more concentrated as they move up the food chain.
This is a big deal, as they can cause a number of problems in animals such as cancer, reproductive problems, immune suppression and impaired nervous system functioning.
In the past I’ve always tried to buy the best quality gear I could afford. As a result I’ve got some outdoor clothing that has been used and abused for almost twenty years! I used to congratulate myself for not buying into the need to have the latest models or this seasons colours, however a product’s longevity, whilst important, is clearly not enough.
So now, if I genuinely need a new bit of outdoor gear, in addition to buying a quality product that lasts, I now try and buy stuff with the least ecological footprint, which to me means:
- buying from ethical companies with genuine green credentials
- avoiding clothing with PFC’s
- choosing natural fibres whenever possible
Good companies will also repair your damaged gear at minimal cost so you’re not forced into replacing it unnecessarily.
Clearly no company is perfect and every product has a negative environmental impact to some degree, however I’ve found that the following brands stand out as leaders in producing more sustainable products:
So if and when I post reviews of outdoor products, they’ve been chosen not only for their performance, but also for their (hopefully) lesser environmental impact.
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