Traditionally the idea of sustainability has been solely focused on using recycled materials, reducing water usage, or creating products which could be recycled at the end of life. As people develop a deeper understanding of the true value and meaning of sustainability however, we are seeing some of the most forward-thinking brands truly redefine what being environmentally friendly entails.

As a Scandinavian led company we have always put sustainability at the forefront of our decision making process and look to ensure that every brand we work with is not only creating great kit for the outdoor, but is doing so without damaging the environment. From brands creating fine dining menus using vegetables grown from the soil of their decomposted baselayers to those working with the worlds largest privately funded research vessels to find whether there are opportunities to use seaweed as a replacement for man-made fibres.

When it comes to sustainability any change no matter the size that we can make to become more environmentally conscious is a step in the right direction and we applaud all the brands we work with who are constantly innovating, restructuring, and re-educating in a bid to create a more sustainable future. Today we focus on five outdoor brands and the projects they are undertaking which can help truly redefine how we look at sustainability in outdoor clothing and the business of ‘fashion’ in general.

Tretorn – The Sea Level Boot

One of the problems many of us have when thinking about the effects of climate change is that the impact of rising sea levels and global temperature can be too large to fully grasp. It is this exact premise which was the foundations of “Don’t Look Up” which proved a runaway success for Netflix using a world destroying meteor as a less than subtle climate change metaphor.

Here in Scotland we can already feel that seasons are becoming slightly more blurred and Summer may feel unusually warm however the impact to our daily life is minimal. Most of us do not live in Brazil where rainforests are disappearing at a record speed or Colorado which has faced the largest wildfires in their history.

The Sea Level Boot from Tretorn has been designed to address this exact problem.

According to IPCC’s calculations the sea levels are expected to rise by 10.3 inches (26cm) by the year 2050 unless we take the necessary actions now to combat global warming. This figure on its own doesn’t mean much or resonate with many in their imagination so Tretorn have put this information front and centre with the boots design. At the back of the Sea Level Boot sits a measuring stick showcasing the level that the oceans are expected to rise by every decade until 2050.

If changes aren’t made now these boots won’t keep you dry by 2060.

A striking approach to sustainability, this project from Tretorn doesn’t shy away from the uncomfortable truth of what climate change looks like. The boots which were developed in collaboration with the Sea Life Trust are constructed from entirely sustainable and recycled materials.

The Tretorn Sea-Leave Re-Boot will be available at Nordic Outdoor this March. Shop the full Tretorn collection online here

Aclima – REV for the Ocean

Another brand who are using the ocean as their inspiration for a more sustainable approach to production are our good friends at Aclima. The Merino specialists have always championed the idea that natural materials can perform to the same level (if not better) in most cases than their manmade equivalents. In recent years the brand have began making clothes from scrap fabric in their factory, working with regenerative wool farmers and continued to stress the importance of traceability in the production process.

The brands new project however is the most exciting to date and could completely change the way we manufacture outdoor clothing.

REV Ocean has been described as “the world’s largest superyacht” or “the world’s most advanced research and expedition vessel” and has been more than five years in the making. According to the Robb Report REV Ocean will have a full range of science equipment as well as the world’s deepest diving submersible, three wet labs, two dry labs and a media lab. With a focus on researching three issues: overfishing, climate change and plastic pollution – REV Ocean has ambitions to find practical answers for the oceans problems.

As masters in creating clothing for difficult conditions where performance is essential Aclima were the obvious partner for REV Ocean when looking for a clothing partner to collaborate with. The Norwegian based bran will not only provide Merino Wool garments for the crew of the REV Ocean but will also work with the vessel to look at how marine plastic can be reused in new and innovative ways while also exploring opportunities which may lie in raw materials such as Seaweed and Fish Skin.

This is one of the most exciting collaborative partnerships we’ve seen when talking about sustainability and the research undertaken by ROV Ocean could truly have the capability to change the way we look at the oceans and the way we use marine plastics and marine materials to create more sustainable and responsible clothing. The real world application of this partnership is explained by REV Ocean’s CEO Nina Jensen who stated

“The collaboration with Aclima is a good example of putting REV Ocean’s mission into practice. Going ‘from curiosity to understanding to solutions’ is our core goal and we are excited to see real sustainable products being made available that our team can start using, whilst developing innovative solutions at the same time, and to encourage other companies to do the same.”

You can read more about REV Ocean on their official website and read the press release regarding the Aclima collaboration here. The Vessel is expected to be operational by 2026.

Houdini – Open Sourcing the Outdoor Clothing Industry

There are few brands out there that approach sustainability with the same level of innovation and vigour as Houdini do. For FW21 the brands collection was 100% constructed using recycled, recyclable, renewable, biodegradable or bluesign certified fabrics and this is just the latest achievement in a long list of sustainability credentials the brand can boast of.

