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OU Gear Impact Study, Winter 2009

OU Gear Impact Study, Winter 2009



Quarter-long group experiential project for REC 601: Contemporary Issue in Recreation.

Quarter-long group experiential project for REC 601: Contemporary Issue in Recreation.



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  • Consumers are starting to demand conscientiousness on the part of the manufacturers, and gross sales of organic products were projected to increase 250% from 2000 to 2007 (Wright, 2005c)Patagonia- “launch” a product- run through the kind of data shared. Video????KEEN report card- link to it????Others- sample given in papers, or ask class members to share what they knowPatagonia recently joined with Toray, the world’s leading fiber and textile company who reports $12 billion in annual sales, to implement chemical recycling of nylon 6 (DiCullo, 2007). Sierra Designs recently added their “Green Effect” program, implementing five principles “of practicing and promoting a harmonious relationship between its business word and the outdoor world” (Pluss, 2007, p. 1). Chaos has brought us domestic organic wool (Wright, 2005b), Chaco has debuted a water-based urethane adhesive (Knutson, n.d.), Timberland has incorporated recycled rubber outsoles and organic cotton liners in 80% of their shoes, and SmartWool now uses hormone-free and free-range sheep (Lindsey, 2008).
  • 1st round emails sent on Jan. 25th. If replies were received, follow up correspondence aimed at delving deeper into the information provided. If a company stated that they emphasized recycling, we sought information on content, quantity, and practices.
  • THIS WONT WORK, I cant get it to copy & paste right. As it is now, it will not show up properly when put on a pc. Trust me, this happened in my presentation for robins class.
  • Same thing, cant get pie charts to copy properly. Ugh.
  • Because there is no one solution for the issue of sustainability and corporate transparency, we seek to educate the public so that they can make more educated decisions, especially surrounding their purchases of gear from these 32 companies.  By disseminating the information that companies readily provide and co-existent issues of transparency, we hope to promote further transparency of companies’ environmental impacts. Our goal is to disseminate the information we have gathered by building a website which will display a summary of basic trends found in our data.  Explanation of the trends will come in the form of written expression and graphics such as tables and charts.  Much of the information displayed on the website will mainly be content from this Power Point, along with any supplemental graphics that may prove helpful when summarizing.  Links to important documents will be placed on the website so that users have full access to our data and report.
  • #2. The time limits placed on the study precluded the pursuit of more in-depth conversation; lack of both time and resources did not allow us to follow through on formal requests for information, such as the one proposed by Oakley. Furthermore had this been an officially sponsored study, companies may have been more willing to share information; an unclear initial goal made it difficult for us to express fully to each company how the information would ultimately be used or disseminated, also impacting the willingness of companies to share information.#3. In terms of gathering information, we found that websites do not necessarily represent accuracy in terms of a company’s stated mission and their execution of said mission. For example, Atomic’s website includes an environmental aspect in its mission but does not explain further what they are doing to fulfill this mission; however upon phone conversation, we discovered that Atomic is indeed fulfilling this mission in a variety of ways. Because most of our information was gathered through websites, it cannot be assumed that a company is not making environmental efforts simply because these efforts are not stated explicitly on the webpage.
  • Unintended outcomes: got some companies started thinking about this- seeing importance of looking into/knowing this info

OU Gear Impact Study, Winter 2009 OU Gear Impact Study, Winter 2009 Presentation Transcript

