REI #OPTOUTSIDE in 2019. For the fourth year in a row, on Thanksgiving day and Black Friday, REI Co-op will close all stores, process no online payments and pay more than 13,000 employees to “Opt Outside” with friends and family.
But this year, the outdoor recreation company is doing something different: Under the leadership of new CEO Eric Artz, REI is asking its 13,000 workers across the country as well as its 18 million members to join a nationwide cleanup effort in November. REI #OPTOUTIDE and cleanup locations will be posted on the retailer’s website.
In an open letter this week, Artz wrote, “My job is to steward the co-op and the outdoors on your behalf — and on behalf of the generations who follow us. Today, that future is at risk. We are in the throes of an environmental crisis that threatens not only the next 81 years of the co-op, but the incredible outdoor places that we love.”
By 2020, the Seattle-based firm had hoped to achieve zero-waste operations. It announced in the spring the expansion of its rental and used gear businesses. It invited 5,000 members to pilot a used-gear buy-back program, offering gift cards in exchange for gently used outdoor items for resale. It has also increased its recycling rate to 76% across its headquarters, distribution centers and stores.
However, challenges like “changing recycling markets and variable infrastructure from city to city” mean REI will not meet its 2020 goal in every store.
As such, Artz has made a plea for its staff and members to sign up for an employee-sourced, 52-week action plan to take steps throughout the year that would help reduce their environmental footprint. At the same time, REI is aligning its core business model toward more mindful consumption as well as eliminating unnecessary packaging in the outdoor industry.
“As a single company, our impact is limited, but as a community, we can drive change that powers meaningful action beyond our walls,” Artz wrote. “As a co-op, we know that many people taking many small steps together can add up to big changes. Collective intention will drive collective impact.”
REI #OPTOUTSIDE Is Also Good For Your Health
“The best researchers in the world are proving the case that getting outside is critical to our mental and our physical well-being,” Stritzke said. “It’s time to rethink time outdoors as a must-have, not a nice-to-have.”
The range of benefits to health and well-being from time in nature will be the topic of conversation at a second-annual, day-long symposium on October 24 at the University of Washington. It will also be the topic of remarks by noted author Richard Louv, who will be delivering the second Doug Walker Memorial lecture at Benaroya Hall, Seattle, that evening. Both events are hosted by UW’s EarthLab and co-sponsored by REI.
Visit REI.com to learn more.