Letter from Jerry Stritzke
05.01.2015


We believe an outdoor life is a life well lived. That single, simple idea unites our community, no matter where you’re from or what your political beliefs are. Seeking adventure and finding ourselves in the outdoors drives a virtuous cycle. We believe that life outside is better for us as individuals, better for society and ultimately, better for the planet. That is what unites us at REI.
We are a cooperative. Each of our 5.5 million active members owns an equal part of REI. Our co-op structure means that each member is a steward of REI. That’s a great strength, because our members keep us focused on the long-term good of the outdoor community in every decision we make. It means that our community has both the permission and the power to be a force for good.
Our belief in the broader social purpose of business is why we use the word “stewardship” to talk about sustainable business. The word “steward” reminds us that we are taking care of something that came before us and will be sustained long after we are gone (both the co-op and the outdoors). It carries weight at REI, anchoring our core purpose: to inspire, educate and outfit for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship.
If you love the outdoors, then you scheme and dream about your next adventure. We do, too. So, paired with this 2014 Stewardship Report, we are introducing a new, broader construct for our future stewardship efforts. We believe that REI can exert greater positive influence as we grow, so we refined and broadened our view of stewardship to encompassProductAccessExperiences and Core Practices. In their letter to members, Eric Artz (COO) and Vik Sahney (Strategy) explain more about the work that lies ahead.
As you will see from our 2014 report, stewardship at REI already goes beyond reporting our operational impact. It is about how we work with our vendor partners to innovate and how we invest - through hundreds of non-profits - in the inspiring places that make life outdoors possible. Ultimately, stewardship should improve the lives of our employees and members. To help you understand these efforts better, this year we share a few short stories that bring stewardship at REI to life.
We believe strongly in the role we play helping our members dream about their next adventure. Our responsibility is to help them do that, confident in the knowledge that the choices REI makes will positively benefit the outdoors and society - not unnecessarily damage it for future generations.
For REI, being a sustainable business is integral to being a co-op. We encourage you, our members, to get involved because it takes a community to make it real.
See you outside,
Jerry Stritzke
President and CEO
 

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