Often hashtags can be throwaway tags, but if you scratch the surface, is there actually anything there to back it up? In our case, we’d like to think so.
For us here at adventure.ie and store.adventure.ie #SustainableAdventure means responsible adventurous activities and travel using responsibly sourced kit and teaching others how to do the same.
The paradox of adventure travel and activities, business growth with the desire to tread lightly on our planet is one we continuously have in mind when planning any trip, activity and also when buying kit for ourselves or for the shop.
You can read the most recent version of our sustainability policy here.
So how do we give back to our community? To our planet? Here are our cornerstone values:
- Researching our brands, their methods and promoting quality brands with products that endure to reduce waste for our customers and essentially promote buying less. (More on brand choices below)
- Print only when necessary. Offer customers a choice of printed receipt, email or on their account.
- Office printing only when necessary and using FSC paper as a minimum standard, aiming to use recycled, unbleached paper as preferred choice when the higher carbon footprint of its production is offset to a satisfactory level.
- Avoid stocking cheap throwaway brands/products.
- Avoid overpackaged products, choose similar products with paper/card packaging over plastics.
- Plan purchasing to have as few deliveries as possible whilst also avoiding over-stocking.
- Avoid air conditioning. We don’t have control over the way the building’s energy is sourced, so we actively keep our heating bills to a minimum by taking simple measures such as wearing a hat in store, moving around and only using the heating when it is genuinely cold.
- Equipment & Apparel Rentals. People rent ski equipment all the time. Why not expedition and camping and potentially hiking kit too? You can rent almost anything from us. If you’re considering investing in some pricey kit and you’re not sure you’ll get enough use out of it or have the space to store it where you live – check with us first.
- Re-sell used rental equipment while it is still in excellent condition. Donate appropriate items which still have reasonable life in them but cannot be sold.
- Recommend that people re-proof or repair an item before buying a new one. Whether it's a stove, a down jacket or your boots, all of these items can be repaired and many brands can supply you with the parts or guide you to appropriate repair centres. We can help with that process if you don't know where to start. It may seem weird not to push for a sale, but we are looking at the bigger picture here and pushing for conservation of our planet instead.
- Re-use any packaging which can be re-used wherever possible. When you buy online from us, you may receive your parcels packaged or part packaged with this reused padding, card, boxes, paper or plastic. Let us know if you are moving house, need boxes for storage or cardboard for no-dig gardening and we will save you some.
- Any packaging which cannot be re-used is recycled.
- Soft plastics are saved and returned in person to representatives of brands who are members of the European Outdoor Group's Single Use Plastic initiative to ensure recycling with a reputable partner.
Responsibility (Social, Economic & Personal):
- Educate our staff, followers and customer base regarding steps we can take to better our environment. We all need to take responsibility for our own actions – own what we do and say. Maybe that means researching products to find out what they are made from and how they are manufactured. Perhaps it means investing in a piece of kit instead of buying a cheaper throw-away version. It might mean the inconvenience of not being able to cook and eat expedition food from a bag. Or it could mean renting equipment if you are not sure you will ever use it again. All of these decisions make an impact.
- Source stock from manufacturers who produce their products responsibly – fair trade, bluesign fabric, choosing upcycled and/or recycled over virgin materials, local/European where possible. We have begun to document these at product level on our website so you filter many products already by their environmental credentials and make more informed purchasing decisions. Please see the results our recent survey of suppliers also.
- Conservation: Despite all efforts, we recognise that we will still leave some impact. The outdoor industry is changing, but it's not there yet. adventure.ie is a member of the European Outdoor Conservation Association. We actively contribute to conservation efforts on a global basis through membership fees (100% of which goes to conservation projects) and additional fundraising donations. Projects are voted on by the public and members of the association. We are also business supporters of the All Ireland Pollinator Plan. We implement the plan in our own garden and encourage others to do the same.
