Changing the fabric of outdoor retailing
For us, the outdoors is everything. It’s work, it’s play, it’s in our DNA. Put simply, we’d be lost without it. That’s why we want to do everything we can to look after it for generations to come. How? By minimising our impact on the environment, actively protecting the places we love, and helping everyone to enjoy the outdoors in a sustainable way. We’re working towards a more circular economy that’s better for the great outdoors and everyone who enjoys exploring it, too.
Our 3-year goals
It’s no secret that climate change and unsustainable lifestyles are devastating the environment and the outdoor places we love to explore. It’s playing havoc with the seasons, polluting wild places, damaging ecosystems and depleting natural resources. In short, it’s changing the outdoors as we know it and we need to do something about it. The task is huge, and we can’t do it alone, but we must take responsibility and do our bit to protect the outdoors.
But there’s more to protecting the outdoors than meets the eye. We’re taking a multi-dimensional approach to avoid neglecting one aspect in favour of another, and to make sure we’re looking at this in a truly sustainable way.
Our 3-year sustainability strategy takes a holistic approach to some of the key issues within the outdoor industry:
Caring for the Outdoors
On top of this, we want to actively support projects that protect the outdoors, to extend the positive impact we can have beyond just our own business to our customers, our suppliers, brands and partners. Our journey to becoming a more sustainable business is a long one - one we have only just begun – and each day will come with new challenges and a chance for us to learn and grow. The path won’t always be smooth, straight-forward, or even clear, but we promise to always try our best and be transparent every step of the way.
Our commitment to the outdoors
By the end of 2022, we as an organisation want to:
Prioritise sustainable fashion
- Establish a repair & care service to make the products you already own last longer
- Help all customers recycle their kit with us to close the loop
- Aim for 80% of our products to be recyclable, made from recycled materials, or from a brand with strong sustainable credentials
- Collaborate with our brands to establish a sustainability compliance scheme
- Provide a sustainability rating for our best-selling products
Reduce our carbon footprint
- Run our business on 100% renewable energy
- Reduce our energy requirements by 30%
- Reduce our travel carbon footprint within our business by 50%
- Become carbon neutral
- Help our customers to reduce their carbon footprint when enjoying the outdoors
Wake up to waste
- Repurpose or recycle all aftersale stock, so zero stock goes to landfill
- Reduce our own waste generation by 25%
- Achieve a 100% recycling rate for recyclable materials across our business
- Eliminate of single-use plastics throughout our business where better alternatives are available
- Collaborate with our brands & suppliers to find innovative alternatives for single-use plastics in packaging
- Use recycled plastics and ensure a 100% recycling rate, where no better alternative is available
Keep it wild
- Help every employee to dedicate one working day a year to an environmental project
- Offer a greener pension fund to our employees
- Planted 10,000 trees in partnership with the National Trust
Being a more sustainable business doesn’t happen overnight, and the journey looks different for everyone. Though progress may be slow and victories small, we’re proud of every step we make to becoming a more sustainable business. Here’s what we’ve achieved so far:
A journey shared
Our brands are perhaps the only people who love the outdoors as much as we all do and, like us, they want to protect it too. We’re working closely with all our brands to help change the outdoor industry for the better and create a more sustainable shopping experience for all. Here are a few who are leading the way in creating kit that looks good and does good too.
Join us on our journey
We’re trying to do our bit for the planet, but we can’t do it without you, our outdoor community. We’re in this together and we want to help you enjoy the outdoors in a more sustainable way. So, here’s a little inspiration from us to help get you started.
We all want to do our bit to protect the environment for future generations, and the best place to start is with better, more sustainable choices in clothing. To help you do that, here's our pick of the brands we work with doing their bit for the planet, with sustainable products and some serious charity credentials, too.
Patagonia are the first in the industry to make all shell jackets with recycled materials, and sew them all in Fair Trade Certified Factories – and we think that’s pretty great. So we’re celebrating Patagonia’s commitment to sustainability without compromise on performance, and their relentless push to save our home planet. Shell, Yeah!
Our Work In More Detail
Want to find out more about our work towards becoming a more sustainable business? You’ve come to the right place.
Sustainable Outdoor Products
What we've done so far
• Launched Ayacucho brand in 2009 to support local communities and businesses in Peru, India and Kenya, working with Solid International foundation that works to combat global poverty and support sustainable community development.
• Launched the Recycle My Run program, encouraging customers to return and repurpose their old trainers when purchasing new ones.
