REI pursuing sustainability – getting rid of the polybags

When thinking about the sustainability of REI’s operations, the complexity of the task quickly becomes apparent. Where does a person start?

Our annual stewardship report details one such area: our efforts to reduce REI’s waste-to-landfill.

We conducted a retail waste audit to better understand the details. To paint a picture, imagine this: Our teams literally went “dumpster diving” to get a real behind-the-scenes look at our trash.

We confirmed what our retail employees had long assumed—plastic garment bags (also called polybags) were a major issue.

A long-time retail industry standard—or, “the way it was always done”—has been to protect clothing in plastic bags during transport to stores. For example, a seemingly inexpensive bag that held a $100 sweater was removed and discarded when it reached our shelves for customers.

That’s where we parted ways with our standard practice.

While we started to reduce the number of bags for REI-brand products, that was only a small part of the challenge. Considering other brand products make up about 80% of what the co-op sells, we needed partners to make a big difference.

One great brand we work with is prAna, the California-based climbing and yoga apparel company. It turns out that people at prAna had been asking themselves the same question.

 

 

Read the full storyPursuing Sustainability at REI: Eliminating What Shoppers Don’t See Delivers a Big Win

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