  • Ohio University Gear Impact Study
    Mathew L. Austin
    Janene Giuseffi
    Gracie Sorbello
    REC 601
    13 Mar 2009
  • Introduction
    Wanted to combine the gear we “know” and how it impacts the environment
    Current environmental practices related to the environment and manufacturing
  • Project Goal
    Evolving process
    Focus on primary data
    Manufacturer’s transparency
    Willingness to share/communicate
    Do companies back up claims of environmentalism?
    If so, how?
  • Methods
    32 Companies selected
    Source: Outside Magazine 2009 Winter “Essentials”
    Companies include:
    Adidas, Alpina, Asics, Atomic, BackCountryAccess, Big Agnes, Black Diamond, Brooks, Cloudveil, Craft, Easton, Fischer, Gnu, Granite Gear, Ibex, Kayland, Kombi, Madshus, Millet, Mountain Hardwear, Movement, Nike, Oakley, Outdoor Research, Pearl Izumi, Petzel, Rab, Rossignol, Saucony, Sugoi, Suunto, The North Face
  • Methods
    To Whom It May Concern,
    I am a grad student in Recreation Studies at Ohio University and am attempting to gain some information about the top outdoor gear companies as part of the O.U. Impact Study.  We are investigating the impacts that outdoor gear companies have on the environment; we would like to know if, and how, [insert company name] keeps stock of the effects it has on the environment through the various aspects such as production, materials usage, energy consumption, etc. We are hoping to get this information as soon as possible, and look forward to further correspondence.
    Gracie Sorbello
    Ohio University
    School of Recreation and Sport Sciences
  • Methods
    Content Analysis
    Company Profile: product line, history, mission, other pertinent information
    Easily Accessible Information: information pertaining to the company’s environmental actions
    Communication History: outline of out contact with the company
  • M
  • M
  • Sample Responses
    “Thank you for your interest in Oakley. Please mail your request with a description of the requested documents/info, school name, questionnaire, and a brief summery pertaining to how the said documents/info would be used.  Although all requests are reviewed, depending on the circumstances not all receive a response. You can mail your request to:  Oakley Attn: Marketing Department [address]
       Sincerely, Allen ”
  • Samples Responses
    Outdoor Research:
    “Thanks for your interest in Outdoor Research. At this point we are active members of the Outdoor Industry Association Eco Working Group. As part of the group we are committed to finding solutions that will lead to positive and measurable societal change and will significantly improve our environmental footprint.  The overall mission of the EWG is to take a leadership role to develop environmental impact evaluation tools, programs, education and communication to stakeholders and consumers that will direct product life cycle and informed purchasing decisions. You can learn more about the EWG here www.outdoorindustry.org/eco.
  • Atomic
    1/26, Dr. Georg Bauer, Director of R&D, in Austria contacted us . Outlined factory location, efforts to recycle manufacturing waste, use renewable energy in the manufacturing process, and their efforts to reduce carbon footprints.
    1/29 We replied, asking for more details.
    2/6 Georg replied, apologizing for lateness, and suggested we schedule a phone call.
    2/17- 45 minute phone call. Lots of details on environmental efforts and awareness of environmental impacts.
    2/17- PowerPoint presentation was shared.
  • Action Plan
    Education/awareness > specific “grades” or recommendations
    Sharing & disseminating information
    Let consumers make their own informed choices
    Summary and specific data
    Links to further personal investigation
  • Limitations
    Sample size
    Lack of time & resources
    Mode of communication & information gathering
    Inconsistency of 3 separate voices in second tier response
    Interpretation of info by 3 people (content analysis)
  • Discussion
    3 general trends
    Raw materials, recycling, processes, waste
    Energy efficiency
    reduction in carbon & GHG emissions
    Alternative energy
    Collaboration or donation to environmental advocacy groups
  • General Trends
    Big Agnes: diverted over 500,000 16-oz. plastic bottles that were headed for a landfill & recycled them into their Re-Routt collection of camping materials
    Fischer: reduced overall solvent use by incorporating a water-soluble varnish for their skis
  • General Trends
    Energy efficiency
    Easton Snowshoes: offset 100% of their power usage by supporting wind energy.
    Atomic: moved manufacturing locations from China to Austria after a company-wide environmental impact analysis proved that the carbon footprint of gear produced in China was twice that of Austria.
  • General Trends
    Outdoor Research: member of Outdoor Industry Association Eco Working Group, an organization dedicated to changing the outdoor industry in positive environmental ways
    Many companies donate to LNT, Access Fund, Conservation Society and other local organizations
  • Conclusions
    Company Structure
    Our queries were sent to various different departments within each company:
    Marketing (Oakley)
    Sales (Cloudveil)
    Research and Development (Atomic)
    Limited transparency
    Trade secrets
    Power of consumers
    Importance of education
  • Future Research
    What are the motivations of companies to make environmentally responsible changes?
    More companies in sample
    3rd party agency
    Certifying body for outdoor gear’s environmental impact