What we’re working on now
• Changed our buying directive to have 80% of our products recycled, recyclable or by a brand that supports the outdoors in another way
• Repair & Care
• Recycle Your Gear – making outdoor retailing truly circular
• Implement a “Sustainability” filter on our websites to make it easier for you to find sustainable products
What we want to do in future
• Uniform code of conduct regarding environmental and sustainability practices for all our suppliers and brands
• Create a scoring metric for the environmental impact of products we sell
What we've done so far
• Changed to 98% renewable energy
• Added electric car charging stations to our parking lot
• Participating in the Cycle to Work Scheme to enable our employees to travel to and from work in a carbon neutral manner
What we’re working on now
• Setting up Carbon Footprint measuring with the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) to help us calculate our current carbon footprint and identify the next biggest areas of reduction
What we want to do in future
• Reduce total energy consumption of our total business (Stores, Head Office, Warehouse) by 25%
• Cut our travel footprint by 50%
• Establish an offset program that works with local charities to reforest natural woodlands
Waste & Pollution
What we've done so far
• Joined the EOG Single-Use Plastic initiative to find solutions to plastic in our supply chain together with brands and manufacturers
• Switched to 80-90% recycled cardboard which is currently the maximum amount of recycled material that enables a still structurally sound cardboard box
• Changed our mail order bags to 100% recycled saving 30 tonnes of virgin plastic each year, using minimal ink to conserve as much of the resource for future recycling (i.e. minimise contamination)
• Printer settings to double-sided, black and white, toner saving
• Changed our online order invoices to 100% recycled and minimal ink
• Removed single use plastic cups from the business
What we’re working on now
• Water refill stations in our stores so our customers can cut down on their single-use plastic bottles
• Audit of our waste generation and downstream waste management to identify where we can improve our recycling rates
What we want to do in future
• Achieve 100% recycling rates for all recyclable waste we generate
• Achieve a 25% cut in the waste we generate
Keeping It Wild
What we've done so far
• Together with our customers we have planted 10,000 trees with the National Trust helping to reforest native woodlands in Devon
What we’re working on now
• Implementing the 1 Day for the Planet initiative for our employees
What we want to do in future
• Greener Pensions for all our employees
• Continue educating our customers to live more sustainable outdoor lifestyles
• Continue supporting local woodland reforestation programs to fight loss of biodiversity and climate change
January 2009: Ayacucho® brand is launched to support local communities and businesses in Peru, India and Kenya
Working together with Solid International, a private foundation that sets up projects to combat global poverty, we are investing in sustainable community development to provide local people with knowledge, ownership and control of their own lives. Since 2009, every product from the Ayacucho® collection that is sold generates new funds for existing projects and new initiatives, and supports local communities and businesses ensuring fair wages, better working conditions, and environmentally-friendly products. Ayacucho® clothing and equipment is designed with a focus on responsible, careful sourcing and modern-day technological advancement, offering a welcome combination of sustainability, comfort and style. You can find out more about Ayacucho® and our work with Solid International here.
September 2017: Recycle My Run campaign is launched (Runners Need only) allowing people to recycle their old running shoes
Ever wondered what happens to old trainers when they get worn out and replaced? Unfortunately, in many cases they go straight to landfill, which is why we launched Recycle my Run back in 2017. Working with the European Recycling Company, part of the SOEX Group, the project helps people to recycle their old running shoes and reduce the impact of shoe waste, diverting them from landfill and allowing them to be reuses or recycled where possible. Creating employment opportunities and providing footwear to those less fortunate. Recycle my Run ‘shoe bins’ are available in all our Runners Need stores for people to drop off their old shoes with the added incentive of money off a new pair. Find out more here.
February 2018: Single-use plastic bags are replaced with paper bags in-store
Since the introduction of the carrier bag in shops across the UK, we’ve all become more aware of single-use plastic and have been encouraged to reuse our bags and bring our own to the shops whenever possible. But what’s better than plastic carrier bags? Paper bags of course! These bags also carry a charge because the ultimate aim is still to encourage customers to bring their own reusable bags and not purchase a new one every time. But, for those times when you leave your reusable bag at home or end up buying more than you intended (we’ve all been there!), all our stores offer paper bags at an additional cost. We’re currently working on some new carrier bag designs, which will be even more eco-friendly than ever before, so watch this space!