- Offsetting Carbon: As a last resort, after all efforts to reduce our impact - not as a cop out. We are Intermediate members of Sustainable Travel Ireland who support Irish business like ours to continuously up our game through a variety of training, policy development and certification processes. We will share this journey via our newsletter with you as we travel it. This organisation also offers members access to offset carbon which cannot be reduced (yet) through partnership with South Pole via investment support for well-researched conservation projects. As per our sustainability policy, we promised to offset our baseline year for scopes 1, 2 and business travel (staff only) by the end of June 2022 and I’m pleased to say that we have rounded up (to be on the safe side) and have offset 40 tonnes of CO2 by investing in half in a Safe Community Water Supply Scheme in Rwanda and half in Efficient Cookstoves for Maasai Communities. You can read more about these projects by clicking on the links provided and see our certificate here. Scopes 1, 2 and all travel (staff and participants) for 2022 will be analysed and offset in early 2023. We are continuing our journey with Sustainable Travel Ireland from Intermediate membership to Gold, with milestones of bronze and silver along the way. We will keep you informed of our progress and welcome any learning points you may have for us or knowledge you can share.
- Supporting local
- Supporting local and small businesses in Wicklow and Ireland.
- Supporting local and small businesses whilst on overseas expeditions.
- Supporting those businesses with an emphasis on community and environmental initiatives.
- Supporting local and Irish charities through volunteering, events support and/or donations. We are long term volunteers with The Glen of Imaal Mountain Rescue Team for instance.
A Word on How We Choose Our Stock:
We sought out brands that fit with our particular environmental ethics, some of these brands were not available in Ireland prior to us stocking them, some were well known already.
We were outraged by the sheer volume of soft plastic packaging waste delivered to retailers - this was the single biggest shock to us as new retailers. Every single item of clothing was individually wrapped in soft plastic to protect it during its time spent in shipping containers. We had no idea! We complained. And kept complaining. Although the packaging issue has improved over the last few years, it's not yet where it should be and remains a bone of contention for us. R&D to create a bioplastic compostable equivalent that doesn't break down in shipping containers is ongoing. If you know of any breakthroughs - let us know and we'll send that information on!
Each buying season, we trawl through thousands of items on offer to carefully consider the environmental and human impact of these products, whilst still offering you a good range of choice between brands and items.
We do this with the Sustainable Development Goals in mind and to save you the hassle. We read each brand's sustainability reports at purchasing time in an effort to sift green-washing from genuine efforts.
Wherever possible, we limit ourselves to choosing from products made from recycled or mostly recycled materials - even if those products are not quite as appealing as their virgin material alternatives. By doing so, as small an outlet as we are, we are sending a powerful message to brands to continuously strive to do better.
As a result, you may notice that one brand may feature more heavily than another this season - and this may swap next season. Or a brand may even be dropped for a season or two until they get their act together (sustainably speaking). There is method to our madness and ethics behind these efforts. We put our money where our mouths are.
You may also be interested to read about how Cindy's supplier sustainability survey went here.
You can filter your product searches by ecolabel and recycled/upcycled content. I'm working on that right now, so I don't yet have everything labelled, but I'm getting there. For our ecolabels filter, you will notice that some are proprietary and are not 3rd party certified. Eg. Salewa Committed and Marmot UpCycle. Others such as FairWear are non-enforceable but are a standard which the brand has signed up to in good faith. I thought long and hard about whether or not to include these. I decided to include them in the interest of transparency. Salewa's criteria for Salewa Committed can be found here. You can find out more about Marmot's sustainability ethics here.
However the percentage of recycled or upcycled content is less accurate. It is my genuine best guess based on the information provided by suppliers. For instance, a jacket made with 100% recycled polyester, I will list as >=75% because zips, toggles and elastics are not listed in the product specification as being recycled. I've erred on the side of caution to avoid green-washing. If a product is a staple product where newer stock is made from recycled content, I won't use this percentage until all stock in this line is the recycled version. Any errors are mine. Please do point them out if you spot them by including product links and an outline of the error. Thank you.
Yours in all things sustainability,