The Weekly - June 9, 2020 - 11


Amy Horton, OIA
senior director of
sustainable business innovation

ing. The team hit the brakes on
recruiting. After all, people were
losing their livelihoods.
But while some companies
were occupied with simply staying in business, others suddenly
had some extra time on their
hands and were asking for the
CAC guidebook and next steps on
carbon footprinting, which was
the green light the team needed.
"We've kicked off the work; we've
released the first version of the
guidebook; we held an orientation and our first training; and
we've had really good feedback,"
Horton says.
As of the end of May, 72 companies had joined the climate
corps. Twenty-four of those joined
in March and April. OIA decided
to relax some of the deadlines for
the CAC. Now, if companies join
by July 1, they can still become
founding members.
Because CAC members work
collectively to help lower their
carbon footprints, Horton believes
sustainability can still be accessible, even in a tough economy. "The
fact of the matter is, it's never
been cheaper or easier to do this,"
she says. "If you didn't have the
Climate Action Corps, you might
go and struggle on your own,
take a year, or pay a consultant
$50,000. But for a fraction of that
price, you can jump in right now."
Some of the founding members have used the beta version
of Climate Neutral's footprinting
tool to get started. Others, like
Columbia Sportswear, were already footprinting their complex
supply chains but are benefiting
from the collective action the
CAC can create, according to
Guru Larson, global sustainability lead at Columbia.
"We're just completing our
second year of full measurement," Larson says of Columbia's
greenhouse gas footprinting. "It's
not easy. But one of the reasons
we joined the CAC is collective ac-

-Amy Horton, Outdoor Industry Association

tion to move the needle on change
going forward." Larson is hoping
for two possible types of collaboration: the collective purchase of
renewable energy and targeted
environmental improvements
along the supply chain, such as a
factory multiple companies use.
But you have to believe it's
important. "We didn't decide to
take this on as a strategic priority for the industry because it
was a boom time," Horton says.
"We got into it because we knew
it was a decadeslong effort-the
next 10 years of which are extremely critical-for our industry
and the world."

brought positive news from
Climate Neutral. The nonprofit
announced it had certified a
cohort of 105 companies. "I was
overjoyed. I thought we'd be at
30," says Climate Neutral CEO
Austin Whitman.
"I just thought voluntary carbon
commitments-forget the time

they take; even the cost, while
modest, is not insignificant-
would be first on the chopping
block," Whitman says. "But
instead, we heard that people are
so committed to climate as part of
their core identity that when this
is over, they wanted to show they
had stuck with it."
Meanwhile, Climate Neutral
is still having conversations with
brands that had expressed interest
but now want to delay their commitment. "If you want to certify
for this year but you can't, let's just
have you get into our footprinting
tool. You've got a year's lead time
now, and you have a year to think
about becoming committed."
Whitman is anticipating
increased interest in Climate Neutral's footprinting tool. "It's a very
cheap, easy-to-implement option," he says. "We think in a time
when budgets are constrained
and layoffs are happening, the
people who are left behind aren't
going to throw their hands up.
They're going to look at what

they can do with what's left. It'll
allow us to keep conversations
going; it'll allow us to continue to
pursue the mission."
Climate Neutral is still facing
some challenges. Grant funding
is harder to come by now, and the
organization initiated a volunteer
corps. "It's not a grant, but we've
been able to backfill with just an
unbelievable show of support from
people who care about climate,"
Whitman says
And the heat has been on for
Columbia. CEO Tim Boyle took
a pay cut to $10,000 a year in
March, and executives followed
suit with 15% pay cuts to help employees. The company reported a
profit of just $213,000 for the first
quarter of the year; last year, in
the same quarter, they had $74.1
million in profits.
But the company, which has
been with the CAC from the start,
is sticking with its sustainability
goals. "The pandemic has made
it more clear than ever why these
values we've had are important-
like protecting natural spaces,
getting people active," Larson
says. "I think it's reinforced the
need to do this."

are paying attention to the climate
crisis. A report from the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Higg Co,
and Boston Consulting Group
found: "Surveys with key stakeholders, study of prior global crises,
and an analysis of economic trends
and consumer sentiment make it
clear that fashion risks irrevocable
self-inflicted wounds if it abandons
sustainability and value chain partnerships in the face of COVID-19."
"I think they're paying attention to how companies are acting
during this time," says Larson, of
consumers. "Who's doing the right
thing? Who's laying people off?
Who is taking responsible measures? When the heat's turned on,
who sticks to their values?"


The Weekly - June 9, 2020

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