Got an interesting and different thing through the other day. Most outdoor trade mail I get is “Look at our new thing”, this one was “Look at your old thing”.
It’s a project looking at the re-use of old outdoor gear and there’s an online survey where we can give our opinions. Right here: ExploreRed.

Normally I don’t bother with a lot of the trade stuff that comes in as it just makes my blog look like an outdoor website… but, this project touches on something pretty important and relevant. I’ve got old gear in that attic and that’s it’s a potential resource does weigh on my mind, but it all has memories attached to it, so I have difficulty getting rid of it. It’s a real issue, one that’s been talked about at innov_ex and I think giving feedback to get a proper picture of our attitudes is not a bad idea. Even if it’s “It’s mine and you can’t have it” or “It’s all torn and can’t be reused, and why didn’t you make out out of something easier to recycle in the first place?”
I know the folks involved so I’m happy to send both you and I to that link above. There’s stuff to win as well, a Rab Jacket and many socks.

The full press release thing is right below this sentence and unrelated old photie.


Explore Red

 Joint research project with Peoplework and University of Leeds

 The Explore Red programme was created by Don Gladstone in order to pursue the research and promotion of functional but redundant outdoor apparel, footwear and equipment. 

The commercial, social and environmental value of ‘pre owned’ outdoor products can deliver tangible sustainable and ethical results.

 Through the very process of buying new apparel, footwear and equipment the consumer creates a bundle of used outdoor gear that, in most cases, after its primary life cycle can be restored to enter a new cycle of life.


What is the aim?  

To research a range of outdoor sports and life style products during and after extended use and evaluate their worth in terms of comfort, performance and commercial value when entering a second life cycle.

What are the benefits?

 There has been little research conducted relating to the practical life cycle of outdoor sports products. Currently the focus is on developing, marketing and retailing new products with little regard to the commercial, social or environmental value of those that have been used but still retains their comfort, performance and in most cases, aesthetic properties. Such products have great value that is largely ignored by industry and consumer alike.

The Explore RED Initiative will examine;

  • The consumer’s expectation of their outdoor product/s when purchased
  • The wear and degeneration of soft and hard wear products over an eighteen month period
  • Comfort and performance retention in comparison to when new
  • The social and commercial value of the evaluated product
  • The possibilities and opportunities to promote sustainable practice within and beyond traditional outdoor communities

 Trade and consumer research

 Lancaster University have provided three MSc students from the Management School to conduct research into;

  • Potential charity partnerships
  • Consumer buying habits
  • Trade partnerships in relation to a national ‘re-use’ initiative

 There is no adventure in the closet – practicing social and environmental material sustainability

 It takes little imagination to realise the amount of used outdoor sports products in wardrobes, lofts and garages. The majority of these items still retain a great deal of the comfort and performance they originally provided their owners. Indeed, many of these items will provide the exact same comfort and performance as they did when first purchased.

 At best this category of product is barely worn and at worst it is discarded and can potentially be disposed of in landfill. In the last five years there have been numerous cases of companies being paid by councils to recycle unwanted clothing only for it to be found in landfill sites as far away as Indonesia.

 The Explore Red Initiative will seek to raise public awareness of the many advantages of reusing discarded outdoor products.

 Which products are products by the programme and what is its duration?

 The programme will research apparel, footwear, equipment, kayaks and mountain bikes. The first stage of the programme will run for approximately 24 months but it is hoped that some research will continue after this period.

 How will the products be assessed?

 The products will be given to a wide spectrum of people ranging from casual users to outdoor professionals. In most cases the product will be sent to The University of Leeds for evaluation each quarter. A record of use (visual and written) will be maintained by the individual testers.

 What tests will be conducted on the product?

 Performance and comfort testing for outdoor clothing and footwear will be undertaken by the University of Leeds. Tests will be carried out on new products and quarterly throughout the lifetime of the project. The results of the testing will be used to develop best practice guidelines on the reconditioning of used products.

 All clothing will be visually examined for wear and tear and a range of tests will assess the water repellency, water resistance, breathability, thermal insulation, air permeability and wicking as appropriate.

 Footwear will be visually examined for wear and tear and tests will be selected as appropriate from tread depth measurement, water resistance, impact absorption and sole friction.

 For hardware, visual examinations will assess the products for wear and tear and expert advice on servicing and reconditioning needs will be solicited.

 Concurrent with the testing regime, a study on consumer behaviour will be undertaken. With the aid of companies involved in the project, surveys will be distributed to users of selected and similar products, and typical user behaviour profiles will be developed. This will be used to determine average initial lifecycle, strategies for product return and evaluation of the market viability for reconditioned products.


6 thoughts on “ExploreRed”

  1. Survey done. Looking forward to my new RAB jacket!

    I have to say this sort of thing has always ruffled my feathers because so much of it really is common sense. I’ve never binned anything that still works even a wee bit, because I’ll either use it or give it away.

    An awful lot of ‘environmental marketing’ is brought to us by the same companies that told us to bin the old stuff in the first place – they’d say anything and use any buzzword to get your money, and it’s as insulting as it is transparent.

    And talking of money, that’s the root of the whole problem.
    When I was young, we closed doors and windows, turned lights off, took our own bags to the shops etc. Did we do it for the environment? Naw, we were just skint. No central heating, no double glazing, NO money. So we used our common sense and made everything last. In other words necessity made sure we could look after things so they didn’t break or wear out prematurely and have enough savvy to repair them if they did.

    The survey is interesting because it does make you think about this stuff (I’ve only just realised that I’ve never once thrown anything in the bin or kept kit that I don’t use) and it’s obviously a good thing, but I just hate the fact that we need to have this kind of project at all.

    And now I’m feeling guilty about drooling over shiny gear on this site…but I’ll still take the RAB jacket.

    Sorry folks, rant over.

  2. Common sense indeed. I’ll need to get my write-up of this years innov-ex conference posted, the big uncomfortable pause of those two days was when the Nike bloke was answering questions over a video link and visibly squirmed when asked “Whay not make less stuff?” rather than spend millions dealing with a waste problem they create themselves.

    Like you say, it’s al about money.

  3. They’ve got a good reputation. I wonder if their business is doing better as folk are not buying new gear (shop footfall down 30%) and are maybe fixing up old kit.

  4. Some of us do our own repairs (assuming it’s only a small repair ie, loose stitching) ;) Just patched up my Rab Bergen jacket, broken cord, and one of the adusters on the cuff coming off. almost as good as new now, or at least, not falling appart anymore!

  5. The sewing machine is good frined in out house too :o)

    Also just repaired a broken guitar neck, more of that later!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.