We Are Not Eco-Friendly

SHRED THREAD // 2nd Nov 2021

2nd Nov 2021

We are not eco-friendly.   

Eco-friendly gets bandied-about a lot. We see and hear it far too often, usually as part of a slick marketing campaign to get us to buy more. Using buzzwords like “sustainable” and “green” to attract customers is big, and it’s getting bigger.  

It’s an easy trap to fall into: Tell people you’re saving the planet for long enough, and you’ll start to believe it yourself. 

That’s not for us.

It’s time to speak truthfully: To talk about sustainability at Planks in its entirety - the good, the bad and everything in between. We believe that taking responsibility and being transparent about our products and practices is crucial. Developing outerwear that allows us to explore some of the world’s coolest landscapes is what fires us up, but not at any cost. We’re putting our cards on the table – we have achieved a lot, but there’s a long journey ahead! 

As Planks has grown, so has our understanding of its environmental footprint and our determination to reduce it. It’s an uncomfortable truth, but consumerism is killing Planet Earth. We must make changes to secure its future. And, if we can save skiing in the process, then we’re down for that too!  

Over the last decade we have made a lot of progress. We’re proud to say that all Planks outerwear now includes recycled yarn. That’s 1.6 million waste plastic bottles recycled and counting! We’ve recently switched to organic cotton in our streetwear too. Putting more focus on our garments’ durability is another way we’re reducing our impact. And, with the help of some great partners, we’re learning to repair and upcycle old gear so that it doesn’t end-up in landfill. By introducing “evergreen” styles into our range we’re reducing churn and moving towards a slow fashion philosophy. We’re also getting rid of non-recyclable, single use plastics from our packaging and supply chain. 

It mustn’t stop there, because if we’re honest, it isn’t enough. 

The fashion industry is responsible for putting billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. In 2019, 70 million barrels of oil (greenpeace.org) were turned into Polyester fabric… 70 million! Developing greener products and practices is a must. Planks must play its part.  

With guidance from Protect Our Winters, we’ve pledged that Planks will be Net Zero (reducing carbon emissions to an absolute minimum and offsetting what remains through carbon absorption and extraction) by 2037. We are not eco-friendly, and we have a long way to go, but we will do better. With your support, we can create change.

why we’re not eco-friendly…

We define ‘eco-friendly’ as taking actions that benefit the environment.  

Are we helping the environment when we make outerwear? Honestly? No. 

Manufacturing clothing is a thirsty business: Extruding fibres, weaving & dying fabrics, powering factories, shipping heavy containers halfway around the world, delivering to the end customer and more. It’s a huge drain on the world’s resources and a big contributor to pollution.  

Worldwide, the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions (UNEP). More than all international flights and maritime shipping combined!  

Despite the enormous challenge ahead, we’re not in a hopeless situation… we’ll just have to work extra hard to reduce our impact on the planet. 

we started by making a pledge...

We are committed to doing business the right way. To hold ourselves accountable we have taken the POW (Protect Our Winters) pledge. The pledge is a framework that outlines actions that we can take to reduce our carbon dependency. It covers all aspects of our operations: CO2 intensive activities such as logistics and manufacturing, and more immediate steps, like buying electricity from renewable suppliers and divesting from the fossil fuel industry.  

Taking action to reduce our carbon footprint is something we can all do; POW has important work to do, weening individuals and businesses off fossil fuels. With fund raising initiatives like our No Skiing on Mars capsule collection, we are helping POW to inspire more people and businesses to change. 

With guidance from POW, we have outlined Planks’ environmental goals for the future and plotted our roadmap to get there. It will culminate in a 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and the goal of being NetZero by 2037. 

we’ve already made a start...

In 2016 we began incorporating REPREVE® recycled yarn in its outerwear. REPREVE® fabrics, which are Bluesign® approved, are woven with a high percentage of fibres from recycled plastic bottles. So far, Planks has turned more than 1.6 million plastic bottles, destined for landfill, into outerwear!    

This year, we switched to 100% GOTS certified organic cotton in our streetwear. Organic cotton is grown without using harmful pesticides which damage ecosystems and harm wildlife. Cotton is primarily grown in countries experiencing water stress, but the cultivation of organic cotton uses 90% (soilassociation.org) less water than non-organic. 

Helped by our awesome production partners we’re finding ways to be less wasteful too. The “Wasters Program” is an ongoing initiative to make very small runs of unique, patchwork pieces from deadstock (end of line) fabrics. 

We’ve made a start manufacturing less polluting products, but we’re always searching for new technologies and greener alternatives which deliver the performance and durability of modern outdoor fabrics but with less environmental impact.  

taking care of our gear is the key to reducing consumption...

Our product philosophy is “make rad gear that lasts”. We’ve always worked with the best quality materials our pricing would allow. Details, like using high quality YKK zips (the best in the industry) in heavy use areas and inner leg edge protection to stop damage from your skis, help our products live longer. In recent years we’ve doubled our efforts. 

We have upped our manufacturer’s warranty from one to two years and we work with two of the best outdoor clothing repair specialists in the EU (Green Wolf) and UK (LSR) to make sure that any repair work is of the highest quality. Our ambition is to provide affordable repair options, whether that’s DIY repair packs or a collect and repair service. Ultimately, looking after high-quality, durable products is the best way to reduce consumption.  

it won’t be easy, but we’ll get there...

Becoming Net Zero (reducing carbon emissions to an absolute minimum and offsetting what remains through carbon absorption and extraction) in less than two decades is an enormous undertaking. We've empowered our team to keep the business on track and deliver our sustainability goals on plan. Our ambitious plan is… 

The first step to reducing Planks’ dependency on carbon is quantifying it. We are currently calculating Planks’ carbon output so that we can begin offsetting it. Within the next six months we’ll understand our footprint, but since there’s no time to waste, we have already begun planting a tree for every product we sell. For every Planks product, large or small, that you buy, online, in store or from a Planks retailer, our partner, Eden Reforestation Projects, will plant a tree. Together, we will plant tens of thousands of trees every year. 

Reducing waste is a big part of our plan. If we can keep our existing gear in better condition it will last longer. We plan to add a paid-for service too, but if you’d rather fix your own gear, you’ll be able to do that too with our affordably priced repair packs. Our aim is to have the program fully operational by January 2023. Watch this space! 

By April 2023 Planks will be divested from fossil fuels and we will be powering our Manchester HQ with energy from renewable suppliers. 

A transparent and mindful supply chain is crucial to creating sustainable and ethical products. We choose our suppliers carefully, but we have set ourselves the target of auditing every supplier by 2025.   

Our journey has begun, but becoming genuinely sustainable will take time. We have a plan, and one day we will call Planks eco-friendly, but right now we cannot.  

We have a responsibility to future generations to do everything we can to lessen our impact. We will listen to, include and share our progress with you every step of the way. Thank you for supporting us and being part of this change.