At the end of this week, it would be easy to overlook Earth Day on April 22, but it is an opportunity for Outdoor brands to cash in on an increasingly popular event. Whereas Earth Hour on the last Saturday of last month did not get as well supported (asking people to switch off their power in an increasingly digital world is working towards an oxymoron), there is a whole shift from the outdoor brands.

Leading this is the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA), which has harnessed its membership to have events (and also use it as a fundraiser). The whole industry uses images of the beauty of the natural environment to help sell our products, and there has been a noticeable change in our own playground: we all know about the rising snowline, the increase in extreme weather, and hailstorms appearing every year, and so on. The climate crisis is real – COP26 at the end of last year highlighted this (and was focused on the finance to make change possible); upcoming, we have COP15 – which is focused on the biodiversity crisis (which works in tandem with the climate) happening in China towards the end of this month and stretching until May 8.

At the time of recent EU Green Deal legislation (which is centered on the three areas of Eco Design, Due Diligence, and Green Claims), particularly with textiles in mind, it is known that some of the fast fashion brands will now have to add a disposal charge to the retail price of their garments. The line of thought is that apparel is still one of the most polluting industries on the planet. On the flip side, there is some excellent practice within the Outdoor field – so this is an ideal opportunity to capitalize on the public attention to our wider industry.

It is not often that there is a chance to show how excellent our trade is, and some brands are already embracing it. If you start your preparations now, you will be able to capitalize on Earth Day 2023. Usually, if brands start talking about eco-issues, the accusations come in that they are greenwashing as they have created an event out of which their better practice is highlighted. Earth Day is nothing we have created – the entire world now has it as a focus – so why not make the best opportunity of it?

The first step (in my opinion) is to demonstrate that you are prepared to act as well as talk. EOCA is an ideal way to demonstrate this: Join it! The industry’s body to demonstrate our conscience gathers ALL the membership fees (the costs of running it are picked up directly by the EOG so that all fees go to causes); the collective even has a higher level of Sustaining members (those eight that guarantee to donate a minimum of €10,000 each year). Membership is NOT restricted to those members of the European Outdoor Group – anyone can join; it is perhaps an embarrassment that less than 15 percent of the outdoor brands that exhibit at ISPO have paid membership fees (which are scaled towards how much turnover the company has), especially when almost every brand wants to boast about their better actions for the planet. Membership of EOCA ranges from the biggest brands like VF Corp. to individual members like Ralf-Stefan, the journalist; even this publication is a member!

The trade body gathers all the funding together so that a serious amount can be directed at necessary projects. These causes have been assessed by the team in Kendal and then voted on by the general outdoor public (those people who buy our product) through collaborations with key Outdoor consumer media (which gathers votes from several hundred thousand individuals spread across Europe).

Special thanks need to be acknowledged from those sustaining members: Keen, ISPO, Pertex, Nikwax, The North Face, EOG, Outdoor by ISPO (Messe München pays twice!), and now Stanley.

However, those brands that have not joined in should ask themselves if they are happy to make a profit from their customers enjoying the environment around us without paying towards its preservation…