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No love for Eco gear?


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  • #1268806
    Ismail Faruqi
    Member

    @ismailfaruqi

    I'm sorry if this sounds like beating a dead horse, but after reading a lot of articles here through my new membership I think I saw a few products got "bad" weight rating because their company switched to more eco-friendly materials. It seems also GoLite is quite thrashed here recently because their gear have gotten heavier, although they've begun switching to eco-friendly materials (disclosure: I don't have any relation with GoLite).

    I hope BPL as the only media with scientific and educated approach for outdoor gear reviews could write an article to educate us about the impact of ultralight material manufacturing to environment, which material is eco-friendly or not, and finally give some additional rating for eco-friendliness in future reviews.

    For the sake of Leave no Trace, I hope a few ounces weight saving does not have to leave a lot of environmental hazard in China, Vietnam, Indonesia, etc…

    I'm sorry if my English sounds funny, because it's not my mother language.

    Cheers!

    #1693502
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    That would be a good article

    I try to minimize my environmental impact

    Without doing any calculations, you probably have more environmental impact burning gas driving to the trailhead on one outing than that caused by manufacturing a piece of backpacking equipment.

    #1693510
    Jack H.
    Member

    @found

    Locale: Sacramento, CA

    While, not a member, I'd also be interested in learning about the environmental footprint of our gear. I've heard that many of these eco fabrics really aren't that environmentally friendly.

    I think the Golite bashing is a little bit of a trend. But it's also more of a reflection of their general weight creep, than their switch to recycled fabrics. The Jam 2, a cult item around here, was made excessively heavy not because of recycled material, but because of the addition of "features".

    #1693511
    Jack H.
    Member

    @found

    Locale: Sacramento, CA

    The best commentary on eco gear that I've found is at Patagonia's website.

    Footprint Chronicles

    and their blog The Cleanest Line

    #1693520
    James holden
    BPL Member

    @bearbreeder-2

    i hate to say it, but nope … no love

    when it comes to my insulation … id prefer primaloft one anyday …. the 24% increase in insulation is too significant to ignore … not to say that i wont buy eco stuff if its on a deep sale though …

    i feel there are many other ways that we can be more "eco" in our daily lifestyle .. a few pieces of outdoor clothing are minimal … consider this … how "eco" friendly is that big SUV (im sure some people here drive one), all that packaging on the food you buy, your normal yuppie everyday clothing, the flatulence of the cows whose beefsteak you eat … etc …

    if im paying top dollar for outdoor gear, id like the "best" performance and weight … 50%+ off sales are another story … lol

    #1693522
    Dale Wambaugh
    BPL Member

    @dwambaugh

    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    I would be interesting to see an article on the subject, however short it might be. GoLite got hung because they made some major changes in their pack design at the same time they brought in recycled content in their products.

    IMHO, unless you are using cottage-made organic wool, linen, hemp or cotton, you are contributing to industrial pollution. It is a question of degree and I applaud any efforts made to improving the situation. As those who enjoy the environment and want it protected, we should be voting with our wallets when it comes to more environmentally friendly products. We're hugging the trees while wrapped in poison— makes no sense. Working conditions and worker's rights are big on my list too. Fair trade should come into the issue along with the pollution issues. We are using gear made by people whose daily income may equal our latte bill.

    To my admittedly ignorant take on it, GoLite and Patagonia are the only companies with a real effort to using recycled content, with Patagonia taking the lead in taking back their items for recycling. I'd love to hear more.

    Another way to approach the problem is to use recycled goods in their original form, as in buying used. At least 75% of my gear is used, and my daily clothing and electronics are on the order of 90% used.

    Would you pay a tax in proportion to the pollution created by the items you purchase?

    #1693524
    Chris Benson
    Member

    @roguenode

    Locale: Boulder

    No reason environmental considerations can't be a part of BPL reviews/articles. I agree, there are definitely things that are a part of daily life, such as stopping single occupancy SUV use, that have potentially larger impact. That's no reason to ignore environmental considerations elsewehere.

    Members can simply choose to ignore it if they don't care or don't find it significant.

    #1693526
    rubmybelly!
    BPL Member

    @sleeping

    Locale: The Cascades

    "No reason environmental considerations can't be a part of BPL reviews/articles."

    Time could be a reason. Takes a lot of research to include environmental considerations in any meaningful way, IMO. Not saying it shouldn't, just saying there are valid reasons why it might not be.

    #1693536
    Dale Wambaugh
    BPL Member

    @dwambaugh

    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    If a publisher can take the time to promote polluting products, they can sure take the time to report on ones that don't!

    #1693540
    Brian UL
    Member

    @maynard76

    Locale: New England

    Ive been looking into sustainable MYOG for a while now. I have ideas and a box of materials but Im stuck on a few points and its hard to find the time to do it and I have good gear I use already.
    There is an old thread about this. I agree with Dale, anything made with fossil fuel and creates industrial waste is not environmentally sound. Recycled is better than nothing -but falls FAR short from being environmentally friendly.
    So far environmental concerns only get lip services and a lot of feel-good marketing but I don't know a single gear company that makes eco sensitive SUSTAINABLE gear.
    Its sad because its those large companies who have the resources to do research on finding new improved weaves and treatments for various organic fabrics, downproof silks, waterproof cottons, more abrasion resistant hemp ect,..

