15 Outdoor Brands That Give Back
You guys, Earth Day is coming. But before you just dismiss me as another tree hugger, stick with me here. The truth is that I don’t know if I’ve ever been both so excited and so anxious for Earth Day. In elementary school, Earth Day wasn’t much different than any other day, like Pizza Day, except recess that day would involve the planting of a few seeds. Yet a couple decades later, and I find myself more passionate about the outdoors than ever. In 2018 it’s a feeling of stoke at the opportunities I have, but also concern, as I feel like there’s more at stake for our planet than ever before.
Yet amidst concern and apprehension, especially in America, where public lands, national parks, and the environment seem under such attack, I find myself encouraged. I’m so fortunate to live, work, and play in an outdoor space in which the very brands who make money off the outdoors, are also the brands doing the most for the planet. Take a peek into my closet and you’ll find a mash-up of clothing and apparel from brands helping make the world a better place, from companies planting trees for every purchase to others making shorts from coconut husks to others supporting national parks projects with every purchase.
So being such an outdoor lover, and having recently become a 1% For The Planet member, it seemed only fitting to do a post leading up to Earth Day to spotlight some of my favorite outdoor brands that give back to the very lands and outdoor pursuits that they advocate the enjoyment of. So grab your stainless steel water bottle, your reusable bags, and hug your trees, because Earth Day is coming.
Outdoor Brands That Give Back
Yes, I did sleep in my Tentree hoodie last night because it’s so comfortable (and no, they didn’t pay me to say that). But far more importantly is the literalness of the brand’s name, Tentree, as the company plants 10 trees for every item purchased. And what’s cool is that with your purchase, you receive a code, which lets you track where your trees are planted and how that affects the environment and local community.
What’s more, for Earth Month, Tentree is doing a “Pledge & Plant” campaign, in which for every pledge made, the company plants one tree. These 30-day pledges include things like cutting out disposable coffee cups and single-use plastic straws.
Parks Project has been one of my favorite outdoor apparel brands since discovering them a couple years ago. Like Tentree, the name is literal, as each purchase helps supports different national parks projects and conservancies around America. And what I love the most is that the purchases contribute directly to specific projects. For example, my Joshua Tree t-shirt supports the planting of additional Joshua trees in the national park. Other products, like Parks Project's Glacier National Park shirts, help fund the purchase of bear boxes at Glacier National Park.
Patagonia gear may not be cheap, but investing in your future and the future of the planet never is. And the fact is that Patagonia is arguably doing more for the environment than any brand in the world. It’s even built into the company’s mission statement, “Use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
One of Patagonia’s latest initiatives is Patagonia Action Works, a digital platform for people to view environmental groups, events, and actions near where they live. But Patagonia’s commitment to the environment is holistic, fully integrated into the products themselves. This includes things like Fair Trade Certified products, materials and products that are low impact on the environment (like hemp and recycled polyester, wool, and nylon), and the Worn Wear program, repairing old Patagonia apparel for continued use or reuse.
Finally, another one of Patagonia’s newest initiatives is food, with Patagonia Provisions. According to Patagonia's founder, Yvon Chouinard, "In the coming months and years, we’ll offer a growing selection of foods that address environmental issues, and continue to encourage support of local food producers.”
Cotopaxi is one of my favorite discoveries among newer outdoor brands, as it was just founded a few years ago. The Cotopaxi name comes from founder and CEO Davis Smith, who lived as a kid in the shadow of the Ecuador volcano by the same name. Cotopaxi's motto is to create products "guaranteed for good," which means its products are guaranteed to last for the average lifespan of a person living in the developing world, 61 years. Plus, Cotopaxi apparel just look damn cool.
Cotopaxi’s impact, as the company puts it, is to “create innovative outdoor products and experiences that fund sustainable poverty alleviation, move people to do good, and inspire adventure.” As such, Cotopaxi’s specific focus is on addressing global poverty. This means investing in high-impact organizations building solutions for poverty alleviation, including the areas of health, education, and livelihoods. You can visit Cotopaxi’s website to view the impact report from each year. Additionally, Cotopaxi’s commitment to doing good extends to its products, too. The Repurposed Collection, for example, uses the extra materials from factories (like fabric, buckles, thread, and zippers) for use in "waste-saving, limited-run" products.
Similar to Patagonia and Cotopaxi, KEEN’s commitment to doing good is built into its brand. KEEN's purpose, clearly highlighted on the website, is to "make shoes to make a difference." According to KEEN, the pivotal moment in its history came in 2004, when they pulled the company's entire $1M advertising budget for disaster relief following the Indian Ocean tsunami. Since then, KEEN has donated $15 million to nonprofits. KEEN also awards $100,000 per year through the KEEN Effect Grant Program to grassroots organizations focused on connecting kids with the outdoors.
