Sustainability brands are brands that provide added value to our planet and our people. Essentially, these brands not only want to do good business, they want to do good.
In the outdoor industry, we are finding that pretty much every brand (including us) is working to improve its sustainability standards because, after all, if we don’t protect our outdoors, we can’t play in it!
Some brands, like Patagonia, prAna and Tentree have committed more resources and effort than others. But, like all of us as we struggle to recycle our garbage, to drive less and to buy local and organic, it takes dedication, more time and often, more money. But every year we, and our brands, are improving.
There are all kinds of sustainability measurements and evaluations and to be honest, it gets confusing. Overall however, brands are more sustainable because they use recycled and organic materials, because they give back to our environment and our communities, because they pursue fair trade practices and because they meet certain manufacturing standards including high standards of animal care when it comes to wool and down insulation.
Recycled Materials and Organic Fibres
Even Patagonia, the leader of sustainability, is still working on getting more recycled materials into their clothing. They have, however, achieved 72%. 72% of their line this season is made with recycled materials, whereas the clothing industry as whole only achieves a recycling rate of 15%. Other brands that we carry that achieve higher than average recycling rates are Fjallraven, The North Face, Smartwool, Icebreaker, Mountain Hardwear, Burton, Outdoor Research, prAna, Cotopaxi, Volcom, Tentree, Roxy and Kuhl.
Brands can build awareness for important causes; they can take action and they can raise funds.
Think of Tentree. As its name implies, Tentree plants ten trees for every item sold. To date they have planted 30 million trees and their goal is 1 billion trees by 2030. They also use recycled and organic materials to lighten their load on our environment.
United by Blue is another community action brand: they clean up a pound of garbage from our oceans and beaches with every product sold.
Canada Goose has some wonderful Community Action efforts. Just last year they launched Project Atigi. Project Atigi brings the work of talented traditional crafts people in the North to the world stage. This year, Canada Goose commissioned 18 designers from 4 Inuit regions to create bespoke parkas using their traditional skills and designs and Canada Goose materials. These parkas make an exclusive collection and the proceeds from their sale go to Inuit communities.
Patagonia has established their amazing worldwide Environmental fund. In 2017 & 2019, Coast was able to access and facilitate money from this fund so that Kwanlin Dun First Nation, Fisheries & Ocean Canada, Yukon River Panel and the Yukon Fish & Game Association could work together to measure water levels and temperatures and their effect on salmon return.
At Coast we are proud of our “Home Brand”. The proceeds from Home items go to the “Safe at Home” project initiated by the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition. To date we have raised over $35,000 to end and prevent homelessness in Yukon. We are also proud that we are now using organic cotton and recycled fibre in the products that we are producing.
1% for the planet is an international organization started by Yvon Chouinard and Craig Matthews. The goal: to fund environmental causes. Business members commit to giving 1% of gross sales each year to their approved non-profit partners through a variety of support. 1% brands that we carry include Patagonia (no surprise!), Toad& Co., Klean Kanteen, Backpacker’s Pantry, Mountainsmith, and La Sportiva. And we want to call out Alpine Bakery as a 1% for the planet member here in Whitehorse!!! Another reason to buy their amazing bread!!!
Manufacturing Standards: Bluesign, RDS (Responsible Down Standard), Responsible Wool Standard, ZQ-Certified Wool
Different groups have come together to measure different parts of the manufacturing process.
Bluesign traces the creation of garments: from producing the textiles to finishing the products. They take a holistic approach to their independent audits to provide “safer and more sustainable environments for people to work in and everyone to live in.”
Responsible Down Standard is a global non-profit organization that ensures the welfare and humane treatment of geese and ducks that provide the down for all the warm coats we need and love. All the brands at Coast have transparency standards for the sourcing of their down. Most belong to RDS.
Icebreaker and Darn tough are members of RWS: the wool equivalent of RDS. Smartwool, our other major wool supplier, is a member of ZQ-certified ethical wool. Woolpower sources their wool from South America where they can guarantee ethically sourced wool.
Sustainability Measurements: B Corp, LEED Certification, Fair Trade and Fair Wear, The European Outdoor Group’s Sustainability Charter, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and more
There are many measurements for sustainability and the list can become bewildering. Here are a few of the major ones.
United by Blue, Cotopaxi, Burton, Patagonia, Tentree and others are also Certified B Corp Corporations. The “B” in Bcorp stand for Beneficial. These companies act in ways that benefit society as a whole.  They meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. 
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Coast Mountain Sports is situated in Yukon’s only commercial LEED certified building. LEED provides a framework for healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings.
Fair Trade and FairWear: we couldn’t find a brand that we carry that doesn’t support Fair Trade in their organizations. They may not be members of one of the many Fair Trade or Fair Wear organizations but they all ensure that fair wages are paid to producers so that companies are able to provide workers with a stable income. We do want to call out our very own Bean North Coffee Roasters. Bean North not only makes amazing coffee, but they roast certified organic fair trade coffee out on Takhini Hot Springs Road. You can buy their coffee from our store or you can go to their website to buy online. We recommend their coffee subscriptions!
In Europe there are other sustainability measures including the European Outdoor Group and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. Rab and Fjällräven are members of these organizations. Other European companies like Woolpower Ostersund practice high internal standards of production including recycling all their waste fabric and manufacturing only in Sweden: in fact the name of the person who sewed your garment is on their label.
Today, sustainability is more than a catch word. Companies know that they can’t help but leave a foot print but they are working to mitigate this. More and more we are all choosing brands that try to do good and to do good business.