Our choices matter, and that applies to everything from how we travel, to the kind of gear we buy and use. Here’s our guide to buying less and buying better.
The effects of fast fashion are well documented, with 4% of global carbon emissions coming from the fashion and textile industry. While the industry has a lot of work to do, we can acknowledge that we all buy and consume more than we need, with the equivalent of a rubbish truck load of clothes being burnt or buried in landfill every second.
The first step, then, in becoming a more conscious travel-goods consumer, is to simply buy less, and thankfully a range of rental companies have sprung up in recent years to meet an increase in demand. The benefits of rental are clear, both from a cost and environmental perspective: tent rentals, for example, can cost from as little as £5 per day and renting them means they have a higher usage rate, while the overall volume of materials needed and resources used is significantly reduced.
In Europe, Decathlon offers a rental service for all its outdoors gear, including sleeping bags, tents and baby carriers from around €8 per day, as well as handy one-click packages which cover all the equipment you need for activities such as skiing or wild camping. In the US, Xscape Pod has similar outdoors packs aimed at backpackers and campers, including tents, sleeping bags, cooking equipment, first aid kits and water filters.
If you do buy new, consider where you buy from. One of the best-known sustainable outdoor brands is Patagonia, a company which was last year famously donated to a charitable trust by its billionaire founder to fight climate change. Its marketing has for many years focussed on making consumers think hard about if and what they need to buy, and the company has transparent environmental and social responsibility credentials, as well as a complimentary repair service. They are also introducing new waterproofing that is free of polluting and carcinogenic per- and polyfluorinated chemicals.
There are a number of smaller companies doing good work, too. In the UK, Three Peaks is a small producer in South Wales which creates hardy backpacks using 100% recycled plastic bottles, while B Corp-certified Finisterre, founded by Cornish surfers, offers tough outdoor gear built to last. The company is refreshingly transparent about its supply chain, and uses renewable and recycled materials, such as natural rubber for its wetsuits, repurposed ocean plastics for swimwear, and recycled nylon, polyester, cotton and wool in everything from t-shirts to fleeces.
In the US, luggage company Paraval has a robust sustainability ethos, using 100% recycled materials in its luxury suitcases and totes, including “negative nylon” which has utilised over 5.5 million post-consumer plastic bottles to date. Big name brands are also getting in on the game. Samsonite, for example, has an eco-range made using 100% recycled post-consumer waste, as does Tumi, while Merrell offers a hiking shoe that features a recycled upper, laces, lining, sole and footbed.