May 2018: All single-use plastic cups are banned across the business
There was a time when almost every office across the UK had water dispensers available to its staff, complete with disposable plastic cups. We even had them in some of our stores to help keep thirsty customers quench their thirst. But whilst we want everyone to stay hydrated whether they’re working or shopping with us, single-use plastic cups are simply no good. We still provide water dispensers in our offices and stores, but all plastic cups have been removed and instead, we encourage customers and colleagues to bring their own reusable cup or bottle to drink from. And if you’re in one of our stores without a bottle, we’ve got plenty on offer for you to choose from. Keep an eye out for exciting new projects around refill stations, coming to our stores in 2020!
April 2019: Sustainability Team is officially launched
As sustainability grew more important within our business, it became clear that we needed a dedicated team to help us continue our journey and achieve our goals. We now have a devoted working group who, in addition to their day jobs, volunteer their time and energy to help make us a more sustainable business. They work together on various projects and initiatives across all areas of our business, fighting the good fight and encouraging everyone else within our business and the industry to do the same.
July 2019: Black shrink wrap is replaced by plastic flat strips, cutting down warehouse plastic by over 90%
Every day, thousands of products are delivered into our warehouse, most of them in boxes on pallets. Most of these used to arrive wrapped in black shrink wrap, to help protect them from water damage and other knocks during transit. However, this shrink wrap wasn’t recyclable and contributed to a huge amount of our plastic waste each year. We’ve worked hard to reduce plastic waste in the warehouse and one of the ways we did this was to replace plastic shrink wrap with plastic flat strips instead, cutting down on warehouse plastic by 90%.
August 2019: First stock donations to our new charity partner
One of the biggest problems in fashion and retail is what happens to old or unsold stock. Historically, lots of businesses have been called out for the amount of stock they send to landfill and in improving our own processes, we wanted to do something positive with our excess stock. That’s why in August 2019, we started donating our unsold gear to charity, in particular those who otherwise wouldn’t have access to this kind of kit. This includes Jamie’s Farm, who run outdoor sessions for inner-city youth, to help them connect with the outdoors and gains skills they would otherwise miss out on.
October 2019: Business runs on 98% renewable energy
A simple switch an make the world of difference. In October 2019, we made some changes to our energy suppliers and are pleased to say that our business currently runs on 98% renewable energy. But there’s always more that can be done, and we won’t rest until that last 2% is renewable too. Better still, we want to reduce our overall energy usage by at least 30% and reduce our carbon footprint by 50%, with the ultimate goal of becoming a carbon neutral business. It’s pretty ambitious, but if we want to make a real difference to the future of our planet, we have to think big.
November 2019: Invoices changed to recycled paper
Every day, we send out hundreds/thousands of paper invoices with our online orders, essential for letting our customers know what they’ve bought and providing them with returns information too. We’re sure our customers do what they can to recycle unwanted paper invoices, but we wanted to do more to reduce the environmental impact of our invoicing. Now, all our invoices are printed on recycled paper, which is in turn recyclable, creating a much more circular economy and a sustainable way of working.
January 2020: Virgin plastic online order bags replaced by 100% recycled bags
For a long time, we shipped our online orders in virgin plastic bags, something which we were very keen to change as online demand continues to grow. After much research and deliberation, we decided on 100% recycled plastic bags, which can be returned and recycled in our stores. We looked at lots of different options, including paper, but recycled plastic was the best sustainable option for us and most importantly, helps to keep your kit in mint condition throughout the delivery process.
February 2020: Whole business switches to recycled paper and default print settings are changed to reduce ink, paper and energy usage
Becoming a more sustainable business isn’t just about what we do in-store or online, but day-to-day in our workplaces too. In February 2020, the whole business switched to using recycled paper and our default print settings were changed to reduce ink, paper and energy usage. This includes using black and white, double-sided printing wherever possible and introducing a new policy in meeting rooms, encouraging the last person who leaves a room to switch off lights, aircon and any electronics too. The little things make all the difference.
Frequently Asked Questions
What about the impact of shipping on the environment?
Shipping to and from our warehouse and in and out of our stores is unavoidable, especially in the age of online delivery. But we are trying to do everything we can to mitigate the impact of transporting our products, including reducing the number of vehicles we’re putting out on the roads, changing our logistics provider to help us reduce our carbon footprint, and encouraging our brands to send stock to us in a few deliveries as possible. When we deliver to your door, we try to group orders into single deliveries wherever possible and ask our customers to avoid placing multiple, separate orders and instead order everything at once, so that only one delivery journey has to be made.
How do we hold ourselves accountable?
