Sustainable Choices: Buy Quality, Make It Last

Our outdoor experts Tom, Aileen, Magda and Szabi, have a lifetime’s worth of experience in the outdoors between them. They’re also passionate about protecting it and helping our customers make the right choice when it comes to their kit. Here they share their expert tips and discuss the importance of exploring sustainably, investing in quality kit that lasts, and the environmental benefits of prolonging the life of the kit you love.



Tom Parkin

Store Manager

Cotswold Outdoor Harrogate



Aileen King

Core Expert

Cotswold Outdoor South Cerney


Szabi Bandli

Store Manager

Cotswold Outdoor Islington


Magda Nikitczuk

Store Manager

Cotswold Outdoor Kingston

What does sustainability mean to you?

Tom: Sustainability is really important, and I think it’s something many of us are just waking up to. We’ve been living in a disposable culture for so long that it might feel a bit alien, but it’s so important that we get on board with it. For me, sustainability is about looking after what we’ve got for future generations. 


Aileen: When I was younger, nobody talked about sustainability, and sometimes I feel quite ashamed of my generation because we still don’t talk about it. People can be sceptical, but we already know some of the effects of climate change, and we can’t ignore it. We have to have a future planet. When I talk to younger people, they are so switched on to it, and we have to listen and take care of our futures. 


Magda: It depends because you could think about the sustainability of what you actually do outdoors, or the sustainability of the products you’re using, or the aftercare products for the kit you’re buying. There are so many ways to think about sustainability. But sustainability means a lot, and I think more than we can imagine right now. It’s our future so something we all need to think about. Sustainability, I would say is about awareness.


Szabi: For me, sustainability means protecting nature, protecting the outdoors. It’s that simple really. 



What changes are you making in your own lives to protect the places you love?

Tom: I think the biggest thing that we can do right now is to help educate each other, especially those new to wild places in the UK and make sure that everything we do is sustainable, or as sustainable as possible, so that we can look after it. 


Aileen: I do my utmost now to do what’s right. I look at what I’m throwing away, and I make sure I recycle. Equally, with my kit, I look after it properly. Yeah, the sole will wear out eventually, but I don’t want to be replacing my boot sooner than I need to just by neglect. I think even the little part I’m playing making sure my kit is looked after – it’s washed, it’s treated, so it has a longer life - means I won’t be putting it into landfill. 


Szabi: Magda and I often carry a big bin bag on our adventures and try to pick up everything we can find that doesn’t belong there. We collect a lot of rubbish, mainly plastic bottles that have been left behind on the trail. I think we have to respect the outdoors because what nature built over millions of years we’re destroying in a century at the moment. 




How do you try to encourage customers to make the right choice with their kit?

Tom: Sustainable choices are sensible choices. The best way to make your outdoor kit more sustainable is to make the right choice by investing in a quality product in the first place and then looking after it as best you can. It will pay you back. Having the right kit is also important because if it isn’t fit for purpose, you’re not going to enjoy your trip, and the item will end up in landfill.  Sometimes people don’t realise how long kit can last if you look after it.


Repair & Care is a giant leap forward in sustainability for us. It might seem a bit odd that a retailer would look to make the products they’ve already sold last longer, but for me, it’s a win-win situation. Fewer products end up in landfill and customers get to enjoy their gear for longer in the outdoors. I make sure I wear my kit until the bitter end. I definitely get value for my money! 


Aileen: When customers come into the store, I try to educate them as much as I have been about how they can look after their kit. I make them aware that we can prolong the life of their products, be it clothing, tents, boots. We have to change people’s perception of just throwing things away after a year. It’s frightening to think about what's going into landfill, and that throwaway attitude can’t be right. We’ve got to find a way of extending the life of products, and if we can show customers who come into the store how to do so, then we must do it. We do. We have to.


Magda: Sometimes, it’s about telling customers the story behind each item and explaining the effort that goes into making it last longer or how it has is made more sustainably so that they can make informed choices. 


