August 7, 2018 Together we are a force
The Outdoor Industry Association steps up its advocacy and sustainability game at this year’s Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, demonstrating that when the outdoor industry stands together, it’s a force to be reckoned with.
The outdoor industry’s position as leader in sustainability has largely been taken as a given, an unqualified assumption based more on impressions than fact. And when asking how one outdoor company’s sustainability efforts stand against another company’s, the type of response one could expect would be “uhh, we’re definitely not up there with Company A, but are certainly not as bad as Companies X, Y and Z.” Well, that has all just changed at this year’s Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Denver. Here, the OIA’s Sustainability Working Group (SWG) launched the very first industry-wide sustainability benchmarking report called the “State of Sustainability in the Outdoor Industry,” which aims to establish a baseline upon which the outdoor industry can measure its sustainability performance.
“The outdoor industry has done a fantastic job flexing the muscles of the $887 billion outdoor recreation economy to protect our public lands,” said Beth Jensen, senior director of sustainable business innovation at OIA. “Now it’s time to showcase how we have led on another core effort that directly connects to environmental conservation: product and supply chain responsibility. This first-ever comprehensive industry report begins to do just that, and our goal is to use this – and future reports – to measure progress, identify areas for improvement and illustrate the importance of sustainable practices as a business imperative.”
Vote the Outdoors
With the US 2018 mid-term elections approaching fast, the OIA also used this year’s OR Summer Market as a launchpad for its “Vote the Outdoors” campaign. According to the association’s press release, the campaign’s goals are “to engage anyone who loves the outdoors, to make information about elected officials’ voting records, public lands and climate change positions easily accessible and arm voters with resources on how they can positively impact their state and local elections.”
The campaign also includes the unveiling of a new tool meant to separate the A-student politicians from the drop-outs, based on their record relating to outdoor issues: the OIA Congressional Scorecard.
“The outdoor industry and anyone concerned about public lands is gearing up and preparing to vote the outdoors in the 2018 election. Voters want to know and need a resource where they can find how their representatives voted on issues like the Land and Water Conservation Fund, climate change and the protection of our public land,” Alex Boian, OIA’s political director, said in a statement.
Together We Are A Force Awards
Earlier this year, the OIA announced the launch of its new Together We Are A Force Awards. “OIA’s purpose is to be a convener and leader for the outdoor industry,” explained Amy Roberts, OIA executive director. “Part of fulfilling that purpose is shining a light on the truly amazing work our members and partner organizations do.”
After receiving more than 60 nominations, a panel of judges composed of OIA staff and industry peers selected and presented the award to winners within three pillar areas: Policy, Sustainability and Participation.
Under “Policy,” a group including OIA members Piragis Northwoods Company, MTI Adventurewear and Patagonia were awarded for their support of the Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness’ Save the Boundary Water Campaign – a three-year adventure advocacy campaign that has sought to protect the Boundary Waters Wilderness from a proposed copper-ore mine.
The North Face, Allied Feather and Down, Textile Exchange, Control Union Certifications, and Downlite received the Sustainability award for their leadership in creating the Responsible Down Standard (RDS).
Finally, the Participation award was presented to a group including The American Hiking Society and Theresa Baker of African American Nature & Parks Experience with support from Vasque and Patagonia for their Hike Like a Girl campaign, which aimed to empower more women to get out on hiking trails.
The OIA will be sponsoring the next Outdoor Retailer Winter Market this November 8-11 in Denver, Colorado.
Photo: Scott Martin