Houdini have always looked at sustainability in a unique way, from creating the worlds first clothing compost to creating a fine dining menu from the vegetables grown from this compost it is clear the brand want people to sit up and take notice of the problems facing the outdoor clothing industry when it comes to being more circular and environmentally conscious.

One of their most bold approaches however was to ‘open source’ their innovations - to create a product designed to fight plastic waste, and then give the recipe away. Open Sourcing is a concept widely used in software development and means the source code of software is made freely available and can be redistributed and modified by others. This level of collaboration and transparency may be commonplace in tech however when it comes to the textile industry it is nearly unheard of.

When we talk about Houdini ‘giving away the recipe’ we truly mean it. These are the foundations of one of their most popular products and you can see exactly how it is built and the materials used. A full list of every zip pull, fabric, thread and hang tag can be found on Houdini’s website allowing you to create your very own Mono Air Houdi should you be inclined.

The Mono Air Houdi was a collaborative project between Houdini and Polartec. It is constructed from an anti-shedding fabric from Polartec which reduces microfiber shedding, it is recycled and recyclable and does this without compromising on functionality. Houdini make no secret of the importance of this innovation saying that “a top tied technical fleece fabric that is both circular and anti-shedding is nothing short of groundbreaking”.

Houdini aren’t open sourcing the ‘recipe’ to the Mono Air Houdi as a marketing ploy or a scheme to get column inches – the brand actively want other brands to download the material, learn from it and use it to build even better solutions. Houdini explain this approach saying;

“As we are constantly striving to break new ground within sustainability, we would love to see  new collaborations and solutions as a result of this project. We firmly believe in collaboration and that our industry has to push sustainable development even harder to protect our environment, and we’re hoping that this will spark that passion within other companies too.

You can read more about Project Mono Air on the Houdini Website and if you want to create your own product using Polartec Air you can reach out to them here.

Light My Fire – Redefining Plastic

In the past decade plastic has had something of a bad rap and has become seen as the antithesis for sustainable living, people look at the world and automatically assume plastic products are inherently unsustainable.

Light My Fire have always looked to challenge this belief and educate consumers on plastics.

While it is true that plastic lasts a long long time before deteriorating it is exactly this reason that means if used correctly it can be a sustainable choice. There is no question that single use plastic is a real problem for our environment and LMF have long aimed to create products (like their famous Spork or pack-up-cup ) which will last the test of time and eliminate any need for single use. It is not only plastic waste that these products are designed to eliminate the need for, but all needless disposables – to gain a scale of the problem it’s worth knowing that in the UK 4.861 paper cups are used every minute, that equates to 7 million a day or just over 2.5 billion a year!

In a bid to create plastic products which are even more sustainable than their traditional BPA free plastic Light My Fire made the move to start using Biobased plastics back in 2019. This more sustainable approach has helped the brand in reaching their sustainability objectives without compromising on the products functionality and durability.

Biobased plastic is different than biodegradable. Biobased plastics are derived from renewable crops including corn, sugar cane and tree cellulose, and provide a way to effectively bypass the oil industry while providing a product with the same properties of regular plastic.

By taking a material which is often demonised and looking at a new sustainable way to approach plastic Light My Fire aim to begin an open, guilt-free and positive conversation to reduce confusion, encourage discussion and improve consumer knowledge. Much like the team at Houdini transparency is at the forefront of what Light My Fire do and you can find a full list of their suppliers, producers and partners on the LMF website.

Helly Hansen – The Climate Sentinels

While Helly Hansen began life as a sailing brand they have grown to become something much bigger in their 140 year history. Today the brand work in sailing, ski, workwear and even have a range developed solely for the people who live and work in extreme cold-weather climates.

It is this Arctic Patrol collection from Helly Hansen that made them the perfect partners for a 450km ski expedition undertaken by 6 female scientists to try and understand what makes the arctic warm so quickly.

In April 2021 Dr. Silje Smith-Johnsen, Dr. Anne Elinka Flink, Dr. Nina Adjanin, and Dr. Heïdi Sevestre pulled equipment over 450km from Ny-Ålesund to Hornsund in Svalbard to collect snow samples and investigate the deposition of Black Carbon on Snow. This Black Carbon is made of ultrafine particles which are emitted when fossil fuels are burnt before travelling thousands of kilometers before being deposited through winds and snowfall. The problem of black carbon is so vast that it is said to be responsible for up to 30% of arctic warming.

By skiing the 450km rather than using helicopters, ice breakers of snow machines the expedition was entirely carbon neutral and was designed to show that science can be done differently. By doing this the team could showcase a further respect of the environment they were studying and take the time to observe and analyse the ecosystem and conditions they were going through. This was the first ever carbon neutral research expedition to take place in the polar regions and was designed to not only undertake serious research but also connect this with classrooms around the world and make science more fun, accessible and exciting for the next generation.

You can read more about Helly Hansen’s association with the Climate Sentinels here or have a look at the official Climate Sentinel website. The newest arrivals from Helly Hansen are now available online and instore at Nordic Outdoor.