Not only did REI celebrate its 80th year with record sales of $2.62 billion, but the outdoor retailer also unveiled sustainability standards for the more than 1,000 brands sold at the co-op. While some brands sold through REI, such as Patagonia, are already way ahead of the game in terms of sustainability, smaller brands will get access to help and resources to do the same.
For two years, REI worked on the requirements and implemented them within their own brand products before rolling out to external vendors. The standards cover fair and safe supply chains, chemicals management, land stewardship, animal welfare, and environmental management. For each of these, REI splits the standards into brand expectation — the baseline the brand must meet — as well as preferred attributes like certifications the brand could attain.
Some of the new measures take effect immediately, while the newer standards must be met by 2020. REI will give new brands an 18-month window to adopt the standards and plans to help them with access to best practices.
This efforts highlights the retailer’s belief that the most effective approach for elevating product sustainability is to connect with like-minded organizations to influence the entire ecosystem. “No single brand can move the needle on sustainability alone, but by working together we have the potential to make a big impact,” said Matthew Thurston, REI’s director of sustainability.
On the REI website, you can now shop by sustainability attribute, by searching for terms like “organic cotton” to find clothing made with resource-conserving farming practices, or “fair trade,” which promotes safe, healthy working conditions and sustainable livelihoods as products are created and sold. For more info, you can read REI’s sustainability standards here.