Rethink – it means to leave well-known and old-fashioned patterns of thought, to maybe judge various subjetcs anew and, in the end, to rethink them. Our impetus, which started the process of rethinking, was the conviction to do significantly more for the environment and our future. Yet, we relatively quickly had to acknowledge the complexity and versatility of this topic. There are neither simple, nor are there quickly realizable solutions. So, we´ve probably embarked on a rather long journey with our WIR DENKEN UM (corresponds to: we change our ways) campaign. This is why we consider our initiative as the first – and fairly important – step in the right direction, and prepare for a challenging way, which is designed as a step by step approach to optimize sustainability, responsibility toward the community and environmental awareness.
Together to the finish line
It can certainly be said that the issue of environmental awareness really has had a great impact on sports retailers – and is currently talked about everywhere within the industry. In many ways, this opened up our eyes. Consequently, we´ve integrated numerous suppliers and partners into our initiative. This proved to be fairly easy since many of them have been focusing on the issue of sustainability within their product range for many years. So, we´ve found many like-minded companies, which encouraged us to consequently move in our new direction.
It is exactly this kind of cooperation that is crucial for a successful implementation of the WIR DENKEN UM idea. While there was no way of winning this battle on our own, by forming cooperations, everybody profits from helpful synergies. Solutions can be found collectively and experiences are shared. We are ctitical enough to say that we are rather in a position – at least at the moment – in which we can learn an aweful lot from others. We´re trying to catch up on this backlog demand by gathering information about issues, such as raw material preserving processes or fair production conditions, from several companies that have been promoting the issue of sustainability for a longer time than we have. By taking a closer look at some progressive companies and learning from their proven concepts, we try to make an advantage out of a disadvantage.
Who all gets awarded with the label – and how do they get it?
Of course, there are also some intriguing advantages we can offer our partners. It all starts with the fact that not every manufacturer is awarded our WIR DENKEN UM label, rather than those which offer extraordinarily sustainable and environmentally-friendly products. The criteria, which companies have to meet in order to be awarded our label, were determined by us. The current collection and the products we ordered were the basis for our evaluation. It should also be mentioned that our label is not a hundred-percent guarantee that all products from a certain manufacturer are environmentally-friendly. Nevertheless, we want to provide responsible manufacturers with an attractive platform for their products – and environmentally conscious customers with an excellent alternative. Naturally, we want to support all those companies which join us on our path. Products from these companies are marked with the WIR DENKEN UM label. It is our goal to significantly increase the number of these articles. But: what are the exact criteria?
Companies meeting 4 of the 7 requirements qualify for our label. For example, logistics play a crucial role. Are there short, environmentally preserving ways of transportation and supply chains? How high is the percentage of recycled and organic materials in the production? Also, we consider social aspects in the process of manufacturing and the company´s transparency. The following criteria are pivotal in order to be awarded with our WIR DENKEN UM label:
- At least 50% EU-production and short ways of transportation
- At least a 50% share of recycled materials
- Renewable raw materials, no mulesing with wool
- Partner of Blue Sign and/or FairWear
- Repair service/ resoling
- PFC-free in at least 50% of the ordered products
- Traceability and transparency, such as TrackMyDown, Wool promise, Re:Down
These companies have received the WIR DENKEN UM label: ABS, Chillaz, CMP, Contour, Deuter, Doghammer, Dotout, Dynafit, Edelrid, Elevenate, Exped Fjällräven, Grüezi bag, Haglöfs, Hanwag, Houdini, Icebreaker, Jones Snowboards, Kari Traa, Kohla, La Sportiva, Leki, Lowa, Maloja, Mandala, Meindl, Mountain Equipment, Norröna, Odlo, Ortovox, P.A.C., Patagonia, Peak Performance, Red Chili, Scarpa, Salewa, Schöffel, Tentree, Ternua, THERM-A-REST and Vaude.
