Ten ways to shop more Sustainably


There’s no way of avoiding the fact that our shopping habits have an impact on the environment, and this is especially evident in the fashion and clothing industry. Here at Nordic Outdoor the sustainability question is always at the forefront of discussion. We understand that as part of the retail industry we need to work harder to reduce our environmental and social impact, and with that in mind we are continually working towards creating a more sustainable business.

The main problem with sustainable shopping is that it requires the customer to do a wealth of research before every purchase to ensure they are making the purchase with the least environmental impact. We hope that Nordic Outdoor can act as a benchmark of quality for sustainable retail and that our customers can be assured that we have investigated all the sustainability aspects of the products we sell, taking the weight off their shoulders.

While we hope customers will recognise that Nordic Outdoor stand behind the sustainability of our stock, we understand that everyone is looking to improve their own shopping habits. For this reason, we’ve looked at ten ways you can shop more sustainably below, and we’d love to hear your suggestions! Remember that nobody is perfect when it comes to sustainability and the main thing is to try and make the changes you can that fit with the way you live.

Nordic Outdoor Sustainability

Buy Less, Buy Better

This may seem like a strange statement from a company who survive on selling products, but we believe everyone should buy less. Constant Mid-Season sales and promotional discounts encourage us to spend money on clothing we don’t necessarily need. Alongside this the rise of fast fashion means you can kit out your summer wardrobe for £100 and then replace it next time the sun makes an appearance.

By spending a little more on products which are designed to last you will be reducing the environmental impact you have immediately. If you compare a jacket which costs £300 but will last for 10 years to a £50 model which will last six months, then both the environmental impact and the cost per wear cost are as different as night and day.


Think about how you shop

For years the debate has been raging on regarding which is more sustainable; shopping online or shopping in-store. While there are arguments on both sides related to which is more environmentally friendly the main thing to recognise is that it depends on your own circumstance.

If you live in a small town 40 miles away from your nearest Nordic Outdoor store, then to drive into the city to purchase one item of clothing isn’t the most sustainable choice you can make. On the other hand, if you are a ten-minute bus ride from your local store then to order online and have someone deliver this to your house becomes the unsustainable option.

When you begin considering these questions you can begin to think of how likely you are to return something if you buy online, whether you can combine your trip to get all your shopping in one go and generally be a more sustainable shopper.

Repair your current clothes

Just because your trousers have developed a hole in the knee doesn’t mean that they have reached the end of their life and you need to rush to the shops to buy a new pair. The best way of extending your wardrobes lifecycle and reduce your spend on clothing is to repair what you already have. Many of our suppliers including Fjallraven and Hilleberg can provide patches of their unique fabrics which you can use to repair any small problems. Alternatively, a tailor can undertake more major alterations and repairs to ensure you can continue to enjoy your favourite styles for years to come.   


Shop with brands who are committed to sustainability

Nordic Outdoor will only work with suppliers who have a clear focus on sustainability. Almost all the brands we work with have a sustainability statement in place. Brands such as Fjallraven have their Arctic Fox initiative designed to give back to nature while Houdini were the first clothing company to create an entire menu from their own composted clothing. 

 Fjallraven rctic Fox Initiative

Pay attention to materials

The materials that are being used in your clothing have a major impact on how sustainable the product is. Materials such as polyester and nylon are unsustainable as they use masses of resources to create and even after production polyester sheds microfibres into the water system and will never decompose. Even cotton which is an industry standard has its problems due to irrigation and fertilisation. For this reason, many brands have begun the switch towards organic cotton production.

Here at Nordic Outdoor we are huge fans of natural merino wool and you will see this across our selection of clothing from brands including Dale, Aclima, Houdini and Bergans. Using a quality fabric that has full traceability (even back to the farm it comes from!) is one of the most sustainable decisions you can make.

It is important to note however that it is not only the material production which has an impact on an items sustainability but also the dyeing process and the waterproof coating. Brands like Fjallraven offer customers the ability to add further water resistance using their G-1000 wax while many of our brands including Didriksons and Bergans use Spindye colouring which keeps chemicals and water wastage to an absolute minimum throughout the production process.

Keep an eye out for certifications

With the focus on sustainability there are now a wealth of accreditations and certifications for eco-friendly and sustainably products. One of the most respected accreditations is the Bluesign system, which confirms that the garment you are looking to buy is produced with the highest degree of safety for the consumer, a responsible use of resources and is manufactured with the lowest possible impact on people and the environment.  Another accreditation you should always keep an eye out for is the Fair Trade logo which promotes better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability and fair terms of trade for farmers in the developing world.

We hope that our customers recognise that anything we stock has been given the Nordic Outdoor seal of approval and we stand behind the sustainability of all the products in our stores.


Make your wardrobe multi-functional

Here at Nordic Outdoor our three key tenets are style, function and sustainability and these can all sit hand in hand together. Unlike many outdoor stores whose products are designed solely for summiting a Munro or moving to the forest we offer clothing which will perform in the outdoors environment while also not looking out of place in Central London. As our MD Caspar Odqvist likes to say, we don’t sell outdoor clothing that makes it look like you ‘fell off the side of a mountain’ but instead offer multi-functional items that can be used in everyday life.

Again, by reducing the requirement of having an outdoors jacket alongside an everyday jacket you are consuming less and reducing your environmental impact. If you are looking for a new purchase for a specific use then why not see if you can find something that you can use in everyday life as well to reduce your consumption.


The Packaging problem

As soon as you begin to go down the rabbit hole of what is the most sustainable packaging when shopping you will never come out. While paper bags are often touted as being better than plastic bags the energy consumption to produce paper bags is much higher than plastic and they have a much shorter lifespan which in turn makes them a less sustainable option. A paper bag would need to be reused 4 times to make it eco-friendlier than a traditional carrier bag.  This is also true for reusable cotton totes which would need to be used 173 times to have a lower carbon footprint than a traditional plastic bag.

Nordic Outdoor are trying a new solution for 2019 where our carrier bags will be produced using a Potato Starch plastic which is 100% compostable. Unlike traditional bags these can be put in your home compost bin, garden waste bin or food waste bin and they will decompose to at least 90% C02 with the remaining share being converted into water and biomass.

No matter how you are shopping if you have bags already in your house then use these! Even the most sustainable packaging selection is less environmentally friendly than reusing something you already have.

Recycling at Nordic Outdoor

Look at where your garments are manufactured

Sustainability is not just the carbon footprint associated with your clothing but extends to the societal impact that these purchases have. Buying clothes that are cheaply made by workers who are paid pennies an hour is neither a sustainable or ethical purchase.  are also less likely to stand the test of time. We look to ensure that none of our stock is produced in sweatshop conditions and all employees are paid a fair wage for their labour.

Some of our favourite brands that we stock look after the entire production process. Chief among these are Aclima, who manufacture their clothing in their own Estonian factory. Other prime examples include Tentipi who still manufacture from their Swedish based production plant and Gransfors Bruk who have every axe head forged with the initials of the blacksmith responsible. 

aclima sustainable sheep

Never stop asking why

As we always say nobody is perfect and becoming more sustainable is a learning process. Here at Nordic Outdoor we know there is a lot more to be done before we are an entirely sustainable company and we are constantly looking at ways in which we can improve. If you take this ethos into your shopping habits, then slowly you will begin to see positive changes in your mindset and the way you shop.

Everyday in the Nordic Outdoor office we are debating the pros and cons of doing things a certain way and while this is not always the best use of company time it certainly keeps sustainability at the front and centre of everyone’s mind!

 If you can think of any ways in which we can be more sustainable, please contact us at sustainability@nordicoutdoor.co.uk or phone our head office at 0131 552 3000.