It’s safe to say there is no shortage of corporate social responsibility (CSR) within the outdoor industry. Consumers and enthusiasts continue to express their concerns for the environment and society (reflecting their core values), and companies continue to listen. And respond.
The outdoor industry serves as a model for the healthy relationships brands and loyalists should have across all industries, one that provides purpose and reward beyond the physical product — gratification from supporting a company that funds recycling programs or outdoor access, as an example.
Especially true for the outdoor industry, CSR continues to be a differentiator for consumers – a factor influencing positive perception among loyalists and consumers. As a recent study conducted by CONE Communications found, Americans expect companies to address divisive issues, driving necessary change on environmental and social factors as progress slows from government. Most interesting, this survey concluded that 76% of respondents claimed they would refuse to purchase a product if the brand/company didn’t support their beliefs:
“Seven-in-10 Americans believe companies have an obligation to take actions to improve issues that may not be relevant to everyday business operations.”
Again, the transparency between companies and consumers within the outdoor industry allows us to make sense of and relate to these statistical findings. And in doing so, you and I (as outdoor enthusiasts) can fairly easy identify the brands that are most commonly associated with CSR: Patagonia, REI, MEC, Black Diamond and The North Face, to name a handful.
These companies are all skilled at making and selling some of the best products money can buy for adventure-seekers, and I’d argue that they are even better at promoting their CSR efforts in the form of campaigns and projects. If I say the word “Patagonia,” what comes to mind? Most likely, you think of the iconic outdoor brand currently taking “the fight” to the American government over public lands; the southernmost stretch of South America joining Argentina and Chile didn’t even come to mind.
The projects and campaigns created by Patagonia and REI are so effective they change the status quo across other, non-related industries — Black Friday policies for employees is an example of this.
Although I support and appreciate these robust, policy-altering initiatives with pride, I’m also aware that hundreds if not thousands of other companies are working tirelessly on campaigns and projects that speak to the very same causes as the ‘big guys.” Due to their smaller size, however, many of these campaigns physically integrate customer values and the brand experience more seamlessly, offering a one of a kind user experience. So, although Gearminded may not offer the podium necessary for global recognition, it is adding that little bit of extra attention to worthy projects; and this just might be enough to expose them to the right person.
As the first list curated campaigns, these 10 projects are inspiring positive change for people and the outdoors in 2018:
Pela Case — A Case for the Environment
The makers of these plant-based, recycled-plastic phone cases didn’t set out to create an mobile-phone accessory business; they wanted to build a brand to be proud of, one that:
- Reduce the amount of plastic waste created by consumer products
- Alleviate our dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels and oil-based plastics
- Educate people about plant-based, sustainable alternatives that are both functional and beautiful
- Build the kind of company our customers would be proud to rally behind
Their ongoing campaign, Pela created Pay it Forward Program straight through to their referral process. When you purchase a Pela Case, you’ll get a special referral link to share with friends and family. Anytime anyone buys a Pela Case from this link, they donate $3 to a selection of charities partnered with their referral program.
Designing North Studios — #gohumanity2018
Designing North Studios is leading an inclusive campaign celebrating people everywhere making a difference with small. Just knowing about the small things that people do everyday can get us all back to ‘feeling better’ after a challenging year. Feeling ready. Feeling humanity. Visit their wall of good news, and join the conversation by tagging your content with #gohumanity2018.
LuminAID — Give Light, Get Light Initiative
Buy a light for yourself, and sponsor a light to be distributed by one of their charitable partners for disaster relief. LuminAID’s relief efforts are focusing on communities affected by hurricanes in the Caribbean. 1.6 billion people around the world lack proper access to electricity. Many of these people are forced to rely upon dangerous, toxic, and expensive kerosene lanterns as their primary source of light. Through our Give Light, Get Light program, we partner with NGOs and non-profits all over the world to distribute LuminAID Lights to individuals who will greatly benefit from a safe, rechargeable light source.
Animal League — Tour For Life
Tour For Life® is hitting the road! Now in it’s 18th year, the world’s largest cooperative lifesaving pet adoption event is once again criss-crossing America to help adoptable dogs, cats, puppies and kittens find loving, responsible homes. Sponsored by Purina®, Animal League teamed up with shelter and rescue groups in 50 cities and 37 states.
Greenpeace — Protect the Arctic Campaign
In partnership with Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources [CCAMLR], and the EU, Greenpeace is campaigning for a protected sanctuary in international waters around the North Pole as part of a network of protected areas across the Arctic Ocean. The Save The Arctic movement asks world leaders to create a global sanctuary in the uninhabited area around the North Pole, and to ban oil drilling and destructive fishing in Arctic waters. Join the movement that is making a difference and show the world that you will stand for the Arctic for as long as it takes.
The American Wild Horse Campaign — #JoinTheBand
The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) is dedicated to preserving American wild horses and burros in viable free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage.
Their goal is to protect America’s wild horses and burros by stopping the federal government’s systematic elimination of these national icons from our public lands. It’s not too late to act to save the mustangs!
Mountain Safety Research — MSR Global Health Initiatives
Many of us are used to the taste of chlorine in our water. In fact, we might not even notice it because it’s been added to our tap for years. But for people in developing countries who are unfamiliar with it, the taste of chlorine is foreign, and can even be frightening. This poses a problem for emergency crews who use chlorine to treat local water supplies following disasters to ensure it’s safe to drink.
“The local people think they’re being poisoned or even given birth control because the water tastes strange to them,” says Scott Youmans, design engineer for MSR & MSR Global Health. “It causes a real tension between the response workers and the communities they’re trying to help.”
To ease these tensions, the U.S. military turned to MSR, the leader in backcountry water treatment technology, for a device that could remove the chlorine taste before the water is distributed to the local communities in need.
The Zion Forever Project — Visitor Experience Initiative
The fundamental purpose of Zion National Park is to preserve the dramatic geology including Zion Canyon and the labyrinth of deep Navajo sandstone canyons formed by extraordinary erosion at the margin of the Colorado Plateau; to safeguard the park’s wilderness character and its wild and scenic river values. The Zion Forever Project aims to do this by breaking the overall restoration and and conservation challenge down into smaller projects, identifying specific goals that also serve to enhance the visitor experience to the park.
MacGillivray Freeman Films — One World One Ocean Campaign
The One World One Ocean global multi-media campaign is reshaping how people think about the ocean, and MacGillivray Freeman Films is inspiring action to protect it. Using the power of film, television, new media, and education, they are building a strong community that supports ocean education and conservation. They have teamed up with some of the most iconic brands in the world to bring ocean stories to wider audiences than ever — fueling a global ocean awareness campaign uses movies, TV, and digital media to engage millions of people with a vision for a healthy ocean.
Parks Project — Leave it Better Than you Found it Initiative
Parks Project was created as a plan to create collections of park goods that directly fund backlogged projects in the parks. Each product purchased contributes directly to one of over 30 different conservancies across the USA, providing vital funding for the ongoing care of National Parks. For all that these places give to us, we want to give something back. That’s why they are taking action. It’s pretty simple: you support with a purchase and part of that purchase funds revitalization projects in our parks. A true win-win.
If you enjoyed reading about these projects for ‘good,’ please let us know. And if you have a project you would like to share with us, please send that over — we’d be happy to share.
The research results used in this article were sourced from a 2017 survey conducted by Cone Communications: