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.
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.