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Brands With Heart: Socially & Environmentally Conscious Companies We Love
As an outdoor retailer, our mission here at Wild Rock has always been to encourage more folks to get outdoors to enjoy our community and the natural playground that surrounds us. We take that mission seriously, and mitigating the environmental, social and cultural impact of our business is an essential component of how we operate.
The brands we sell play a key role in that mission. It can be hard to find the right gear to appreciate the outdoors without degrading the very thing you love. You probably know cheap gear is false economy because it breaks or wears out three times faster, but there’s more to the story than just durability. We work hard to bring in brands that are dedicated to environmental and social responsibility at their very core.
You’ve probably heard about some of the well-known eco initiatives by brands like Patagonia. But many of the companies we carry at Wild Rock are making impressive efforts towards ethical practices and we think they deserve a shout-out. Here are six socially and environmentally conscious brands that treat “ethical” as more than a buzzword.
Peak Design specializes in travel bags and camera gear with top-to-bottom, start-to-finish zeal. The majority of their products use a 100% recycled nylon and polyester shell, and all come with a lifetime guarantee. Additionally, the company commits to refurbishing broken items to keep them out of landfills. They also regularly audit the factories they use to ensure worker safety and fair pay, but don’t just take their word for it — Peak Design is a Certified B Corp, meaning they follow an international standard of social and environmental accountability. They’re Climate Neutral Certified, according to the independent non-profit they helped found, and through 1% for the Planet donate a portion of all proceeds to environmental organizations like the Conservation Alliance, Save the Waves Coalition, and Earth Guardians. If you’re looking for a more committed accessory company, you’ll be looking a long time.
For every pair of Oboz sold, this Bozeman, Montana-based footwear company plants a tree through the organization Trees for the Future. They also donate factory seconds to non-profits that shoe the needy, and carbon offset all product shipments and employee travel. Did we mention their office is powered with wind energy? We feel even more comfortable stocking their rugged hiking boots knowing that.
You might wonder how much a simple belt can be optimized for the outdoors - but if you do, you’ve probably never been caught wearing a leather belt in a rainstorm. According to the company, “each Arcade belt is built to perform equally well from climbing, skating, snowboarding and skiing to biking or fishing.” They achieve that versatility using stretch materials and simple but durable buckles, micro-adjustable for perfect fitting. The enviro-conscious company incorporates natural rubber and renewable fibres to reduce their impact. They also run initiatives like their annual “White Friday” sale, a Black Friday alternative that sees $5 of every purchase donated to the fight against climate change.
UNITED BY BLUE
“For every product purchased, United by Blue removes one pound of trash from oceans and waterways.” That’s added up to over two million pounds of trash removed so far by apparel company United by Blue, a certified B Corp since 2011. Their stylish clothing is made from sustainable materials like hemp and organic cotton, as well as less-familiar products like corozo (so called “vegetable ivory,” a 100% biodegradable material made from the nut of the tagua palm often used for buttons). With other products like packs made from recycled water bottles, the ingenuity of this Philadelphia-based company shows no sign of slowing down.
The first time you wear BUFF neckwear — or a “multifunctional tubular,” if you prefer — is a gamechanger. Less bulky than a scarf, more comfortable than zipping a jacket up to your chin, it’s perfect for active activities like skiing because it fits easily in a pocket and can be adjusted on the fly. The technology powering their products is forward-thinking as well, incorporating recycled fibres and sustainable fabrics like merino wool. The company is also an active supporter of conservation projects, contributing to projects like beach cleanups in Greece, habitat restoration in Catalonia, and invasive species control in Wales.
Vermont-based Darn Tough commits and commits hard to its American-made ethos: they design, test, and manufacture all their socks in their Northfield, VT facility, and unconditionally guarantee them for life. The family-owned company also monitors animal welfare and sustainable land management practices when sourcing their Merino wool. That the end product is incredibly comfortable is the icing on the cake.