There are lots of ways we can be held accountable for what we say or do, especially when it comes to sustainability. It’s starts within our own business, with more people showing an active interest in environmental issues and concerning themselves with the environmental impact of what we do as a business. Our sustainability team do a great job of reminding us all that we have goals to achieve, milestones to hit and a commitment to protecting the outdoors which can’t be ignored. We’re also held accountable by our brands, especially those who are leading the way when it comes to sustainable outdoor gear. They remind us that there is always more to be done, but also that so much can be done if we all work together. They inspire us and help us to see what is possible when it comes to sustainability. Finally – and perhaps most importantly – it’s our customers who hold us accountable for the promises we make. Now more than ever, consumers are making purchasing decisions based on a brand’s sustainability credentials and since we know our customers love the outdoors just as much as we do, it’s in all our interests to hold each other accountable and work together to protect the outdoor places we enjoy.
How can we be sustainable with so many brands to manage?
We’re proud to stock so many fantastic brands who share our passion for helping people to stay active outdoors. But whilst we might share the same values in some areas, we might not always agree on others. However, sustainability is and will continue to be important to us, and brands who wish to continue working with us need to show that they’re also committed to protecting the outdoors. So many of our brands are already doing fantastic work and are leading the way in producing sustainable outdoor apparel, whilst others are just starting out on their journey. We’re not going to stop stocking quality brands we love just because they’re not the most sustainable, but we’re upping the ante when it comes to our environmental expectations and we expect our brands to show us what they’re doing to make a difference each season. Because if we want to keep on enjoying the great outdoors, we all need to work together to protect it.
Why are we still using plastic mail order bags?
We thought long and hard about our mail order bags and spent a lot of time researching the best options when reviewing our packaging. Although plastic certainly wasn’t our first choice, once we got into the detail and started comparing paper with plastic, we discovered that as a business, the most sustainable option for us was 100% recycled and recyclable plastic. It also allows to recycle the bags ourselves and keep an eye on our progress, by asking customers to return them to store to be recycled. Unfortunately, the plastic packaging of individual products is largely unrecycled and much more difficult to recycle. As this comes from our brands, it’s more challenging for us to make changes here, but we’re doing what we can to encourage them to improve the sustainability of their packaging in the future.
What happens to our returned/faulty stock?
We’re pleased to say that as of <date> none of our returned, faulty or unsold stock goes to landfill. We’re working with charity organisations to redistribute our stock to those who need it most, making sure to preserve the integrity of our brands by doing what we can to make sure the products are used as they were intended – in the great outdoors.
How do we decide which products to stock and do we rate these based on sustainability?
We have a comprehensive buying strategy, led by industry experts and outdoor fanatics, who are not only always on the lookout for the best products that look great and perform brilliantly, they’re also paying more attention to sustainability too. We work with lots of brands who are leading the way when it comes to sustainable kit, and lots more who are just getting started. It’s no secret that the outdoor industry still has a long way to go, but with retailers like us placing more emphasis on sustainability when it comes to products, we hope things will continue to improve and change for the better.
How are we promoting sustainability within our workplace and practicing what we preach at head office and in store? (e.g. how people are commuting, energy usage etc)
We’ve introduced lots of initiatives within the workplace, to encourage our workforce to practice what we preach and make us a sustainable business from the inside out. All our head office and store locations are run entirely on renewable energy, our default print settings are always black and white, and we have removed all disposable plastic cups from our water dispensers, encouraging all employees to bring their own reusable cup or bottle to work. We’re also working on a car share scheme, to help reduce the number of cars we’re contributing to the road and have friendly but firm (!) signage around our buildings to remind staff to turn off lights when they leave an empty room and to turn off their electricals overnight wherever possible.
Is our parent group also committed to our sustainability goals? How are they supporting us?
Our parent company, A.S. Adventure, are in the process of developing a group-wide sustainability programme, supported by and in support of our own journey. We know that if we want to make a real difference, it’s not enough for us alone to make these changes. We need to encourage a more sustainable approach across the industry, and for us that means into Europe and beyond.
Do you have any products that are vegan friendly?
Yes! As demand for kit that’s free of animal products increases, we’re working with our brands to stock a range that meet everyone’s ethical choices. Some examples include synthetic insulation rather than down, recycled down and wool (for those happy to wear animal-derived materials already in the system), and vegan footwear such as Scarpa’s Maverick, Veloce and Velocity models. In addition, we also have hundreds of other products which are completely free from animal derivatives and suitable for those who love the outdoors and animals too!
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