    #1693546
    rubmybelly!
    BPL Member

    @sleeping

    Locale: The Cascades

    "If a publisher can take the time to promote polluting products, they can sure take the time to report on ones that don't!"

    Sorry Dale, but that's just a silly statement. BPL doesn't set out to 'promote polluting products.' They don't necessarily promote anything, they inform about backpacking products they come across. At least some, if not most, do it without pay.

    I believe it's up to consumers, if they are concerned about how polluting any particular product may be, to do a little research themselves to see if any particular product meets what they're looking for in a product. We're responsible for what we buy, BPL isn't.

    That's not to say that BPL can't do an article about the state of environmental considerations used in the production of backpacking gear, but I don't expect each article to include information for every issue group out there.

    #1693548
    Chris Benson
    Member

    @roguenode

    Locale: Boulder

    "Time could be a reason. Takes a lot of research to include environmental considerations in any meaningful way, IMO. Not saying it shouldn't, just saying there are valid reasons why it might not be."

    True, good point. If it can be done with a reasonable amount of time and resources. I'll leave reasonable up to BPL staff. ;-)

    Even just an "Eco-considerations" blurb in articles with links for further information or to foster discussion might be useful.

    #1693551
    Mary D
    BPL Member

    @hikinggranny

    Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge

    What really gets me about these supposedly "eco-friendly" companies is that once you order something online from them, they fill up your mailbox with printed catalogs for years afterwards. Unlike spam email, there appears to be no way to turn these off. Patagonia is one of the worst offenders in this regard! I ordered once from them online 5 years ago, and I still get fancy catalogs from them at least monthly.

    #1693555
    John S.
    BPL Member

    @jshann

    I think the Sierra Club sends too much junkmail myself..lol.

    #1693557
    Sarah Kirkconnell
    BPL Member

    @sarbar

    Locale: Homesteading On An Island In The PNW

    Supposed eco-friendly fabrics or manufacturing techniques doesn't mean a better product. IMO often "eco" = more $$$$ to be charged. Nor does it mean lighter. It can mean they put more finishing touches and doodads on the item so it looks snazzier.

    In the end, any item you buy for whatever purpose will have a footprint – from food, gas and beyond.

    Instead of buying "eco" or "green" items imported from Thailand, China, Vietnam and on – buy US produced items from US produced fabric (it does exist still) (if one lives in the US that is) and use less oil in shipping. That to me at least makes it better in my eyes.

    I know for me, when I started the production of what I make US mills became important. My insulating fabric is made on the Olympic Peninsula very close to where I live. I wanted domestic fabric and was willing to pay the extra money. But that doesn't mean the fabric is "green" by any means. Yet at least I know how the fabric is made, they are upfront about it.

    #1693563
    Evan Cabodi
    BPL Member

    @blackrock

    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    I really think working to create more environmentally friendly gear is important from the manufacturers standpoint. If anything it helps to give consumers another option similar to buying from cottage manufacturers that support a local economy and not a slave trade one out of China or Sri Lanka or Vietnam… Each consumer has their choice to support the cause that is most important to them.

    If a GoLite pack is heavier but more environmentally friendly then good for them. If a particular item is no longer the lightest then they simply aren't the lightest and some may not buy because of that reason, but again it's a choice. I may choose to buy one simply to show my support for a company trying to use recycled materials or I may buy something made local or I may go with goose down vs primaloft. Choices really.

    As for gear reviews, I think it would be good to include information on manufacturing and whether any of the gear may include some environmentally friendly aspects such as recycled materials, country of origin, etc.

    #1693564
    Nick Gatel
    BPL Member

    @ngatel

    Locale: Southern California

    And so how do we measure eco footprint of manufacturers? What standards do we use? And do the standard-setters have their own agenda? Al Gore is considered by some to be the standard bearer, but he sucks up and wastes more natural resources than 99.9% of the citizens of the US.

    In an effort to go light, many people buy gear that does not last and ends up in landfills.

    IMO, most eco efforts are really marketing schemes to gain market share.

    #1693565
    tommy d
    Member

    @vinovampire

    I guess I just don't care for most of the "green washing" that I see from companies. Actually, I'm pretty dubious whenever a company slaps an "eco-friendly" label on their products. As Michael Pollan said in his book In Defense of Food, healthy foods like vegetables don't need to be labeled and marketed as healthy.

    If you care about the impact of your gear and your backpacking in general, then do thinks like (a) bike to trail heads, (b) buy used gear, (c) fix broken gear, (d) don't wash your cloths after a hike or wash in cold water, etc.

    There are pieces of gear that I've been using for almost 15 years. So, no, I'm not going to buy something slapped with the "Ego Gear" label, just because it allows a company to make things cheaper and sell them at the same price, while riding the Green Wave.

