“God is dead.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

The attentive reader may have realized that The Compass has reported little or nothing since the last OutDoor show on the activities of the so-called Christian Initiative Romero, which heavily promotes CCC, the Clean Clothes Campaign.

We did not like to write about that because we felt that there was one thing that was not good: the accusation of an entire industry for failures in corporate social responsibility that might have been caused by individual companies, but certainly not by an industry as a whole that is busy improving working conditions in its own or affiliated production facilities at home, in the Far East or elsewhere. We did not like to report on all that because we could not fall in love with the idea of sending an entire industry to execution. We were and still are convinced that this would be unfair and that we are aware of the fact that the report was badly written in many details.

Romero placed its (or the CCC-brokered) report shortly before OutDoor and was a pain in the neck to quite a few executives at OutDoor.

The echo in the big public media was heavy though. We have ignored that type of propaganda so far, but we have to realize that CIR has gone one step further: The Romero pack is inviting customers to place a hang tag on relevant products in the stores to inform other consumers about the CSR performance of the respective brands.

Our question here is whether consumers can be ready for such an action when it is clear that the retailers are not seriously informed on the credibility of this or that action in the name of sustainability provided by the vendors. How should that work? We assume pure propaganda behind all that action.

Certainly, the outdoor industry relies heavily on chemical fabrics and is per se not necessarily eco-friendly. On top of that, the whole business is based on manufacturing in the Third World or other countries that have not yet applied to standards that are business as usual in Europe and North America (even though there needs to be some more improvement here and there, too.)

What is really annoying, however, is that first, the outdoor industry is the focus of harsh criticism, and not necessarily other businesses. That’s irony because the outdoor community is working hard to both improve and to get rid of the green-washing image. Second, we wonder why all that propaganda comes basically from an organization that calls itself “Christian.” Such a club can criticize this and that, and often it is right to do so, but it surprises that a “Christian initiative” gets especially sensitive on the activities of the outdoor industry and not on others in the sporting goods sector and beyond.

We would like to remind people that the Christian (and Jewish) tradition is very much based on outdoor activities. The same is supposed to be true for the Muslim and Buddhist cultures – even though we know by far less about those Asian traditions. Anyhow, we would like to remind activists, whose motivations remain unclear, that the Bible talks a lot about ambitious hikes from Egypt to Canaan, 40-day-long stays in the desert and good climbs at Mount Sinai.

All this requires good equipment if one is not a prophet with supra-natural skills and gifts. The same goes for more modern but very Christian events such as the trail to Santiago de Compostela. Therefore, we wonder why a “Christian initiative” targets first an industry that provides good services to one of the churches’ most important activities – making the people hike!

The editor