Reducing waste is the key to making adventure equipment more sustainable and repair, restore, repurpose and rescue are 4 ways we can do this.
Do you carry a repair kit when you head out trekking or on tour? I always carry a tiny sewing kit for clothing repairs when travelling but my gear list for long hikes includes a repair kit for the tent or hammock, sleeping mat, sleeping bag, pack, snowshoes, poles and cooker. Care and maintenance increases the life of your gear and clothing and repairs extend the life further. You can do this yourself if you have the time and know how. For bigger holes and large worn out areas i use sew on patches. A patch on the butt is a bit quirky but it gives you another year or more of wear.
Some of the big name brands have heard the call for sustainability in outdoor adventure and responded with repair services and opening up a niche market for restored retro gear and clothing. It is more widespread in countries outside Australia but here we have a business called Remote Equipment Repairs.
Remote Equipment Repairs specialise in “As New” restorations and warranty repairs for all outdoor and adventure equipment.
“Our philosophy is that if we can keep your product going for just 1 more day not only does it reduce landfill but it enables you to continue using your much loved gear for a lot more time to come.
We believe that having the right gear means that you can be confident in the outdoors. Why risk going into the outdoors in a cold dirty sleeping bag and a ripped leaky tent? With some simple maintenance and TLC to your gear your next trip will be much more enjoyable.”
Do you have an appreciative eye for the fun ways people have repurposed their old equipment? What are some of the ways you have reused the things that can’t be repaired or recycled? Some of the creative things i have seen are walking boot pot plants, ski chairs, surfboard fences, bags and ponchos from old tents, neck buffs from old shirts, soft drink cans into fuel stoves and mat weaving and coiling old climbing rope. *feature boot image is from Andrew Bowden at ramblingman.org.uk
While researching this i discovered a company called P365 who use abandoned tents from festivals.
“P+365 is a collection of garments made of discarded tents from music festivals. These items will be sold back in the music festival to create a circular business so people are more conscious of this issue.”
Rescue is the most interesting and can be interpreted in any way you like but fort he purpose of this post I’m thinking of rescuing perfectly good abandoned materials and making something out of them. Tyvek is a popular fabric used on building sites. It is tough and very light. The off cuts and roll ends are usually thrown into the bin. These can be rescued and used to make bags, tarps, ponchos, groundsheets and footprints for your tent. Another common building castoff is insulating silver foil bubble sheeting. This can be rescued and used to make very light padded bags for you laptop and phone or an excellent insulating liner in your hammock.
Reinvent your equipment to better serve its purpose or redesign it for multipurpose. If you can see a more efficient way to carry or use something you own, tweak it, don’t replace it.
All this is part of the circular economy. As the problems of waste, landfill, ocean pollution and animals dying from ingesting plastics increase we need to be adapting by creating new habits and better informed choices.
So, what choices can we make? In the first 4 parts of this series about ethical consumerism in outdoor adventure we have covered giving gifts that are needed or making a donation to a cause, recycling, hiring, repairing, restoring, repurposing, rescuing and reinventing. Can you think of anything else?
Before you buy anything new consider whether you really need it, can you hire it, can you save money and buy it from a 2nd hand shop, is the old item repairable, can you make a new one yourself and what will you do with the old item when you replace it.
Do some research into the companies who sell what you need. Are you investing in a brand who gives back to the environment or helps out communities? Is it a durable quality which will last a long time? How much thought and care has gone into the design? Can they custom make their products for your specific needs? Do they do repairs or take back their old products for recycling?
In the next few posts of this series I will be looking more closely at ethical outdoor and adventure businesses and some of the things to consider when buying new clothing and equipment.