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1% For the Planet

1% For the Planet is an international organization founded in 2002. Its members commit to donating at least one percent of their sales to environmental protection. Members can choose which charity to donate to from a vetted list. Members may also propose new member candidates to the organization. Outnorth AB and Fjellsport AS have two joint brands that have joined 1% for the Planet – Urberg and Sydvang.

Bamboo

Bamboo is sometimes presented as an environmentally friendly alternative. The good thing about bamboo is that it is fast growing and does not require many pesticides. Sometimes you come across plastic mixtures with bamboo that are used in products that are so-called “food contact materials”. However, you must be a little careful here. There is legislation that lists the materials that are allowed, and bamboo has not made it onto that list yet. When it comes to textiles and bamboo, it is sometimes claimed that bamboo has anti-odor properties. The problem with this is that people are almost always talking about viscose when it comes to bamboo in textiles. In the process, the bamboo fiber has been turned into viscose, which can then be used to make textiles. While it is good that non-fossil materials are an option, unfortunately the process for producing viscose is very chemical intensive. We are currently producing some textiles for our own brands from viscose but will no longer be releasing any new models featuring it, and we are constantly looking for more environmentally friendly alternatives.

Carbon Law

Maybe you've heard of Moore's Law. It suggests that the performance of computers doubles about every two years. Established by a team of scientists led by Joakim Rockström, the Carbon Law is a similar equation that says we need to cut our greenhouse gas emissions in half every ten years. If we do that, we have a great chance of achieving the 2-degree goal that was set in the Paris Agreement.

Code of conduct

Do you know what a code of conduct is? Almost all modern companies have one. It sets out requirements for its own business operations as well as for partners and subcontractors. A code of conduct usually focuses on the social aspects of sustainability. These include, for example, working conditions, legal issues, corruption, forced labor, health issues and child labor. We have chosen to use a code of conduct developed by the BSCI. The BSCI is a European initiative based on several international conventions. One advantage of the BSCI is that we work together within this association to ensure that our common subcontractors follow the code of conduct. Companies that are members of the BSCI can also participate in the mutual audits.

E-commerce and the climate

Is e-commerce better or worse for the climate than traditional commerce? That question is not easy to answer. You might spontaneously say that e-commerce generates a lot of shipping, then there are a lot of returns, and now doorstep delivery has become even more popular. But you must think one step further. In traditional shopping, you go to a store to make purchases. With e-commerce, the ordered goods come to you. Often the product you buy weighs less than what you do. So, the key is how you get to the store and how the goods are transported to you. The product often travels a longer distance but is probably lighter than you and never travels alone. Do you?

What's also important to remember is that e-commerce can serve an entire country (or more) from a single warehouse, whereas it might take 50 stores to have a network of stores large enough to serve most of the population. What would be the climate footprint of 50 stores, or 20?

We cannot say for sure whether e-commerce is better or worse for the environment, but a reasonable assumption would be that a large e-commerce company trying to optimize its operations to reduce its carbon footprint is in a better position than a network of individual stores.

Electricity use

We have chosen the power supply that we consider to be the most sustainable. For Outnorth, we are now gradually switching to a contract with Tranås energi, where we buy their self-produced energy, which is labeled a “Good Environmental Choice” and certified by the environmental organization Älvräddarna. Fjellsport has chosen to cooperate with GNP energy. GNP energy guarantees that renewable electricity is produced to the same extent as Fjellsport's consumption. Currently, that is hydropower.

Outnorth has opted for solar energy and equipped the new warehouse with solar cells that supply the company with electricity. The surplus is sold on the energy market. Fjellsport moved into new premises in 2020 and had geothermal heating installed.

Shipping

Freight transport accounts for a large share of global greenhouse gas emissions. In our company we have on the one hand incoming goods from our suppliers and on the other hand outgoing goods to our customers. As for the incoming goods, our company orders the goods we buy for our own brands, and thus has full control over them. For external brands, our suppliers have operational control. For outgoing transports, we have operational control ourselves. We carefully measure the flows of goods for which we ourselves have operational control, and of course we also work hard to reduce the carbon footprint. For these transports, we fully compensate our emissions through a Plan Vivo-certified project in Bolivia. But we feel that this is not quite enough. We will continue to work to reduce these emissions. We will also look at the transports that we cannot control ourselves and find opportunities for improvement together with our subcontractors. These could include alternative fuels or better logistics solutions.

