SEATTLE – This week, REI, the nation’s largest consumer co-op and specialty outdoor retailer, briefed outdoor and sustainability thought leaders on its enhanced 2014 Stewardship report, the ninth since REI began publishing detailed reports for its members. The 2014 Stewardship report provides employees, members and the broader sustainability community with a deep-dive into the co-op’s social and environmental performance. The new report includes an infographic capturing progress in 2014.
The co-op’s progress this past year includes a continued commitment to bluesign® (an independent certification that eliminates harmful substances from the manufacturing process) for REI private label products, investing in more than 300 nonprofit partners that care for more than 600 outdoor places and receiving a 2014 Green Power Leader Award from the EPA in honor of sourcing 100 percent renewable energy.
REI’s stewardship efforts can be traced back to the first days of the co-op. REI was founded in 1938 by 23 mountaineers who went in search of a high quality, good-value ice axe, which they sourced from Austria and made available to their friends. In various ways, the REI community has given back to the outdoors for more than 75 years. As co-op membership has grown steadily over time–now to 5.5 million active members–so have efforts to formalize and scale the co-op’s stewardship initiatives.
Looking ahead, REI’s stewardship initiatives are focused on four areas:
- Curating products
- Creating access to inspiring outdoor places
- Catalyzing outdoor experiences
- Strengthening the foundation of core sustainability practices in business operations
“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,” said Jerry Stritzke, REI president and CEO. “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.”
Additional highlights from REI’s stewardship initiatives in 2014 include:
- Continued to use the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Index, which REI helped to create, to assess sustainability throughout the supply chain
- Published its Private Brands factory partner list
- Invested $4.2 million in more than 300 local, regional and national nonprofits working to care for and improve access to more than 600 inspiring outdoor places
- Awarded $410,000 in grants through The REI Foundation to nonprofit programs dedicated to engaging younger and more diverse populations in the outdoors
- Educated more than 200,000 people through REI Outdoor School
- Enabled more than 100,000 members and other customers to connect with the outdoors in a low-cost and low-impact way through the REI gear rentals program, and kept more than 600,000 pieces of gently used gear in circulation through REI Garage Sales
- Met its commitment to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy through energy efficiency, solar generation, long-term renewable energy contracts, and renewable energy certificates (RECs)
- Became one of 12 original signatories of the Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles, which urge energy suppliers to offer more renewable energy and expand purchasing options; and
- Announced a new employee benefit – REI Yay Days – giving all employees two paid days off per year to participate in a favorite outdoor pursuit or stewardship project
While REI advanced its stewardship commitments last year, it also faced several challenges. As the co-op expanded its store count, workforce size and member base, it recorded improvements in efficiency but overall absolute increases in carbon emissions, energy usage and solid waste. REI is investing in efficiency solutions aimed at addressing these issues. The co-op is also continuing to focus on strengthening its supply chain standards, promoting renewable resources and bringing its community programs to scale.
To learn more about the co-op’s social and environmental initiatives, visit rei.com/stewardship.
REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of 5.5 million active members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips and outstanding customer service. REI has 140 stores in 33 states. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at REI.com, REI.com/outlet or the free REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. You can take the trip of a lifetime with REI Adventures, a global leader in active adventure travel that runs 150 custom-designed itineraries on every continent. REI’s Outdoor School is run by professionally-trained, expert-instructors who teach beginner- to advanced-level courses about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to–and steward–the outdoor places that inspire us.