The North Face
The North Face is one of the oldest (founded in 1968), and probably most recognizable outdoor brands on this list. Also, recently one of the most outspoken. The North Face, along with Patagonia and KEEN, has been among the most outspoken outdoor brands in the last year against the Trump administration’s plans to shrink America’s public lands. This included an open letter, signed by hundreds of outdoor industry CEOs, and jointly submitted to United States Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. The North Face has also strongly been a voice for climate advocacy, and recently, advocating for the protection of the Arctic Refuge.
Beyond outdoor advocacy, The North Face's commitment to conservation and protection has included things like co-founding the Conservation Alliance (along with REI, Patagonia, and Kelty), and the Explore Fund, which helps get young people outdoors. Finally, The North Face's "Clothes the Loop" program encourages people to drop off used apparel and footwear at its stores, and in turn earn a $10 reward toward their next purchase. Those items are then donated to non-profit partner, Soles4Souls, providing relief through the distribution of shoes and clothing.
Dear Secretary Zinke, A short four weeks ago, you asked Americans to share their thoughts about our national monuments. Based on their responses, it is clear that Americans cherish our public lands. Your review of national monuments has unlocked one of the largest demonstrations of support for public lands that the nation has ever seen. In 15 days, Americans submitted almost a million comments and 99% of them were positive. The American people overwhelmingly favor a bold vision and a continuation of our nation’s conservation legacy. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have spoken in support of our national monuments, and we add our voices to theirs. We trust that you will heed the people’s voice by recommending that Bears Ears and other National Monument boundaries remain unchanged. In fact, we are confident that if you consider the public comments, you will focus on protecting even more of our diverse public land for recreation. Our protected public lands create lasting jobs, preserve cultural treasures, and serve as a source of pride for all Americans now and for the future. The American conservation story sparked by President Theodore Roosevelt is still being written today. You have the opportunity and public support to expand that legacy. Hear the American people and protect even more of our nation’s incomparable public lands. Signed, The North Face // Share your voice (link in bio). Comment period ends July 10th. #MonumentsforAll #PublicLandsinPublicHands
Hello, my name is Spencer, and I’m a Clif Bar addict. Honestly, I’m not going to even tell you how many peanut butter filled bars I’ve eaten, because it’s so shameful. But hey, it gives back, so who cares, right?
According to Clif Bar, its commitment is a reduction in its environmental footprint in everything. As the website states, “Our food will be made with sustainable, organic ingredients; baked with clean, renewable energy; packed in environmentally friendly packaging; and delivered by transportation that doesn't pollute.” Other ways Clif Bar give back to others, and the environment, is through the Clif Bar Family Foundation, which supports hundreds of nonprofits in the way of food, public health, and the environment. Just take all my money Clif Bar.
I recently came across MiiR since the company is a fellow 1% for the Planet member. Alright, and perhaps it also had something to do with my obsession with vacuum-insulated water bottles and tumblers, which they specialize in. Most of MiiR’s products, at the core, benefit the environment, since the use of reusable, planet-friendly bottles, cups, and mugs cuts down on single-use plastic that’s so harmful to the environment.
But what really stood out when browsing MiiR’s website was how much advocacy and giving back was front and central. This included products like the Public Lands Camp Cup, with proceeds supporting efforts to build the Bears Ears National Monument Visit With Respect Center. As I discovered, every MiiR product they sell funds a trackable giving project. You can read about some of MiiR’s giving products on its website.
We are on to week 2 of the Earth Month #ClimateCrusader Challenge! This week’s challenge is to vote with your dollars by purchasing goods from companies who are sustainable, and beyond that, regenerative. How will you vote with your dollar this week? Tell us in the comments below. Then enter the big GIVEWAY full of amazing items made from sustainable and regenerative brands! (link in bio) Tag 3 friends to join in too! _ Info graphic by @_shelbyling_ @alterecopacific @bureo @arvingoods @chicobag @freewaters_footwear @guayaki @kassiasurf @manda @nutiva @regrained @rising_springs @theseaweedbathco @stasherbag @togoware
United by Blue
United by Blue, too, immediately stood out because of how prominent the messaging about giving back is. Giving back for the outdoor brand is built right into its tagline, "Responsible durable goods." With United by Blue's products, this means materials like recycled polyester, organic cotton, and wool, which is a natural, renewable, and biodegradable resource. Then, for every product sold, United by Blue removes one pound of trash from waterways. The company also organizes ocean cleanups to help achieve this mission. Plus, United by Blue's designs are the dopest.
Listen, go ahead and judge me, but I have multiple pairs of prAna’s yoga pants for men (albeit they are also described as rock climbing pants). Are they the most comfortable pants in history? Probably. Are they so soft and comfortable that it doesn’t even feel like I’m wearing pants? Most definitely.