Greenhouse Gas Protocol

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol) is the most common and accepted standard for measuring greenhouse gas emissions. We use the GHG Protocol to track our climate emissions and to follow the PAS 2060 standard.

HVO

HVO or hydrogenated vegetable oil is a type of biodiesel that is very similar to ordinary fossil diesel. HVO is used in both cars and trucks as a substitute for fossil diesel. The advantage of HVO is that it is based on renewable raw materials. In other words, no raw materials that are dug out of the ground or extracted from it are needed. Much of the problem with global warming comes from pumping up and digging out fossil resources. It becomes too much for the earth's atmosphere to cope with. At Outnorth, we now use HVO to transport containers of our own brands from the port in Gothenburg to the warehouse a few kilometers away. We are working to achieve the same for all incoming goods. But of course, we are also looking into the use of electric vehicles.

Dyeing of textiles

The process of dyeing textiles can be very chemical intensive. In addition, in many of the places where textiles are currently produced, wastewater systems and water treatment are not very well developed. This poses a great risk of pollution of waters, lakes, and seas in the process of dyeing textiles.

There are methods that reduce both water consumption and the use of chemicals in dyeing. With polyester, for example, you can dye the granules from which the threads are made that are then used to weave or knit the fabrics. Conventionally, the finished fabric is dyed, which consumes a lot of water. However, this is avoided by coloring the granules. This technique is called dope dye, solution dye or spin dye. One issue with this method is that it requires quite large minimum volumes, and it is also relatively expensive. In the future, we will strive to use this technology where possible. Some of the brands we sell already do this to some extent, like Fjällräven and Bergans. We have also started the production of tents, sleeping bags and pack sacks that are completely undyed. These products were launched in the spring of 2021; we chose the name ZeroColor for the collection. Our goal is to continue to develop this collection.

Climate neutral

One way to do something about the greenhouse gas emissions that a company causes is to strive for climate neutrality. Almost all operations involve greenhouse gas emissions, and it is very difficult to reach zero emissions. Climate neutrality therefore means in practice that companies compensate for the emissions they cannot avoid.

To claim climate neutrality, companies should comply with the requirements of PAS 2060 or ISO 14021 standards. First, a carbon footprint is prepared according to the GHG Protocol. Then targets are set, and emissions are reduced. This is then verified by an independent body, and finally the remaining climate impact is compensated. Outnorth has set a goal to become climate neutral by 2028. We are aware that this does not mean that we have already done enough in terms of climate protection. The most important thing we can do is reduce our emissions, we all need to do that.

Microplastics and microfiber

Microplastics usually refer to small plastic fragments that are less than 5 mm long. Unfortunately, there is a lot of microplastic in our nature and in our oceans today. Microplastics can result from the release of fragments, or they can form when plastic products or parts of plastic products are degraded in nature or in the oceans. Textiles release microplastics, for example during washing. Because plastic degrades very slowly, large amounts of microplastics accumulate in the oceans over time. This is a problem for several reasons. Recently, microfibers have increasingly come into focus. Even organic materials such as cotton and wool release small fragments during washing.

Organic materials degrade much faster than plastics, but both microplastics and microfibers can carry hazardous chemicals into the environment from the dyeing process and other manufacturing processes. Chemical treatments can also cause organic materials to degrade more slowly. Currently, research is underway to measure the amount of microplastics and microfibers released from textiles, and what can be done to reduce this.

Ecolabelling of products

The environmental labeling system is not as developed in our industry as it is, for example, in the food trade. We have chosen to compile so-called “preferred attributes”, which consist of a mix of certifications, production methods and chemical aspects. We focused on attributes that are binary, i.e., either a product has the attribute, or it doesn’t. These attributes are included in our contracts with suppliers, and we are in the process of building a filtering system based on these attributes. Filtering is possible either by brand or by individual product. For example, if a brand is part of 1% for the Planet, this can be filtered accordingly at the brand level. However, when a product is manufactured using a dope dye technique that reduces the amount of chemicals and water used in the manufacturing of the product, the filtering takes place at the product level.

Mulesing

Merino sheep wool is of high quality and very popular. But merino sheep have a lot of skin folds where dirt accumulates, and this attracts flies. The flies lay their eggs in the folds, which is painful for the animals. A method often used in the past to prevent this is the so-called mulesing. It simply refers to the removal of the skin from the rear of the sheep without anesthesia. After a lot of controversy and protests a few years ago, this method is used less and less. We require that all the wool used in our own production and in the production of the brands we buy come from a production that does not use mulesing.

