While we strive to continually create enduring, iconic, differentiated, and innovative products that enable all of us to enjoy the outdoors longer, we are also committed to our communities and the environments. This means we continue to explore ways to design products more efficiently so that they require less raw materials and fewer components, use less water and energy to manufacture and assemble, are safer for the environment, produce minimal waste, and come from ethical, humane sources.
Guided by the Higg Index—a sustainability standard adopted by the outdoor industry—we take a holistic, lifecycle approach to measuring and managing product-based sustainability performance. This allows us to look at the impacts of our material choices differently, as well as challenges us to look beyond the impacts of our materials.
Understanding where our materials come from and the manner in which they are made is a foundational component to responsible material use and ultimately managing the impacts associated with material choices. Some highlights include:
We launched a Material Traceability program that will enable us to track chain of custody from raw material origins to finished product. This program will help us to ensure that the material does indeed come from its reported source, and that humane practices are used in every step of the supply chain that involves animal-based byproducts.
Beginning with Columbia’s Fall 2016 global product line, Columbia is using 100% Responsible Down Standard certified natural down based on Textile Exchange’s Responsible Down Standard. Committing to responsibly sourced down ensures the down we use in our products is obtained from animals that have not been subjected to unnecessary harm.
The minerals Tin, Tantalum, Tungsten and Gold and their derivatives (“3TG minerals”) are present in many consumer products and may be present in our products in, among other things, zippers, hooks, rivets, solder on metal parts, electronic components and outdoor equipment. We strive to ensure that 3TG minerals used in our products are obtained from suppliers that avoid sourcing such minerals from ore mined under conditions of armed conflict and human rights abuses, particularly in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (“Conflict Minerals”).
We sourced approximately 95% of leather used in our products from tanneries that are members of the Leather Working Group—a multi-stakeholder group that develops and maintains a protocol to assess the compliance and environmental performance of tanners. The Leather Working Group also promotes sustainable and appropriate environmental business practices within the leather industry.
It’s important that we make products that are safe for people and the environment. We take a tiered approach to chemical management at Columbia, starting with our Restricted Substance List (RSL) program. Our RSL policy outlines global chemical standards based on regulations, voluntary requirements and industry best practices. This program includes testing and verification procedures to ensure that our products meet these standards.
In addition to putting in place the fundamentals of responsible material sourcing, we also focused our efforts on better understanding the impacts of our products’ use and care phase, as well as end of life. This focus led to the launch of our innovative ReThreads program, in partnership with I:CO, which encourages consumers to bring their worn-out products to our participating retail stores to be collected, sorted and processed for re-wear, reuse or recycling. In 2015, our ReThreads program diverted over 1,000lbs of clothing from landfills. To help get the most out of your Columbia products and extend their useful life, check out our care instructions on the website.