But more importantly is the fact that the pants are made from sustainable materials, hemp and recycled polyester. Sustainability runs throughout prAna's brand, from sourcing sustainable materials to eliminating fibers from any endangered forest regions to polybag reduction. And like many of the outdoor brands mentioned here, prAna partners with numerous outdoor and environmental charities. During the holiday season they also donate a portion of proceeds from certain projects to Outdoor Outreach, one of my favorite So Cal nonprofits, which helps connect youth to the outdoors.
Have you shared your #keepcotton100 pledge yet? Eliminating the use of pesticides & toxic chemicals and improving the health of farmers and their soil is another reason why we are only using organic cotton in our collection moving forward. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Tap this image at the link in our bio to download all the pledges, share why organic cotton is important to you, and make sure to tag #keepcotton100. We'll feature favorite responses on our website!
I have REI to thank for taking all my money, but also for introducing me to Vissla, an outdoor brand for the mermaid and surfer within us all. What I love about Vissla, and particularly the boardshorts (beyond being so comfortable I’m never taking them off this summer), is that they’re made from upcycled coconuts. Coconuts, as Vissla puts it, are "nature's miracle." Many of us have probably been traveling when we saw someone chopping away at a coconut for that delicious fruit inside. However, you may have also noticed them discard the outer husk. But it turns out that when blended with polyester, that discarded coconut husk makes a damn good pair of boardshorts.
Other planet-friendly Vissla products include "Recover Tees," made in California, and a fully recycled shirt that's a 50/50 blend of recycled cotton waste and polyester made from recycled plastic bottles. Mind. Blown. Lastly, Vissla is also a partner of one of my favorite organizations, the Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit protecting and preserving the world's oceans and beaches.
Because that hammock life. My love for hammocks has no bounds, evidenced by the fact that I have one hammock in my backyard, and another, my ENO DoubleNest Hammock, which perpetually stays in either my car or backpack. While these portable (arguably hipster) hammocks may seem trendy, ENO has been making them for nearly 20 years, and the first to make a hammock suspension system. ENO, too, is a 1% for the Planet member, and then also plants two trees in a place of need for every hammock sold. Who knew that napping could give so much back to the world?
Few brands have I discovered, in the outdoor industry or not, that position philanthropy and doing good as centrally as Solo Eyewear. While SOLO may not be an outdoor brand like some of the others listed here, its sunglasses are inherently connected to the outdoors, inspiring people to "a life of adventure," as the company puts it. Plus, SOLO’s sunglasses are environmentally responsible, made from repurposed bamboo and recycled plastic.
But SOLO Eyewear’s purpose goes beyond just eco-sunglasses. For every purchase, SOLO restores vision for a person in need, having restored vision to more than 15,000 people across 32 countries!
Campers and wilderness explorers unite! LuminAID may just make my favorite product from all these brands. LuminAID's headliner product: A 2-in-1 solar inflatable lantern and phone charger that packs flat and is waterproof, floatable, and submersible. How cool is that!
If you watch Shark Tank, then you may have already seen LuminAID's lanterns, which Mark Cuban backed on the show. And the founders' story is just as cool as the product. Founders Anne and Andrea first invented the lanterns following the Haiti earthquake several years ago. The years that followed saw the lanterns scaled for disaster relief, such as distribution of 1,000 solar lanterns in Haiti following Hurricane Isaac, and then thousands more supplied to international NGOs.
In the several years since, LuminAID has distributed more than 50,000 lights to charities in more than 100 countries as part of a "Give Light, Get Light" program. This means that you can go to LuminAID's website to buy a light for yourself, and then in return sponsor a light to be distributed to one of Luminaid's charitable partners. Talk about making the world a better place, literally and figuratively bringing light to the world.
Last, but certainly not least is LifeStraw. LifeStraw is literally saving lives, both in what the company makes and how LifeStraw gives back. LifeStraw’s products solve a major problem for outdoor lovers, and that’s the problem of drinking water from streams, rivers, lakes, and other water sources. The original LifeStraw geared backpackers, campers, and travelers with a straw-style filter that turned contaminated water into safe drinking water (up to 4,000 liters). LifeStraw has since launched additional bottles with the straw automatically built in, and universal adapters, like the one pictured below from LifeStraw. Now that’s how you solve a problem with your business.
But wait, there’s more! For every product that LifeStraw sells, a school child receives safe water for an entire school year. An entire year of safe water just from one purchase! That's meant thousands of schools and more than one million students receiving access to clean water. What's more, you can track and monitor the progress after your purchase and the subsequent water donation.
What are your favorite outdoor brands that give back?