REI Sustainability Strategy and Innovation in the Outdoor Gear and Apparel Industry
What does "sustainability" mean at REI?
When we think of sustainability, we tend to gravitate towards the environment and our preservation of it. Even though that is/was one of REI’s main priorities, sustainability at REI has a couple of meanings. First and foremost it can be summed up by REI’s definition of Stewardship: •
Encourage the active conservation of nature.
Inspire the responsible use and enjoyment of the outdoors. •
Enhance the natural world and our communities through responsible business practices. •
Foster opportunities to increase participation in human-powered outdoor recreation, with a focus on youth. •
Maintain REI as an employer of choice, where employees are highly engaged in the vision of the company and are representative of our communities. In addition to these values or stewardship, REI also sought to be financially, socially and ecologically profitable…all at the same time. With a commitment to becoming “climate neutral” by 2020, REI had to focus their efforts on reducing wastes and pollution from their operations and become operationally more efficient. Also, they wanted to begin utilizing primarily renewable energy sources. Therefore, in a sentence, REI’s mission was to ensure that people and places continued to exist in a healthy state, now and in future generations.
How does REI use its sustainability strategy to drive innovation? To win competitive advantage in its markets? With REI’s core competencies in mind, this desire to be a sustainable company led to various areas of growth and innovation. By launching their “ecoSensitive” label for their own branded apparel, they began to shed light on products that were made from significantly recycled, renewable or organic materials. Given that the reputation of these types of products were typically associated with higher costs, REI was then tasked with the job of changing this...
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