The fashion and footwear industry can damage the environment when producers of these goods are indifferent to their impact. For example, did you know that the apparel industry consumes more energy than the aviation and shipping industry combined [i], accounting for 10 per cent of the global carbon emissions [ii]? Nevertheless, some manufacturers such as E9 and Evolv have attempted to reduce their environmental impact as they gain a sense of responsibility to contribute to nature’s protection. This article will look at how these brands have weaved eco-conscious practices into their production cycle, packaging, and public outreach.
Manufacturers transform raw materials to end products, transporting them from Production Point A to Production Point B and so on and so forth. A lot goes on in producing the gears you use and wear in the climbing gym – be it your climbing shoes, sports bras, tights, pants, etc. Since the production cycle is a bulk part of any operation when making your climbing gears, brands such as E9 and Evolv have sensibly sourced their raw materials.
For example, E9 uses bio-based and durable raw materials in their apparel, such as modal and linen fibres and organic cotton [iii]. The modal fabric comes from fibres derived from wood pulp, making the apparel durable, so you don’t have to keep buying new ones. Another example of a long-lasting fibre that E9 uses is linen. Its cultivation requires less water, and rainwater is the primary source of irrigation. Lastly, organically grown cotton limits the use of pesticides to protect the quality of the soil it’s on. Organically grown cotton also uses less water and supports biodiversity.
Evolv has one of the most extensive selections of vegan climbing shoes of any climbing shoe manufacturer. Their notable vegan models are Phantom, Zenist, Defy, and Elektra.
Plenty of climbing shoes come with animal-based materials, such as leather. However, the carbon footprint of cattle rearing and chemicals in the tanning process [iv] has detrimental effects on the environment. For that reason, non-leather climbing shoes are an excellent option for reducing the environmental impact of our climbing gears.
Another aspect of the production cycle is transporting the raw materials to the manufacturing site. The further away the raw materials are from the production site, the more resources are necessary for the transportation. E9 is known for its “KM ZERO” production [v]. The majority of E9’s production cycle takes place in a few kilometres in the company’s district in Italy, reducing the pollution derived from the freight of the goods.
Other than incorporating sustainable practices in the production cycle, eco-conscious manufacturers have opted to package their goods better so that they don’t produce unnecessary waste. For instance, with the cooperation of its customers, E9 has reached their target of being 95% polybag-free in 2021. It is aiming to achieve 100% and soon [vi]. Aligning our buying habits towards brands that eliminate single-use plastic is one of the practical ways we, as climbers, can practice environmental conservation.
It is also vital that companies do their part to raise public awareness and support environmentally-friendly projects. Yes, as individuals, we can do our part. However, we know that businesses can effect change on an enormous scale should they choose to. Their advocacy can influence not only the general masses but also create a ripple effect on other players in the industry. As such, E9 joined the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) [vii], an organisation founded in 2006 with the idea of helping to preserve wild places and ecosystems for future generations. Together with the other 150 companies that joined the association, they support conservation projects worldwide.
Another way climbing gear companies raise public awareness of environmental advocacy is through climbers themselves. Evolv Athletes like Ashima Shiraishi have substantial social media followings. They have used their platforms to talk about topics on climate change, influencing the climbing community towards more eco-conscious habits. Similarly, E9 ambassadors, primarily outdoor enthusiasts, have used their reach to spread the message of the importance of protecting our environment.
Of course, ensuring that we are not excessively consuming climbing products is one way of doing our part to reduce our impact on the environment. So buying long-lasting apparel that can withstand the wear and tear of the sport ensures that we don’t need to keep replacing them. Upcycling the fabric materials into other functional items is also a way to give our old items a new lease of life. As for climbing shoes, resoling them instead of buying a new pair is an option we can consider in stretching their lifespan.
But, if you really have to buy, purchase your climbing gears from companies that have well-founded environmental conservation advocacy and have incorporated sustainable practices in their production cycle and packaging. By aligning your spending habits to such companies, you signal that you count on them and other enterprises to do their part for the environment. So as individual consumers, we do our part to reduce our impact and expect the same from climbing gears manufacturers since they can affect change on a bigger scale. Together, we can establish a more environmentally-conscious climbing community!