Carrying on where we left off yesterday – Yesterday’s post

recycle outdoor gear

Sarah Howcroft sees her new website project as a start. “I do believe this is the only way we will see sustained progress.”

The OIA boss said: “The trick then, in walking the ‘Fine Patagonian Line’, is to use the position of responsibility we have as market leaders, to work with our customers and partners in ensuring best practice, and to build sustainable outdoor gear that lasts.

“It is also to promote the use of the UK’s wonderful outdoors rather than stepping on a plane every time you want to go climbing; to develop fabrics and trends such as recycled polyester fleece or organic cotton that then flow into more mainstream fashion clothing.

“We accept that we live in a consumer-driven world. Perhaps it is possible to grow industries more sustainably, rather than just to walk away from the issues or to take the ‘ostrich in the sand’ approach to the environmental challenges of today.”

Sarah Howcroft sees ROG as part of this move towards the industry taking on some of the criticism that it could do more to help conserve the environment. “Certain companies within the industry try very hard. It worries me that an industry can only be judged by its weakest member with regard to the drive for more sustainable business practices.”

“ROG is available for every company working in the outdoor industry to make their own customers aware of the service and encourage them to use it.

“In that one act they will have done a great deal to address some of the negative accusations levelled at the outdoors industry. ROG empowers the customer to make their own decision as to what happens to their outdoor gear when they no longer have any need for it.”

Examples of gear that can be listed on the site are: climbing and walking boots, skis, tents, and waterproofs all types, canoes, bikes, and rucksacks. Anything with an engine is banned as are weapons of any description, hunting and fishing gear, barbecues and any real estate.

Recycle Outdoor Gear: 'It’s not all about money'
Recycle Outdoor Gear: ‘It’s not all about money’

Ms Howcroft says the site was not set up to make her profits. “It’s not all about money. In ROG’s case it is about fulfilling its function. It’s not about making money.

“ROG represents the first in a number of initiatives that I am planning to make available to help address the drive towards a more sustainable industry.”

Her old company Rohan is supporting the move, along with other OIA members. She said: “I am Rohan’s number-one fan and the surviving member of the original two Rohanists.

“Early Rohan represented the two founders’ principals; mine haven’t changed.

“Chief executive Colin Fisher and brand director Tim Jasper have been very supportive of all my ideas with regard to our industry. Rohantime, home of the Rohan community and the Rohan Community Forum represent two of these.

“ROG is different in so much as it is a Sarah Howcroft service but never the less their joint encouragement is fundamental to me and deeply appreciated.”

She says the service on ROG is free and there are no plans to charge.

She hopes in the next year to see a growth in the number of ads, accompanied by lots of articles on the topic of reuse and recycling within the whole of the great outdoors community. She wants the site to be a place to learn and interact on the topic of recycled outdoor gear.

Andrew Denton again refers to the Patagonia model, which has led the way in encouraging outdoor enthusiasts not simply to pursue having the most up-to-date gear.

He said: “With ROG we are trying once again to walk that fine line – the ‘greenest’ jacket you have is the one you already own; if it does the job then you have no need of a new one.

“That purest approach however does no good to the industry selling you kit. It stifles development and innovation, denies donations to mountain rescue and environmental causes, and means the outdoor adventurer who wants the best, latest outdoor kit for their own trips is compromised.

“Here now at ROG you have an option, swap, donate, move around outdoor kit – enable more people to get outside, less well off adventurers, young people, groups and schools. That new jacket you really want you can buy still, but now you have the option to pass on your old faithful rather than leave it rotting under the stairs.

“Yes it’s a fine line. There are no clear-cut decisions in an industry that supports a strong sustainable ethic, but with ROG perhaps we are moving one step nearer a compatible, commercial option that is both environmentally sustainable, yet commercially aware.”

For Sarah Howcroft, it is important to get people using the site. “To date we have a lot of lookers and an equal number of people registering,” she said. “The value of any service is only as good as the amount it is used.”

She is evangelical about the project. “All outdoor companies, manufacturers, retailers, outdoor centres, climbing walls, media any organisation can you please help spread the ROG word.”

For details and to sell or buy, see the Recycle Outdoor Gear website.

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