March 5, 2009
Can You Give Back By Buying Gear?
This week I have had a lot on my mind after hearing more bad news about the economy and how this is impacting non-profit organizations. If you’re a regular reader or follow me on Twitter you know I am involved with the planning of The Women’s Wilderness Institute’s Gear and Cheer fundraising event. We have been very fortunate to have great support for the event as well as amazing organization like Kelty and Sierra Designs as 2009 sponsors for the educational programs. Also a new development from 2009 sponsor Mountain Hardware the Send a Kid to Camp program that is supporting TWWI and other organizations.
Between working to set-up the auction and receiving my REI dividend this week I have been thinking a lot about buying gear. As you’ll note from my previous blog, Gear on the Brain, my decision making was based on how much I can get with my coupon and dividend but then I took a step back. I realized I shop at REI because I like supporting their amazing Stewardship Program. So what if I based my brand decisions on something greater? In a time when corporations are cutting their charity budgets how can I show them my support? Easy, show it with my dollars. Buy from organizations that give back.
I took a bit of time to research the brands I already use and figure out what they’re doing to make an impact. After visiting companies’ websites and learning more I have discovered they break down into three major areas: Non-Profit Partnerships, Environmental Impact, and Event Sponsors.
The Non-Profit Partners
Since I am considering purchasing quickdraws by Black Diamond, let’s start with them. This organization supports a lot of regional and national organizations. As with most of these corporations their entire list of philanthropic contributions is too large to list but to name a few Black Diamond is supporting the Access Fund, American Alpine Club, and HERA’s Climb for Life.
The North Face also has an impressive list of partners. One organizations of note is GlobalGiving.com which focuses on supporting “high quality grassroots social and economic development projects around the world” by matching donors with community based projects.
While some may not consider Clif Bars and Luna Bars gear we can all agree we need nourishment when were on the go. These companies focus on sustainability with their own product development as well as partner with great organizations like International Mountain Bike Association and American Whitewater but they also have a unique way of connecting to the community. Clif Bar aims to get more people biking than commuting by car particularly when traveling within a 2 mile radius. Check out the 2 Mile Challenge!
I knew that Patagonia did a lot on the local level to help the community but their global involvement is impressive on a much different level. Not only is the Patagonia distribution center in Reno, NV LEED Certified but they’re developing a rainforest in Chile, distributing Environmental Grants, and have the Common Threads Garment Recycling Program.
Another heavy hitter in global environmental impact is Mammut. Climbers in particular will be interested in the Kirgistan Mountain Project where Mammut has set-up fixed ropes for climbing, helped refurbish base camp, and is developing a mountain guide training program. In addition Mammut has climate-neutral ropes but offsetting their production expenditures by partnering with MyClimate.org.
Event and Athlete Sponsors
Many brands including some of those listed above sponsor elite athletes, like 5Ten, helping to support some of the top names in climbing. Some organizations are known more for their sponsorship of events. Tubbs Snowshoes for example sponsors the Romp to Stomp Out Breast Cancer and Winter Trail Days. Marmot has also been linked to some great events like “Going to the Dogs” in Estes Park which supports local No Kill animal shelters.
So there you have it. While this is in no way a comprehensive list I hope it gives you a starting point when looking at how your gear dollars can go further. If you have information on other brands and their impact please email me at email@example.com or leave a comment.