I think the care products probably would be the next step, because if you look after your boots and jackets that you take on every trip, then you're more likely to look after the outdoors in the same way, and it will last. Some of our customers have kit that has seen way more places than I’ve seen in my life! When you buy good gear and follow the care advice, it will survive many obstacles and won’t disappoint you.


The next step would be repair: if anything happens, we can help repair the product. Very often, it’s about asking the right questions. Are you sure this jacket can’t be revived? Are you sure these trousers can’t be reproofed? With Repair & Care, quite often, it’s possible to take it back to a new state. Or if it can’t, with Recycle My Gear, you can bring us your old boots, jackets, sleeping bag, and we can give a second life to the item. 


Szabi: I think explaining aftercare is essential when anyone buys a new product. I think the importance of keeping your gear running for a long time goes back to the environment. Every bit of kit has stories and memories from different places. One of my oldest items is a waterproof woolly hat. I bought it 22 years ago when I was preparing to go to Tatra, and it’s still going strong, although it's very sweaty!  When someone wants to buy cheap kit, I encourage them to invest in decent gear instead. Not only will it last much longer, but it's more sustainable because, for instance, a quality tent might last 15 years rather than a cheap one you can only use for two years before it's no longer up to the job.


Tom: If you’re looking to explore buying sustainable products in-store, the best thing to do would be to speak to a customer expert. We know which brands are actively pushing to be more sustainable in their production practices and can help to close that loop.





What does the future of the outdoors look like to you?

Tom: If I’m honest, the future of the outdoors looks uncertain. More and more people are enjoying the outdoors, which is absolutely fantastic, but we all need to know that we have a responsibility to look after it for future generations. We are making great progress in some areas, but I think we’ve got a long way to go. It’s just great that we’ve left basecamp.  


Through my involvement in my local community, from mountain rescue to the scouts, I'm hopeful for the future. If we can help everybody get along and better understand the outdoors. I think we all have an obligation to pass on knowledge to those who are yet to learn, and we have to keep doing what we’re doing to help people without judgement. If we can educate everybody about what the outdoors offers and how to look after it, then I’m hopeful for the future -that future's bright. 


Aileen: If the next generation embraces looking after the outdoor world, and I’m sure they will, then we can all look forward to a great time in the future. But we must look after it now, it’s not something that can be left to chance.


Magda: I hope people will look after the outdoors better and come to understand that hurting the outdoors is pretty much hurting themselves. I hope people become aware of what they can do to be more sustainable and pass this down to their children or future generations. Then I can see a bright future for the outdoors. 


Szabi: I think if people carry on like this, in 20 years, we won’t have any outdoors left. It makes me feel nervous because if we’re going to destroy nature and the outdoors, we’re going the ruin the chance to recharge ourselves.  I hope people are becoming more aware about the outdoors, and are following the golden rule of leaving no trace. I think it’s important for everyone because it’s a big team effort. We can only do this together. 




5 Sustainable Kit Tips

1. Get the right kit, first time around

Quality kit is only worth having if you’re actually using it. If it’s not right for the activities you need it for, you’ll end up not wearing it and buying something else instead. We’ll help you get exactly what you need, first time around. So you’ll have less of what you don’t need hanging around in your wardrobe or ending up in landfill.

2. Buy Quality

It’s better to invest in quality kit that lasts. The adage, ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ is even more true  when it comes to the outdoors. Buy quality kit and it will look after you in the most extreme conditions, year after year.

3. Make it Last

Even quality kit doesn’t remain perfect forever. It needs care and attention to keep it performing at its best. Make sure you extend the life of your kit by cleaning it regularly and using aftercare treatments so it spends more time adventuring with you and less time in landfill.

4. Repair

Accidents happen. It’s tough out there after all. But damaged or worn out kit doesn’t necessarily spell the end. Our Repair & Care service can get your beloved items back in the game so you can make more memories on new adventures.

5. Recycle

There comes a time when all things must end. Or does there? Even if your kit has gone beyond any state of repair, bring it to us and we’ll recycle it so it can be broken down and made into something new. There’s an afterlife after all. 

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