Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
In early 2008, Backpacker did a full carbon footprint analysis of our business. We reduced everything we could, and offset the rest. We were pretty psyched about what we accomplished. We offered to share what we learned in the process with any outdoor industry company or any magazine that wanted to follow suit. We ended up saving money in the process–enough to pay for the analysis and to pay for our offsets. It was a win-win situation and we couldn’t understand why other companies weren’t jumping on board. We demonstrated that you can do good for the environment while being fiscally responsible.
So, we were thrilled to learn that GoLite is doing the same. Yesterday, GoLite announced that in addition to targeted greenhouse gas reduction efforts, it’s offsetting what it can’t eliminate through reputable renewable energy credits (RECs) and CO2 offsets purchased through NativeEnergy.
In 2007 and 2008, GoLite offset 100% of its estimated greenhouse gas emissions from corporate travel, office energy use at headquarters and satellite operations, shipping of all products both from suppliers as well as to retailers and customers, and all consumables (e.g. shipping materials, packaging, hang tags, catalogs, mailers, etc). Now, it’s committing to achieve the same level of “carbon neutrality” for its 2009 operations. For 2010 forward, GoLite will offset all remaining climate impacts to achieve 100% “carbon neutrality” for all of its operations, including materials and product manufacturing.
The company is actively reducing wherever it can, from less employee travel, reduced air-shipping of products from factories, more efficient corporate energy use, encouraging alternative transportation, increasing recycled and renewable inputs in its products, and more. It aims to reduce its actual climate impact by 30% by 2010 off its 2008 baseline.
“The best carbon offset companies, like NativeEnergy, are investing in new renewable energy projects,” said GoLite’s co-founder and Chief Environmental Officer Kim Coupounas. “We’re focused on doing our part to reduce our actual carbon emissions but we’re also investing in changing the energy infrastructure through offsets so that we can help add more renewable energy to the grid. As we contemplate shrinking glaciers, pine beetles and other climate-related changes that are directly impacting our industry, we want to be a part of the solution, not just part of the problem.”
For the past year, GoLite has worked with Five Winds International to complete a comprehensive “bottom up” environmental footprint analysis in order to fully understand the company’s carbon impact. This analysis included assessing the major environmental impacts of all of GoLite’s operations from supply chain through distribution.
NativeEnergy is consistently ranked at the top of third party research reports rating the quality and credibility of voluntary carbon offset companies. It invests in building Native American, farmer, and community based renewable energy projects that create social, economic, and environmental benefits for local communities.
GoLite is also seeking to support renewable energy projects that more closely match their actual geographical impacts, including a wind farm project in Northern China, close to where many of GoLite’s factories are based.
GoLite’s Green Corporate Practices
GoLite has recently made big strides on its path toward sustainability. Its headquarters uses energy efficient lighting, “zero waste” recycling practices, and eco-friendly office products. All GoLite packaging and printing is produced according to the OIA Sustainable Packaging Guidelines. GoLite donations are targeted at getting more people outdoors and at environmental and conservation efforts, and 1% of all of GoLite’s industry pro sales are donated to the Conservation Alliance. GoLite provides its staff an extra week of paid vacation for environmental volunteerism or field testing and actively encourages alternative forms of transportation. GoLite shares responsibility with its factories for the social and ethical conditions involved in sourcing the products that are manufactured in their name and works in partnership with their suppliers towards the ends of social and environmental responsibility. All of its factories are third-party audited for compliance with the Timberland fair labor Code of Conduct. GoLite management believes so strongly in the importance of its sustainability efforts that it is spending more than 1% of annual revenues on its sustainability efforts. GoLite’s first comprehensive CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) report is expected to be completed in early 2009. When it is, GoLite has agreed to let us walk you through the process in the pages of the magazine.
The long term objective: GoLite wants to eliminate its environmental footprint and be a 100% “carbon neutral,” zero waste company that uses a majority of environmentally preferred materials and zero restricted substances by 2010. It’s aggressively working to take full life-cycle responsibility for its products through use of sustainable inputs, ecologically intelligent design, and innovative recycling/end-of-life processes.
“We believe that achieving a net zero footprint is possible,” said Coupounas. ”And we’ve set that as our long-term goal. We know we’re not going to get there overnight, so we’ve prepared ourselves for the long journey ahead. We are far from having all the answers, but we’re making progress – day by day, decision by decision.”
This blogger says nice work, Go Lite. Keep us posted, and thanks for being an inspiration to the rest of the gear makers out there.
Know of a company that makes outdoor products that’s doing innovative work on the green front? Please share your stories below!