PFAS

PFAS (Perfluorinated Alkylated Substances) is a collective name for a group of chemical compounds consisting of a carbon chain in which hydrogen atoms have been partially or completely replaced by fluorine atoms. The group consists of at least 4730 compounds. These compounds are usually very long-lasting and degrade very slowly or not at all. Several PFAS compounds have been shown to be harmful to animals and humans. For example, they are toxic to reproduction and are suspected of being carcinogenic. PFAS are found in a variety of products around us, including frying pans, food packaging, footwear, clothing, firefighting foam, ski wax, furniture, electronics, and makeup. The use of PFAS has been regulated, and some of the most hazardous PFAS compounds are now banned.

We have been working on the question about PFAS for many years. PFAS are used in clothing, footwear, and equipment to provide a water- and dirt-repellent surface. For our own production, we do not use any PFAS-based coating. We have also stopped selling ski wax with PFAS and we are working to ensure that none of our external brands use PFAS in their production. Development has progressed rapidly in recent years, and there are now quite good alternatives to PFAS for coatings on outdoor clothing when it comes to water-repellent properties.

Travel

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us that we can live with less travel than we were used to in the past. We have learned a lot about virtual meetings and working from home and will continue to use these options to reduce our environmental footprint. When it comes to travel, air travel is particularly harmful to the environment. And short flights are the worst. For one, they are more environmentally damaging in relation to the distance than long air travel. They are also easier to avoid. We have decided that in our company, no business trips may be made by air if it is possible to cover the same distance by train in 5 hours or less.

Returns and complaints

Returns are problematic for e-commerce. On the one hand, it generates additional transport goods, on the other hand, the handling costs a lot of money and resources. But we don't believe the solution is to make it harder for our customers to return items. It's even worse for the environment if you're not satisfied with your purchase and don't use the product you bought and end up throwing it away. Then we really used resources unnecessarily in production. So, the way forward must be to improve the information about the products. The size and color specifications are very important, as well. We know we have a lot of work left to do here, and it will be a priority.

Of course, there will always be complaints. But we pursue an active follow-up and optimize or discontinue products that do not meet the requirements. We record complaint rates and work constantly to reduce them. The same applies here as for returns. It should not be inconvenient for our customers to make complaints about goods. That would be the wrong way to go. For example, we let our customers keep some claimed items instead of charging them another shipping fee to get them back to our warehouse. Regarding the products we take back, we try to be as efficient as possible. If the product can be repaired this will be the first alternative. We donate the exchanged products to charity. We also have collaborations through which we give people the opportunity to practice repairing products. We do everything we can to avoid throwing away products that can be put to further use.

Subcontractors

For our own production of clothing, we currently list all factories on our website. Regarding production of so-called hardware, i.e., everything that is not clothing, we have so far chosen not to list our subcontractors. The reasons are competition related.

Rental and Secondhand

This is a popular sector. At the moment we are looking into a collaboration which would allow us to build up the rental and secondhand areas in a good way. We believe that renting makes the most sense for us, as this is where we can make the most difference. The secondhand market is already very well established, and we already donate goods that are no longer in demand to charity to give them a second life.

Overconsumption

The issue of overconsumption is one of the trickiest for us. We have grown and expect to continue to expand quite rapidly. That means more sales. We also operate in a very transparent and competitive online market. If we limit our product range available to customers, our sales will decrease, and most likely those sales will be taken over by one of our competitors instead.

The issue of overconsumption is one of the trickiest for us. We have grown and expect to continue to expand quite rapidly. That means more sales. We also operate in a very transparent and competitive online market. If we limit our product range available to customers, our sales will decrease, and most likely those sales will be taken over by one of our competitors instead.

Perhaps the issue of overconsumption really does begin with each of us as consumers. Today, the supply is practically endless, and in the end, we are probably forced to decide for ourselves how much we need to consume. We can understand the argument that retailers can also be part of the problem of overconsumption and that, for example, Christmas sales, Black Fridays and advertising campaigns are certainly worthy of criticism. However, we do not believe that high prices are the solution, and we will continue to offer our customers the opportunity to buy good products at competitive prices.

What we as a company must take responsibility for, however, is that the products we sell are manufactured responsibly, do not contain harmful substances and are good quality. We take that responsibility very seriously.

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