At the beginning of the year, we launched our line of PACT products on REI.com and in all 167 stores across the country. Being available to outdoor enthusiasts with the largest outdoor retailer in the U.S. is a major step for us. Overnight, our products are available to the thousands of people who visit their stores and website every month. But, it goes a bit deeper than that…
REI Is Driving Major Progress in Sustainability
Many people may get the sense that REI values sustainability when they walk in the store, but do not realize just how thorough the retailer is pushing itself and anyone who sells through their channels to step up their game. Several years ago, REI launched their Product Impact Standards, a set of detailed guidelines and processes to drive positive change for the planet.
For REI it’s not enough to have a product that sells. You have to be measuring, reporting and actively improving upon your supply chain, materials, certifications, and reducing your overall carbon footprint.
They Care About the Details
During our ramp up with REI, we talked about our technology extensively. They asked about the legality of burying fungi in public lands; Leave No Trace’s stance on our products, our engagement with representatives from land management agencies, like the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service and, the specifics around our existing research.
REI is also very interested in how PACT products differ from the guidelines they currently promote around backcountry poop practice. For example, our PACT Wipes are safe to bury with PACT Tabs because they do not contain wet-strength and anti-microbial additives. Whereas, conventional practice strongly discourages the burial of conventional wet wipes due to the additives they contain– something we agree with. REI was concerned with finding the balance between introducing a new product without confusing customers and losing hard fought progress on pack-out practices.
The short of it is, they care about the details of our products. And they’re drawn to PACT products first and foremost because they are a more sustainable solution to the growing problem of human waste in the backcountry that also happens to solve some key consumer challenges in the process.
We’re Both Thinking Bigger
What if Leaving No Trace isn’t the highest standard we can set? Increasingly, we’re finding that the goal isn’t to create more pristine, seemingly untouched landscapes, but to create more resilient ones. Ones that are better suited to handle the impacts of humans and climate change. This requires quite a bit of human impact and intervention. Rocky Mountain National Park and their wildfire mitigation is a great example as well as the Chilean Forestry Department’s mycoforestry efforts to regrow forests faster.
This is part of the idea that PACT is founded on. Every step we take is altering the genetic makeup of the forest, so how can we consciously intervene in ways that have a net positive effect, instead of trying to convince ourselves that we were never even there?
Like us, REI sees the forest through the trees. They’re taking a long-term approach with the introduction of our products that isn’t just about one selling season. They’re also invested in our ongoing research efforts and how those efforts shape the future of backcountry practice and ethics.
We’re Treating Them as a Partner
All of this is the difference between being a retailer of our products and a true partner. Partners help one another to grow through a relationship that is more than transactional. We’re experiencing that in many ways, and plan to reciprocate. This spring we’ll be planning a series of road trips, perhaps in our ‘83 VW Vanagon, to REI stores across the West to get to know the employees, talk about our products while hopefully learning more about our customers.
Exciting things ahead. As always, we’re grateful to be on this journey with you.