You may have come across a book called “Saving the planet without the bullsh*t”. Within its pages the author suggests that personal actions to combat the climate crisis are futile. He advocates that the only answer is to direct all activity at curbing the activities of the fossil fuel industry.

Whilst clearly the fossil fuel industry is a gigantic piece of the puzzle, we’re here to tell you from our experience that community action can and does play a huge part in creating a shift towards the circular economy and incrementally reducing our reliance on oil and coal.

The vast majority of outdoor clothing is synthetic and made from plastic (which is made from oil). Most is also manufactured in coal-powered factories in Asia and transported to the west using yet more fuel. This means that any way in which we, as individuals, can reduce the amount of new outdoor gear we purchase, the less we rely on the fossil fuel industry.

Re-Action is active in creating awareness and demand for the circular economy. This includes repair services, resale of second hand items, rental options and donation with the goal of limiting the need to produce yet more new items. Read on to find out how…

1. Build it and they will come

This quote, from the film Field of Dreams, rings true. Members of the Re-Action collective include full-time seamsters and seamstresses who spend their days repairing outdoor clothing or repurposing items, retailers who rescue surplus kit, and tech-savvy folk who create rental platforms and peer-to-peer rental and sale platforms. 

They have built their services to prevent quality materials from going to landfill, to reduce carbon emissions, and to keep our kit in circulation for longer.

And guess what? People within their communities (and beyond in the case of the online platforms) are getting onboard and are buying pre-loved articles, renting gear, donating their surplus and repairing their kit.

2. Make it as easy (or easier) than buying new

This is a key area that our collective has understood and embraced. Here are a few examples of how they’re doing it:

One Tree at a Time – An amazing shopping experience

Walking into the One Tree at a Time shop in the French Alps, is an experience far from entering a typical UK charity shop. The shop smells fresh and has clean outdoor clothing organised by type, colour and size, labelled and displayed in an attractive and easy to browse way. No overstuffed rails or jumble-sale-like bins to rummage through. This makes it really easy to find what you are looking for. The team in the shop are skiers and snowboarders themselves and are therefore very knowledgeable and will always go out of their way to help you find what you need.

One Tree at a Time shop display
One Tree at a Time shop display

Sheffield Clothing Repair – collaboration with Outside for same day repairs

Recognising demand amongst outdoor enthusiasts for accessible repair services, James, owner of Outside a family-run outdoor shop in the Peak District in the UK, regularly invites Becky from Sheffield Clothing Repair to hold repair days in the shop. Customers can get their kit repaired on the same day. This is a valuable service if you wear your outdoor gear regularly which is hard to find elsewhere.

3. Provide value for money

Repaired Ortovox ski pants
This Ortovox ski pants repair cost just 30 euros!

Manon from One Tree at a Time was able to provide a repair service to a ski instructor who had put a hole in his Ortovox ski pants with his ski pole. The ski pants in question retail for $450 new.

Manon was able to reinforce and repair them on the same day for just 30€. This saved the ski instructor from cold legs and a hole in his wallet.

In fact, there is not one member of the collective who is not providing value for money. At Tentshare you can rent your tent out, earning money from an item that spends the majority of its life in your garage. With Ecoski and Cirkel Supply Co you can hire your ski outfit for your one week a year on the snow. On and Preloved Sports you can pick up second hand sports clothing from as little as £1 per item!

4. Make unique items

In a world of mass production, our members are helping outdoor-lovers find their unique style thanks to patching and repurposing.

Wash bag made from repurposed event banners
Wash bag made from festival banners

Kirsty at Little Recreations makes colourful products from festival waste.

Her latest creations are these amazing wash bags made from advertising banners.

Patched mid-layer hoodie to create a one-off item.
Midlayer with logo patched over

Wastebusters in New Zealand are making unique jackets, mid-layers and gilets for skiers and snowboarders. They are doing this by creatively patching over the logos of the company that donated them to create one off originals.

Read more about ‘project patch’ here.

A move towards circularity

Through these four techniques, the Re-Action collective is generating demand for a move away from the linear model of buy, use, dispose, to a more circular way of accessing and using outdoor gear. 

By demonstrating demand for the circular economy we are beginning to create the systems change we need. As citizens, we are making a difference, by voting with our wallet and prioritising circular solutions above linear ones. For every item repaired, bought second hand, or rented, it’s one less bought new, one less amount of fossil fuel resources transported around the world and one more happy customer. Yes, it’s incremental, but a lot of incremental changes add up.

As citizens, we have the agency to encourage brands to embrace circular economy thinking when it comes to longevity, repairability and the materials they use to make outdoor gear so they will come to rely less on the fossil fuel industry.

Whatever you do, don’t believe that you can’t contribute to combatting the climate crisis. Collectively our actions are driving the change we want to see.

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