There was a point in time not so long ago where people were ambiguous about whether smoking was bad for you. We eventually reached a consensus where it’s almost universally accepted that smoking cigarettes are bad for your health. Very few people would now argue in favor of smoking for a healthy long life.
We’re now at that same tipping point regarding our relationship with nature and the future of our planet. Thanks to revolutionaries like Greta Thunberg, we now have a generation of young people who are trying to live greener and more compassionate lives.
This has changed the mindset of organizations and businesses, and those that supply the outdoors market are especially under a degree of scrutiny from their customers. Those of us that like to spend the bulk of our spare time out in nature are generally keen to preserve it for our fellow outdoors enthusiasts and, more importantly, future generations.
Arc’teryx has responded to the current environmentalist movement with the launch of its new ReBird range.
Most big companies quantify their carbon footprint by telling us they have lowered their annual CO2 emissions or use buzzwords such as “sustainable.” But Arc’teryx has gone a step further by actually taking on board the circularity concepts outlined by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation.
The outdoors giant is basically using their waste from existing clothing to create new fashionable and functional products. This is a similar concept to Patagonia’s Worn Wear scheme, which is already in its fourth year. It’s not all tote bags (made from Gore-Tex jackets) from Arc’teryx though, you can now snap up some serious gear whilst doing your bit for our fragile planet.
Online reviews are very favorable, and it appears that Arc’teryx hasn’t sacrificed quality with these reclaimed numbers. There are Gore-Tex shells designed for serious conditions, wind shells, and Gore-Tex jackets for snow sports.
Arc’teryx has also started an initiative that allows customers to trade in items they no longer use, repaired, and then relisted as a new sale. In addition, customers will get a gift card back from Arc’teryx to help motivate them to send unused products back.
“The fashion industry manufactures 100 billion garments annually – enough for every human on the planet to buy something new to wear every month. Unfortunately, three out of five of those pieces will end up in landfill within the year.” – Arc’teryx blog post on ReBird.
Arc’teryx have clearly done their research, and unlike many big companies, they are cognizant of the earth’s current environmental position.
Most of us know that Arc’teryx is a serious outdoors brand and their products often come with an even more serious price tag. However, these types of products are usually bought to serve us well for years to come.
Look After Your Gear And Your Gear Will Look After You
The ReBird ethos has led Arc’teryx to offer a care and repair service to help their customers get the longevity they would expect after their investment. This service gives warranty support, tips, and paid repair services.
Services such as this are genius and can potentially give products years or even decades before they need to be upcycled.
This is good news as Arc’teryx is the first to admit that producing their garments is very resource-intensive. They state that 65% of the lifetime impact happens before the garment even makes it to the store.
This includes the creation of raw materials and the manufacture of a single garment. But Arc’teryx is not a fast-fashion brand, and they build things to last, so this type of production is to be expected to an extent.
The Senior Manager of Arc’teryx’s Social and Environmental Sustainability sums up their ethos quite well:
“At Arc’teryx we have always built products that last, and durability is crucial to how we see ourselves contributing to a more circular economy and achieving our global climate goals. It enables us to do fun work like make new product from old, resell used gear, and repair. While some of this work has been happening as long as we’ve been in existence, some of it is brand new. To us, circularity means continuously seeking to design out waste and pollution from our systems and to respect the resources of our finite planet. ReBird is one way that Arc’teryx is bringing this to life.”
The etymology of ReBird is also an explanation of its ethos. Arc’teryx’s logo is as recognizable on the mountainside as Nike is on the street. However, most of us recognize it simply as an old fossil.
The logo is based on a 150 million-year-old bird known as Archaeopteryx lithographica (now the apostrophe makes sense). It was the first recorded reptile fossil to develop feathers for flight. It represents the evolutionary way that Arc’teryx likes to act like a brand, always changing appropriately.
Their ReBird blog post says it best:
“ReBird™ is ‘the bird’ in regenerative mode, bringing old bones – dead ends, used gear, cast-offs, waste – back to life.
We invoke this touchstone as our totem, over again. We recall the audacious possibilities it represents. We send ourselves the re: Bird memo every day, as a reminder that each small shift we make, each contribution towards circularity, however micro it may seem, can help generate the momentum we need to create an entirely new way of being.”
Social media and lockdowns have given companies more powerful platforms to reach people and put them in the firing lines more than ever before. If more companies react to the climate crisis like Arc’teryx, the potential for creating a circular economy will become greater and greater.
Maybe one day we can expect this kind of progressive behavior from most organizations, and we can enjoy our privileged connection to nature for a few more centuries.