Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Eco Gear: Given the green light?

This is my first article on here, so i thought i would do an article on green outdoor gear. 

The easiest and most effective way to be a greener consumer is to buy less stuff. Yes, many of us are gear junkies who love to try out the newest equipment and clothing, but before making any gear choice (green or not) you should consider whether you really need an item or if you already have something that does the job safely and effectively.

When you do need a piece of clothing or gear, look for items that contain environmentally-friendly materials, like recycled polyester and plastic and natural fibres such as bamboo, modal, hemp, coconut, and organic cotton and wool. Some environmentally-friendly outdoor clothing brands to consider include Patagonia, Prana, GoLite, Marmot. Finding environmentally-friendly technical gear is still very difficult; with clothing, look for products that use recycled materials and fewer chemicals. The outdoor industry is talking collectively about eco issues and will hopefully develop product standards and ratings for the benefit of concerned consumers.

If you can’t find a green version of the clothing or gear you need, remember that buying a high quality, dependable item that will fit you and your needs for years to come is preferable to buying a low quality piece that you’d need to repair or replace sooner. Read our reviews, visit sites such as Tribevine and think your purchases through before rushing into buying.  
Also, whenever safely possible, have gear professionally repaired rather than buying a brand new version. Tents, backpacks, clothing, and footwear can often be repaired, altered, or resoled by experienced specialists such as Tundra Repairs in Washington, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Still usable gear, clothing, and footwear also can be bought and sold second hand on eBay and my personal favourite, UKClimbing. You could also donate to a charity shop, or pass it on to a mate or family member. 

Some companies will take back old garments, such as with Patagonia’s Common Threads Garment Recycling with which they recycle worn out fleece, both Patagonia and Polartec, and also their own organic cotton t-shirts. 

 However, according to Mark Held, Secretary General for the European Outdoor Group, the cost of our equipment is set to rise due to the growing environmental crisis. This is apparently due to manufacturers passing the cost of environmentally friendly fabrics and fabric recycling onto its customers. 

What "green" gear is on offer? 

Here is a select few.

Patagonia R1 Full Zip Fleece
Made from Polartec Powerdry, which is
made from 60% recycled fabric from
Patagonia’s Common Thread Recycling
Programme. RRP £100

Paramo Velez Adventure Light
Made from Nikwax’s long lasting
Analogy fabric which won’t leak, even
when punctured. It is also stitched by the
Miquelina Foundation, which provide ethical
production in Columbia. RRP £190

Patagonia Nano  Puff Pullover
Windproof and water resistant with the shell
and lining being made from 100% recycled
fabric, again from Patagonias CTRP.  RRP £130

Watch this space for more on this topic in the near future. 

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