    #1693579
    Evan Cabodi
    BPL Member

    @blackrock

    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    Come on guys. Obviously some of its marketing, but you can't simply ignore the effort to be green as a whole. It's not all hype. Ignoring and discounting the effort will do nothing more than tell big companies you don't care if they reduce packing material or use more environmentally friendly materials in their products…

    I could easily pack and ship my own stuff in cheap bleached non-recycled envelopes and buy fancy shiny hang tags for 1/3rd the price but I don't. It took me a good amount of extra effort but if you buy one of my hats it comes in an envelope that is 100% recycled though I don't know the post consumer waste %. My sealed vacuum packs are also recyclable and all my packing is kept to a pure minimum. I don't include flyer's, stickers or even a paper invoice, I label the vacuum pack and call it good and I think people appreciate that.

    The only other packaging and waste I've got would be the hang tag I attach to each hat or pair of mitts, but that tag is also 100% recycled material with 75% post consumer waste and printed with Soy based ink. It's attached by a small piece of hand spun hemp yarn and a reusable safety pin that is actually a quality pin made here in the USA.

    So when it's all said and done you can recycle everything you got your hat in and compost the hang tag… I wouldn't call that "Green washing"… I'm not going to say that I'm all green or slap on an "eco-friendly" label but I've definitely put some extra effort and cost into it. I don't even have any of that listed on my site…

    #1693585
    D G
    Spectator

    @dang

    Locale: Pacific Northwet

    In my humble opinion, trying to go green by purchasing backpacking gear from "green" companies is equivalent to drilling holes in your toothbrush to save weight while still carrying a 6 lb tent, 3 lb sleeping bag, etc.

    #1693591
    Mark Hudson
    BPL Member

    @vesteroid

    Locale: Eastern Sierras

    I think one potential hazard of reporting on eco friendly materials and their "true" impact to the environment, is that much of the "data" we have available to us as consumers is really "spun marketing".

    I have seen some almost scientific work done here on testing, and applaud that. I dont know if the publishers have the ability to do the same when it comes to the environmental topic.

    I would rather see no data, than marketing spin repeated.

    #1693596
    W I S N E R !
    BPL Member

    @xnomanx

    Some people make legitimate efforts at using recycled materials and more sustainable practices…but many also just use the "green" label as new way of gaining market share.

    For anyone truly concerned about "green" backpacking/outdoor gear, simply stop buying stuff you don't need and wear out the stuff you already have…then patch it….then wear it out some more.

    I'm far more disgusted by gear whores than a company that makes questionable claims/marketing/attempts at being "green".

    #1693600
    Brian UL
    Member

    @maynard76

    Locale: New England

    Why are people hung up on recycled?
    Sustainable goes way beyond that.
    There seems to be a few assumptions I keep hearing.
    a- non fossil fuel fabrics are heavier
    b- they don't work as well
    c- they can't be made locally?
    None of this makes sense. Maybe people remember the old army canvas bags and think organic fabric = heavy and clunky? Obviously its the design that is heavy and clunky not necessarily the materials.
    As for working as well, this an area thats simply unexplored. No one ever seriously made modern gear this way it remains unknown. Im sure sustainable materials have drawbacks and limitations but Im confident they can be made into perfectly usable great gear.
    Last but not least any of the sustainable fabrics can and are grown here in the US and can manufactured here as well.
    green washing is real and it annoys the hell out me too, but that doen't mean sustainable gear is a myth.
    Im surprised at the lack creativity and will to try something different in the outdoor community.

    #1693601
    HkNewman
    BPL Member

    @hknewman

    Locale: The West is (still) the Best

    As a Patagonia consumer, #1 is their performance with my skin type (vs. their competitors have been less comfortable w/less "wickiness" for me – YMMV) but I also like the fact their products have recycled content and can be recycled after they can no longer be used (for me this occurs via thorn bushes). For my money, recycled content is important but only if the product works; the combination of recycled materials, light weight, and up-to-date/"state-of-the-art" design would be very attractive. So how about "all of the above"?

    Another green theme may be how long the product lasts and/or whether it can be reused if the original buyer decides to sell/donate it. ADD: Could someone using the same Jansport 1983 external frame backpack for the past 25+ years be considered "green"?

    #1693615
    T kawa
    Member

    @kitsune

    ooh fun… I don't think the onus for better practices can be placed on the consumer totally, yes we "vote" with our purchases, but companies should have some of the responsibility for putting out eco freindly products, not just profit maximizing.
    anywho, I think the restrictions on growing hemp really exacerbates the US's wastefulness. I'm sure with enough effort hemp gear could be made lighter and what's more sustainable? I wonder if you can make clothes out of kudzu?

    That being said I like my Peak pack (it's my travel/day pack/sometiems work pack, doubt I'd use it for backpacking), but it is from overseas (right?), so I'm not sure how much that recycled content offsets the cost in petroleum to get it to me…=)

    anyone want to go hug some trees in hemp shirts with me?

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