How to stretch your gear to the limit
We love making gear that helps you get out and enjoy all the wilderness has to offer — but we need to come clean about something: manufacturing gear can be a dirty, dirty business.
By some estimates, the fashion industry as a whole is responsible for 10% of all global carbon emissions, 20% of global wastewater, and responsible for untold losses of wildlife and biodiversity.
So while we’re committed to doing everything we can to lessen our own impact, we want to share some tips to make your gear last longer, perform better, and, ultimately, leave behind less waste.
1. Choose The Right stuff
Reducing your environmental impact starts with choosing gear that’s made with the right materials. We know everyone wants to save money and who doesn’t love a great deal but our philosophy is, buy the best gear you can afford and care for it properly. Check the tags or websites of gear you’re considering buying to get an understanding of what goes into its manufacturing and materials.
If you see the word “synthetic” as part of the materials, you can trust that that piece of clothing or outerwear is going to take ages to decompose in a landfill, We know, depending on your activity or sport, you can’t entirely get away from gear that uses petrochemical materials, if you’re going to purchase equipment that uses synthetics, make sure they are using non virgin recycled synthetics that can be recycled again at the end of it’s useful life.
Many eco-conscious brands have already flipped to using more sustainable materials to build their products. At Wild Unlimited, we use recyclable and compostable fabrics made from renewable sources like hemp and wool.
Our hemp and cotton come from farms that adhere to strict, organic growing standards, and our wool comes from farms that practice regenerative agriculture to ensure the land their sheep graze on is cared for properly.
The benefit of opting for gear made with eco-conscious materials isn’t just that it's better for the planet (though it definitely is — so that’s a good enough reason to do it).
It’s also that, like with all things in our world, you vote with your dollar. The more we all choose to support, fund and even demand sustainable practices, the more it shifts the industry mindset and forces bad actors or traditional suppliers to alter their practices to match that demand.
2. treat it right
We’ve all been guilty at one point or another of getting home from a camping or fishing trip, tossing our dirty gear into the garage or basement, and thinking we’ll deal with it later — only to forget about it until we go to pull it out for our next adventure.
But that time it spends waiting to be cleaned and stored properly has a real cost, both in terms of performance and its lifespan.
Taking care of gear might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s one of the easiest ways to make sure your equipment doesn’t reach the end of its life before it needs to. .
Simple things like cleaning your gear according to the directions and storing it in a cool dry place can make a huge difference in the long run.
In addition to everyday care, there are plenty of things you can do to rehab or inject new life into your favorite pieces of equipment. When your rain jacket or outerlayers starts to suffer “wetting out,” give it a new coating of DWR (that’s “durable water-repellent” – look for fluorocarbon-free formulas).
Just wash the garments to remove body oils and old dirt with a PFC free DWR wash and enjoy your rejuvenated piece of equipment. We like Grangers wash and repel because it’s PFC free and Bluesign approved.
Another way to treat your gear right is to repair it when it rips or tears. Plenty of outdoor retailers offer simple solutions for repairing damaged products.
Patagonia backs all their products with an Ironclad guarantee that allows you to return or repair any item, at any time. REI offers resources for a wide range of repairs, including sewing, boot repair, and skiing/snowboard repairs.
At Wild Unlimited we design our products to be easily repairable as well, and we’re happy to help you repair parts and pieces as you go, so that one worn-out spot doesn’t mean disaster for your favorite piece of gear.
3. give it a proper goodbye
Even after choosing products with the right materials, repairing as you go, and treating your gear with care, there comes a point where it’s finally time to say goodbye.
It can be tough, because at that point you’ve probably got quite a few fond memories of fishing, hiking, or camping with it, but it can be a little easier if you know that getting rid of that hoodie or puffy coat is going to have the smallest impact possible – like if you’ve chosen a product made with sustainable, compostable materials.
Like other sustainably-centered companies, we here at Wild Unlimited offer end of life solutions for your products, making it easy for you to send in your garments so that we can resell them to someone else, or recycle the parts and pieces that still have use into new products or fixes for existing ones.
Like we said at the top — the fashion and equipment industry can be a dirty business. But with the right steps, and the right choices, we can all lessen our impact and keep our planet more wild and a little less dirty.