Our goals and how we want to reach them – contributing to our planet´s health in the long run
The greater goal is to fight Global Warming in the mid- and long-run, in order to make our planet more worth living and improve working conditions. This goal has its roots in our love for nature, the snowy winters in our area, the woods, meadows and rivers. We think that it would be unfair, if our children and grandchildren could not also feel enchanted by this exact sublime nature. Ever since our thought process doesn´t center around quarters rather than generations, there is no use in hiding and keeping a blind eye on the current grievances in terms of sustainability. This is why we´re ready to leave well-known paths and walk on new ones.
For example, we´ve stopped to conduct our foto shootings abroad. Now, we simply stay in our scenic area. Concerning our catalogues, we´re really keen on preserving nature as well. This is why there will be less pages. So, there is less paper to manufacture – and to throw away later! Also, we reconsidered the entire production process of our catalogue. Now, we´re cooperating with the Regensburg based company Niedermayr and use the most environmentally-friendly printing process in Germany. From the print shop to the paper, the colors and all the way to the packaging foil: everything is certified with the environmental seal Blauer Engel (corresponds to: Blue Angel).
As you can see, the WIR DENKEN UM initiative is not only about the actual selling of the commodities, but also about internal processes which we´ll tackle and optimize step by step. In all stores for example, we´ll convert all lighting systems to energy-saving LEDs. Another aspect is packaging. Our shipping department will only be dispatching recycling cardboard in the future. Also, ski bindings will be protected by cardboard cubes, instead of the plastic ones. Addtitional, rather long-term projects are specific trainings for our employees in terms of waste management or recyclable product alternatives. These are no over-night adjustments, but we won´t let us get deflected from our mid- and long-term goals.
Finally: what are some of the go-to materials?
Of course, there is also a lot of specific knowledge to be learnt concerning our initiative. Who is supposed to know, that Modal is made of renewable beechwood and a genuine callulose fiber? Or that the use of recycled material lowers the pollution of the air, water and soil? Did you know, that only five recycled soda bottles yield sufficient yarn for an extra-large shirt? In order to light up the dark a little bit, here is a short introduction to three especially environmentally preserving materials:
Lyocell, also known as Tencel®, is an industrially manufactured fiber, made of organic raw materials. It is made of wood and organically degradable. The soft fiber provides pleasant warmth and breathability, it furthermore regulates the transport of moisture in a natural manner. Furthermore, even when wet, Lyocell is extremely tear-proof and, thus, a very durable material. What´s so special about the manufacturing of Lyocell is, that this process is environmentally preserving due to the use of environmentally-friendly thinner and a closed cycle of materials. Lyocell is the generic denomination of the fiber and is offered under the brand label Tencel by Lenzing AG.
Modal is made of beechwood and a genuine cellulose fiber: the raw material gets decorticated, separated into small chips and prepared. The result is a honey-like mass, which is pressed through micro-fine jets, and this is how these fibers are woven. This process may be conducted purely industrially. This is why Modal, despite its organic origins, is considered as a chemical- and synthetic-fiber. Modal fibers can be woven in an especially thin way and thus convince due to a soft carrying comfort. Additinally, they are elastic and shape-retaining. Their quick transport of moisture makes them outstandingly popular within the outdoor sports industry.
To conclude, here is a short introduction to the bluesign® and Fair Wear certifications.
The Fair Wear Foundation is all about the creation of enduring improvements of working conditions within the textile industry. It´s a nonprofit organization, which cooperates with various partners. Among these are NGOs, corporations and governments. The goal is to find long-term solutions. Fair Wear regularly inspects production sites, conducts interviews with workers and reports publicly about any possible progress of its partners. This is supposed to be the basis for an enduring improvement of the working conditions along the supply chains of the respective corporations. The organization´s focus clearly lies on sewing, which embodies the most labor-intensive sector and in which workers are, time and again, the victims of working and human rights violations.
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