Every product has an environmental and social footprint. At Pike to Peak, we understand how outdoor brands try to minimize their footprint and make more sustainable products to not only promote a healthier environment, but also the well-being of animals and workers who make the outdoor gear and clothing we know and love.
Whether it’s your down sleeping bag or jacket, your wool baselayer, or your leather hiking boots, most of our clothing and gear are derived from animals. While that may not be ideal, there are ways you can ensure that the animals were well-treated and sustain a healthy environment. There are three certifications given to clothing derived from animals.
Responsible Down Standard (RDS)
This ensures humane practices are followed in raising the ducks and geese that provide down for gear like jackets, sleeping bags and more. It also bans cruel practices, such as force-feeding.
Responsible Wool Standard (RWS)
This certification ensures that the sheep that produced the wool in your clothing were raised on farms that follow humane practices and promote ecological health. It also bans mulesing, a painful practice intended to ward off parasites.
Leather Working Group (LWG)
While this group doesn’t monitor the humane treatment of animals, it does monitor the environmental management practices of producers of leather for footwear and other products. LWG auditors give leather suppliers a grade of “Gold,” “Silver,” “Bronze” or “Pass” for their environmental stewardship practices.
*There are also some clothing and gear that is classified as vegan and organic.
Organically Grown Cotton
Cotton is grown in two ways: conventionally and organically. As you can probably assume, organically grown cotton has a far lighter environmental footprint (and fewer carbon emissions) than conventionally grown cotton. Farms that grow organic cotton are required to follow practices that promote a healthy environment (of soil and water), as well as promote water and energy conservation. They are also not allowed to use synthetic pesticides and herbicides.
While you probably see this more often in the coffee and food industry, Fair Trade is actually a broad term for programs that promote sustainable livelihoods and safe working conditions for farmers and workers. It also promotes environmental protection and community empowerment. Fair Trade can be applied to a product’s ingredients, as well as note that the factory or sewing process complies with their standards.
Recycling is quickly becoming “cool and popular”, and turning towards a big sustainability success. Using recycled materials such as plastic bottles to produce polyester (and sometimes nylon) for a variety of clothing and gear helps cut down on the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills. It also lessens our need for raw materials and requires less energy and water, another added bonus.
Bluesign® is a system operates to minimize the environmental impact and prevent harmful substances from entering the production process. The team is made up of experts in chemistry and textile production, as well as a system of factory auditing. The bluesign® system is based on five principles: resource productivity, consumer safety, water emission, air emission, and occupational health and safety. Instead of testing a finished product, bluesign® is applied when production starts, ensuring that all substances and raw materials are verified (promoting environmental health, conservation, and pollution control without the use of chemicals).
If not under these standards, most of our brands also belong to other environmental alliances and certifications. For example, The North Face is a member of The Conservation Alliance, whose mission is to engage businesses to fund and partner with organizations to protect wild places for their habitat and recreation values. Most of our brands are also certified and use efficient water and energy, have inspected and regulated working conditions, as well as recycled and recyclable packaging, and use sustainable materials.Remember to be smart and Protect Our Lands!