Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 36

The Pulse

M A R K E T I N G

The Sustainability
Paradox
The industry keeps talking about saving the
planet, but how do we make green efforts
more than just marketing? By Mike Geraci

IN 1999, YVON CHOUINARD WAS THE KEYNOTE SPEAKER ON THE OPENING

night of the second annual Barry Corbet Film Festival in Jackson, Wyoming, where I live. In classic Yvon bomb-throwing style, he posited to the
400 or so dirtbags and millionaires in the audience that if our community
really believed in conservation and the goal of a sustainable destination, we
would shut down our airport.
Half the room applauded; the other half was aghast. You can probably
guess the split.
Chouinard pointed out that JAC is the only airport in the country that is
located inside a national park, and that situation causes associated environmental impacts-noise pollution, air pollution, light pollution, traffic.
But he was also referencing impacts tied to the convenience factor.
By closing the airport, we would eliminate the ability for the hundreds of
thousands of residents and visitors alike to easily travel to and from what
we consider a relatively pristine ecosystem. Imagine the havoc that would
occur on the Galapagos Islands if that pristine place had an international
airport.
Chouinard's point was that even with all the do-goodery and altruistic
conservation efforts, we concerned citizens engage in big, macro-actions
that have a far greater impact than multiple personal and smaller ones.
Which brings me to Summer Market (by way of a flight out of JAC).
WHEN I CRUISE THE SHOW, I HAVE MY ANTENNAE UP FOR THE SIGNALS

that brands are sending to the market, as those are the same messages the
consumer will be receiving in the near future. The good news, and the bad,
is that almost every exhibitor is telling and selling a variation of a sustainability story. Less water, more wind and solar, reuse, recycle, repurpose,
B-Corp, renewable, and now regenerative.
As Syndrome, the villian in The Incredibles says, "When everyone is
super, then no one will be." While he had more evil intentions, the paradox
in the outdoor industry is similar. As a consumer, if my choice is to buy
the brand that is most sustainable, then that part of the purchase decision
has become commodified. A "sustainable" story is simply table stakes (as it
should be). It's part of the story retailers are telling and selling, as well.
This is not to disparage all the real progress we as an industry have
realized, both from a manufacturing perspective as well as a political
perspective. The outdoor industry walks the talk, perhaps more than any
other industry. That's the opportunity. That's our brand. That integrity and
reputation is the lynchpin that can affect greater political and social change.

36

/ SUMMER MARKET 2019

The problem is that we haven't
solved the problem.
As Derrick Jensen points out in
his essay "Forget Shorter Showers," which appeared in Orion
Magazine, every action involved in
the industrial economy (of which
the outdoor industry is a part) is
destructive, and only through collective action can we impact larger
and more degrading societal forces.
Which is why I find the excitement over the reduction of single-use plastic so disappointing.
I joked that not only was I eliminating single-use plastic but that I
was also fasting for the entire time
I was in Denver, and I was going to
walk home to Wyoming, barefoot.
My point is that personal change
does not equal social change, and
we now find ourselves in a time
when personal change, and even
sustainability initiatives, are no
longer enough.
That is the tension I was feeling
at the Show. In an industry that
is an oversupplied market in the
international industrial economy,
and at a trade show with thousands
of highly trained salespeople and
marketers and millions of dollars
pushing us to buy! buy! buy! we
are marketing "sustainability."
Whatever happened to "Don't
buy this coat?" [Patagonia's 2011
Black Friday ad campaign.]
We have led and made amazing

progress on sustainable initiatives, but maintaining the status
quo when it comes to the environment and our industry's impact
on it is no longer enough. We can
do more.
The carbon footprint we exact
on the environment as we travel to
and from Denver can be better leveraged to drive macro-level societal
change, beyond roundtables and
personal-use choice initiatives. In
fact, the Carbon Neutral initiative
that debuted at the Show plans to
do just that. But more brands need
to make such meaningful efforts.
The outdoor industry is comfortable out front. We need to step
up our game again.
Mike Geraci is a columnist for
Outdoor Retailer magazine and
principal of Geraci & Co., a brand
strategy and communications
group in Jackson, Wyoming.

"In an industry that is an oversupplied market in the international industrial economy,
and at a trade show with thousands of highly
trained salespeople and marketers and
millions of dollars pushing us to buy! buy!
buy! we are marketing 'sustainability.'"
Photograph by

Carlo Nasisse



Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019

Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019
Contents
Sound Bites
Headlines
Portraits
Big Picture
Marketing
Research
Womxn Built This
Gear Awards
Sustainability
In the Aisles
Best Booth Awards
The Life
The Scene
Bark Page
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - Cover2
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 1
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - Contents
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 3
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 4
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 5
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - Sound Bites
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 7
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - Headlines
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 9
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 10
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 11
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 12
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 13
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 14
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 15
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - Portraits
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 17
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 18
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 19
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 20
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 21
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 22
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 23
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 24
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 25
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 26
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 27
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 28
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 29
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 30
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 31
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 32
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 33
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - Big Picture
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 35
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - Marketing
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 37
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - Research
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 39
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 40
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 41
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - Womxn Built This
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 43
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - Gear Awards
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 45
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 46
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 47
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - Sustainability
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 49
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 50
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - In the Aisles
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 52
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 53
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - Best Booth Awards
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 55
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - The Life
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 57
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - The Scene
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 59
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 60
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - 61
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - Bark Page
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - Cover3
Outdoor Retailer PostShow - Summer 2019 - Cover4
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https://www.nxtbookmedia.com