The spread of single-use plastics this year due to COVID-19 has jeopardized outdoor industry initiatives and enabled consumers to make difficult choices.
Up until this year there were reusable products everywhere. Most of us have learned to avoid Styrofoam, swap for stainless steel water bottles, and even wear titanium sporks to avoid single-use items on the go.
However, in the midst of COVID-19, resistance to single-use plastics has become weak for most. In one (n Interview with ReutersTony Radoszewski, President and CEO of the Plastics Industry Association, said, “Single-use plastics were the difference between life and death during this pandemic.” Bags for IV solutions and ventilators require single-use plastics, he added.
The healthcare industry obviously needs single-use plastics in such cases, but what about the outdoor industry?
The use of flexible packaging (from consumer goods to food service businesses) in the US has increased by 8 to 9% in 2020, according to estimates by the research company Wood Mackenzie. And unfortunately, brands that strive for sustainability in other ways also fall into that percentage.
The recycling myth
The single-use ban has its advantages, but the friendly triangle of the arrows no longer means that product packaging, utensils and containers to take away are intended for recycling.
In 2019 (before the pandemic), the Plastic Pollution Coalition became went on record as a result, “six times more plastic waste is burned in [the] USA as recycled. “Sometimes it’s wrong sorting, wrong labeling, or the lack of a recycling facility. But all of the time it’s a by-product of companies that primarily use plastic.
And when you think about how much more time we spend at home ordering online (instead of Pick up items at a local store) you can easily see how plastic garbage is trendy.
Outdoor brands take responsibility
Efforts to ban single-use and difficult-to-reprocess materials have seen setbacks in a pandemic world.
“Before COVID, we worked on a plan that would allow consumers to return their old products [phone] Cases to our retail partners where we could collect them and find better end-of-life alternatives than the landfill, ”said Jordan Vater, LifeProof Brand Manager. “With an emphasis on a no-touch (COVID-19) retail experience, these plans are currently on hold.”
A member of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, LifeProof has converted more than 27,000 pounds of ocean-based plastic into its WAKE phone case models since April 2020. Some outdoor companies including prAnaLong before COVID-19 hit, trust in plastics – disposable and recyclable – was shed.
An organic T-shirt with a raffia cord now arrives more like a California sushi roll. “The roll-pack shipping method removed more than 17 million polybags from prAna’s supply chain between 2010 and 2019,” said Kristen Wadley, prAna’s Marketing Director. Another bonus to rolling? Less wrinkles.
The brand wasn’t content to go it alone Responsible packaging movement (RPM) August 2020. Dozens of brands including Toad & Co. joined the cohort and recognized that when we change our relationships with our products, the collective well-being of society improves.
The same applies Ospreywhere the pursuit of recycled or FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified paper parallels digital catalogs and “lookbooks” used by commercial buyers. The monitoring of production from the point of view of the life cycle assessment further attacks the hidden energy and material costs behind the products.
And of course we don’t want to mention how quickly the outdoor industry got on the road with programs like CO2 neutrality Climate neutral that helps brands reduce their footprints and make up for the rest.
Reuse is the new recycling
Single use is a downward spiral. Reuse is the new frontier. Utensils have become more personal and portable, and the life of food containers is measured in years.
The concept of upcycling is linked to this rhythm of cleaning and reuse, in which the raffia on a prAna T-shirt becomes a gift box ribbon or a tie for garden plants. Or the billboard along the highway ends up as a backpack or the cyclist’s handlebar bag.
Central to an effective reuse lifestyle is a person’s (1) awareness of their daily patterns, (2) anticipation and preparation, and (3) a commitment to avoid single-use plastics.
Become your own offset
These five actions are a quick guide to creating your personal lifestyle for plastic offsets during and after the pandemic.
Offset action no.1
Act easier for the better. This applies to everything from food (now wrapped in reusable beeswax) to clothing that is carefully shipped in paper.
superior Food glasses from Stanley, Titanium utensils from MSR or Snow Peak and travel Cups and bowls from GSI Outdoors – all products that justify your investment and can be reused ad nauseam throughout the day.
Offset action no.2
Think beyond the present. Outdoor equipment that is designed to last, requires maintenance and accept new life in retirement should get first dibs. Or zoom in Upcycling clothing, Courier bags made from scrap pieces or Pet leashes woven from climbing ropes.
Offset action # 3
Replacement necessary for functional. Neck fans This block of exhaled germs turns a pandemic must-have into a backcountry bonus by keeping you warm on the descent, with extra points for whimsical or meaningful graphics.
Offset action no.4
Borrow first, then buy. When it comes to products such as bicycle lights, multitools and watercraft, get a rental car or Demo first. Then buy with confidence in the long-term benefits of the product.
Offset action no.5
Expand your circle. Take a friend on your next adventure – carpool to reduce your carbon footprint, or run or drive. Encourage each other to explore new places near home.
Patagonia now guarantees that every shell is made using recycled material and is fairly traded
Calling it an “industry first,” Patagonia announced that each of its waterproof shells, from lifestyle to alpine, now contains recycled outer fabrics and Fair Trade certified sewing. Continue reading…