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REI Addresses Climate Change and Equity in the Industry With Bold New Product Standards — Here’s What They Are

REI Co-op is on a mission to advance equity in the outdoor industry and fight climate change. And its looking to its brand partners for help.

The outdoor retail giant revealed its updated REI Product Impact Standards today, which the company said was created to encourage its brand partners — more than 1,000 in total — to engage in more sustainable and inclusive business practices. After debuting as the Product Sustainability Standards in 2018, the 2.0 version now details the co-op’s expectations on addressing carbon reduction, inclusive marketing and cultural designs in their products.

“The products we carry represent our values and one of our greatest opportunities to support better ways of doing business in our industry,” REI VP of product Chris Speyer said in a statement. “We want our members and customers to shop with confidence, knowing that the products they purchase at REI are helping build a better future for the people and places they love.”

The 2.0 version has four major updates from its predecessor.

For starters, REI stated it plans to reduce its carbon footprint by more than half by 2030 and is expecting brand partners to create a plan before the end of 2021 for measuring annual carbon footprint and their actions to reduce emissions embedded in their products.

Also, the co-op set a goal to have 100% of the products on it sells by 2030 to contain a “preferred attribute,” which brands can find on its newly-expanded list of third-party certifications.

In terms of inclusive marketing practices, the retail giant stated brand partners need to create guidelines by the end of next year for marketing, casting and photography practices to make sure there is a diverse representation of people including race, age, gender identity and more.

Lastly, REI said it expects the brands it works with to create strategies that will “prevent plagiarism, theft and inappropriate use of designs, patterns and names that are culturally meaningful to and originated from Native, Indigenous or other communities underrepresented in the outdoor industry.”

“Inclusivity in the outdoors is more than just a shift in rhetoric,” Latino Outdoors outings leader for the Los Angeles chapter Victoria Rodriguez said of REI’s efforts in a statement. The retailer stated Rodriguez was one of the instrumental figures who helped shape its new standards.

Rodriguez continued, “Our outdoor journey begins with seeing people like ourselves in natural spaces, and we choose brands that have inclusive storytelling, from messaging to photography, and everything in-between. By doing so, we encourage more companies to meet these standards.”

The entire REI Product Impact Standards 2.0 can be viewed here.

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